What Are the Causes of Fear of Public Speaking

There are several causes of a fear of public speaking. Speaking in front of a group of people can cause you to develop a case of the jitters. Anxiety, in some form, occurs when you present an idea to a group of people. But you don't need to develop a fear of public speaking and be known as a glossophobe. Instead, confront your fears and squelch the inner voice that tells you to be afraid. Once those fears disappear, giving a presentation will be easy. In fact, the anxiety you experience helps you maintain focus.

Deer in the Headlight Syndrome
Have you come upon a deer in the middle of the road while you are driving? The deer's eyes flash that "uh-oh" sign before the animal either flees into a nearby field or freezes in the road. Public speaking can elicit the same type of fight or flight response. This biological response results from an overwhelming feeling of stress. It's perfectly normal to feel a jolt of stress before giving a presentation, but those who suffer from a severe fear of public speaking deal with increased symptoms.

Warning signs range from nervousness to anxiety, lightheadedness to tightness in the abdomen, fear of eye contact to avoidance of an event. In its simplest form, the signs of stage fright might appear to be a case of the butterflies. In extreme situations, performance anxiety evokes both tangible and intangible symptoms.

Basically, symptoms can be categorized into verbal, physical and non-verbal. Verbal indicators of stage fright span from a quivering voice to the repetition of filler phrases, such as "umm." Physical symptoms occur when the autonomic nervous system responds to a situation with the fight or flight response. You may experience an increased heart rate, acute hearing, increased perspiration, stiffening of the neck and upper back muscles, or dry mouth. Non-verbal anxiety accelerates the fight or flight response by exacerbating symptoms. These non-verbal cues prevent an effective performance.

Causes of Glossophobia
Communication experts are not sure of an exact cause of the fear of public speaking. It is possible that a traumatic event from your past may incite a fear of speaking in front of a group of people. If you were teased by classmates when you were young or were singled out in a social situation, you may transfer those memories to a public speaking experience.

For some individuals, the fear of public speaking is the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of valuing the message you have to share, you equate your message with failure and unimportance.

It is possible that you go through high anxiety when speaking to a group. Don't focus on the symptoms you are suffering. Instead, you should tune in to the points you are making. Low-anxiety speakers still face minimal anxiety but compensate by concentrating on the message.

Public speaking should not produce fear of failure, fear of rejection or fear of fear itself. Public speaking anxiety can be lessened if you focus on and believe in your message.

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