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Public speaking or oration is an art the main intention of which is to entertain, persuade, or inform a target audience. However, the fear of public speaking is an issue that threatens the effectiveness of this form of art. This discussion looks at the causes of fears surrounding public speaking and techniques of overcoming these fears.
Why is the Fear of Public Speaking Common to People of All Ages?
The fear of public speaking comes out as the number one fear reported by people of all ages. According to Kumar, Kalakbandi, Prashar, and Parashar (2017), public speaking is a powerful stressor that can elicit strong individual and physiological reactions. The stressful effects that occur when addressing large audiences are associated with the fear of public speaking. Therefore, some people have a phobia about oration, which can be linked to differences in personality, beliefs, and the education level of an individual (Mattys, Seymour, Attwood, & Munafò, 2013).
Is Public Speaking a Fear?
Speech anxiety, also known as glossophobia, emanates from the inability of an individual to express his or her ideas publicly as planned. The fear of public speaking has existed from time immemorial and has affected the social lives of many people. This fear could be attributed to a myriad of factors. Speaking is governed by the cultural attributes of the society. Therefore, the fear of public speaking may arise from attempts to avoid clashing with the culturally-placed precepts. This fear should not be overlooked.
Causes of the Fear of Public Speaking
The list of the causes of anxiety during public speaking is inexhaustible. Nevertheless, they can be categorized into two main types: internal (psychophysiological factors) and external factors (Kumar et al., 2017). Internal factors include personal attributes with the main determinants being the mental and emotional state of an individual. On the other hand, external factors comprise stimuli from the environment such as noise and attention (or reactions) of the target audience.
Internal factors contributing to the fear of public speaking are thought to be the most influential dynamics. They range from health problems, low self-esteem, depression, aggressiveness, dissatisfaction with one’s abilities, among other factors. External factors, in contrast, are defined by the environment, which comprises cultural beliefs, language barrier, the general response of the audience, past failures, the fear of being ridiculed, and noisy audiences. There is a need to learn techniques that are helpful in overcoming the fear of public speaking to become a confident and fluent orator.
Important Techniques to Overcome Glossophobia
Public speaking is one of the indispensable tools for changing society. Every individual should be familiar with ways to avoid the fear of public speaking. With modern technology where the Internet rules, one can cope with the fear of public discourse by avoiding communal encounters through the use of electronic mails and social media, which offer fewer one-on-one interactive sessions (Kumar et al., 2017).
Knowing the right message to get across is an art that should be learned. Consequently, it is important to practice reciting one’s speech beforehand, especially when intending to give crucial information to the public. Practicing before the speech helps to instill a sense of confidence during the presentation. It is also important to anticipate different reactions from the public and plan how to react. In extreme cases of phobia, an individual can seek professional help. Virtual reality therapy is reported to be effective in overcoming public speaking phobia (Malbos, Rapee, & Kavakli, 2013).
The sole intention of overcoming public speaking fears is to feel safe and confident during an oration. Once one realizes that they lack confidence when addressing a group of people, he or she should take the necessary steps to gain confidence. The education system should also be involved in improving students’ oratory skills by encouraging them to present speeches on simple topics to their classmates.
Kumar, M., Kalakbandi, V., Prashar, S., & Parashar, A. (2017). Overcoming the effect of low self-esteem on public speaking anxiety with mindfulness-based interventions. Decision, 44(4), 287-296.
Malbos, E., Rapee, R. M., & Kavakli, M. (2013). Creation of interactive virtual environments for exposure therapy through game-level editors: Comparison and tests on presence and anxiety. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 29(12), 827-837.
Mattys, S. L., Seymour, F., Attwood, A. S., & Munafò, M. R. (2013). Effects of acute anxiety induction on speech perception: Are anxious listeners distracted listeners? Psychological Science, 24(8), 1606-1608.