Have you ever struggled speaking in public or in groups of people you do not know? Maybe you still do? I know I have and I wanted to share my feelings about this and how it has changed as I got older.

Having a fear of speaking is known as ‘glossophobia’ according to ‘The National Institute of Mental Health’ 74% of people suffer with speech anxiety. 75% of women and 73% of men suffer with speech anxiety. It is known also that 5.3 million people in the UK have a social phobia and 3.2 million people fear crowded or public places.

Symptoms of glossophobia are as follows;

  • Intense Anxiety prior to or during the thought of having to verbally communicate with a group
  • Avoidance of events which focus a groups attention on individuals in attendance
  • Physical distress
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of panic

People who suffer with glossophobia may struggle with the smallest things like going to socialise in a bar or it could be having to present a piece of work at school or college. All ages, genders and ethnicities can be effected by glossophobia and the majority of the population are at some stage in their lives as the statistics shown earlier, it is a very high percentage. If people who suffer with glossophiba find tasks such socialising hard imagine how it effects their day to day life. They may feel like they don’t want to leave home because they will bump into a lot of people they do not know and could be put in a situation which made them feel uncomfortable at any time. They may only be able to speak openly with family members or some close friends they have known all their lives, so they could be very limited when it comes to talking to others. Some may struggle more than others with this as they can have different coping mechanisms or know their limits more so than others.

Some people may fear speaking to any stranger, it doesn’t even have to be speaking to a group in public, it could be a one to one conversation.

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My experience of public speaking;

Growing up I was always a very shy child and didn’t speak to many people at all because of this. I was constantly by my parent’s side and if I was spoken to I would hide behind my mom and go red in the face. That’s how uncomfortable I became when I was speaking to strangers or people I did not spend a lot of time around. As I got older I come out of my shell a little but I still think to this day I am quite shy, I couldn’t feel completely comfortable if I had to speak in front of a group of people who I didn’t know now but I would find it easier than I used to. I suppose in a way I grew out of this but it’s not always that east so maybe I was lucky?

I used to cry when my mum would leave me at school when I first started because I was so scared of being in a situation of not knowing anyone but I also knew I was not the only one in that position. I will always remember when I first started secondary school and I was in a music class and we had to learn a sequence on the keyboard, I was trying my hardest to do this but couldn’t seem to pick it up. Eventually the teacher stopped us and was asking random members of the class to demonstrate their work, of course I was asked and tried to do it again. With all the class watching me I felt uneasy and very nervous, I still could not do it but the teacher wouldn’t let me stop she kept saying ‘try again’ I started sweating and went so shy knowing some class members were watching on and laughing, I was so close to tears the teacher finally noticed this and let me stop attempting. I will never forget that moment just because how uncomfortable and upset it made me being put on the spot several times.

As I went further through secondary school I made a lot of friends and they helped me become more confident in myself and my abilities. I then moved onto college and it was the same situation of meeting a group full of new people as none of my friends did the same course as me at college. I remember weeks before college had to start me pleading not to go saying I would find a job instead but it was all down to that fear still. During college I surprised myself and managed to make friends quickly as the people were a lot more mature and all were in the same boat. We had to do a lot of class presentations as assignments and I was always nervous, I would be presenting my work whilst sweating as I always have and one tutor noticed I always seemed to turn my earring I was wearing at the time and I didn’t even notice I was doing it. Maybe that was a coping mechanism for me which I didn’t realise I did until it was picked up on.

I would say I am now a lot more confident than I was, probably more confident communication wise than I have ever been and that’s down to school, college and work and in a way, being forced into certain situations where I have been made uncomfortable. I suppose I learned from them. I know it’s not that easy and I would never suggest putting yourself in a situation where you can be made to feel how I did or worse. Everyone is different as I have said numerous times you just need to find your own coping mechanism. There are courses you can take to help this, that could be your way of overcoming it?

I have the thank The AOC where I am hugely grateful for the help they have provided me which has helped me communicate so much better than I used to. Not only speaking in person but also on the telephone/mobile and also in emails. I have supervision with my manager ‘Christian Dixon FRSA’ where he has helped me speak a lot more clearly and fluent as I used to mumble when speaking.

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“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” — Martha Graham

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.” — Mark Twain

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes


Thank you for reading.