Yes, that’s right glossophobia.
Many people have never heard of the term – quite surprising given that glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and the second most common phobia in the UK. The most common fear, apparently, is arachnophobia – the fear of spiders.
For those of us with arachnophobia, the anxiety may be debilitating, but as long as there is someone on hand to get rid of the offending creature, all is not lost.
With glossophobia, however, your career could be at stake. No matter what field we work in, sooner or later, we are going to have to speak in public, and how well we do can make or break us.
A great presentation can influence others, get us a promotion and even change lives. A bad one, on the other hand, can ruin our credibility in the eyes of our peers. Even your technical expertise will not stop people falling asleep in the face of a monotonous presentation, or visibly cringing when your anxiety threatens to overwhelm the room.
So why is glossophobia so widespread?
For many of us, our anxiety is a reaction to a childhood memory. Maybe in school we were asked to read something out loud in front of the class, and our awkward mutterings were received by classmates with scorn, laughter and mockery. As children learning to navigate the world we have an immense need to fit in, and this standing out for all the wrong reasons is an experience we never forget.
Phobias are an irrational fear of something, and are often rooted in one experience which has so much emotion attached to it that we unconsciously decide to let it govern all future experiences which fall into the same category i.e. public speaking.
The way we get rid of it is by simply disconnecting the emotion from that root cause event, and replacing our anxiety strategy with a new and more useful one.
I have been working in the field of public speaking for as long as I can remember. As a child I had a stutter, and as a teenager and young adult, I was both introverted and glossophobic. My route to overcoming these challenges has been a long one, but I quickly realised that speaking in public was a skill I needed to master, and took every opportunity to practise and learn what I could. I also instinctively felt that if I could turn my anxiety into excitement, I could channel it and turn it into a positive force for success.
Fast forward more than twenty years and I am not only speaking calmly and confidently, but also coaching others how to do the same, which is even more rewarding than speaking itself. And in addition to all the practice over the years, I have also studied the best tools and techniques available today to allow me to fast track both myself and others to public speaking success.
There are some really simple and powerful tools out there that allow all of us to be confident public speakers – without the anxiety, and with nothing to gloss over.