“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfield
The famous Jerry Seinfeld punch line about the average person who would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy may still apply today even after 20 years – as statistics have shown according to a 2016 study by the National Institute Of Mental Health proving that 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety and around 5.3 million Americans have a social phobia.
Glossophobia, also known as the fear of public speaking, is an all-too-common phenomenon that millions of people struggle with globally. A fear of speeches may seem insignificant as compared to other forms of anxiety one may face, but it must not be taken for granted – for this condition, if not conquered as early as possible, is a social phobia that has the potential to drastically affect both personal and professional relationships, decreasing the overall quality of life and in turn, increase the levels of depression.
Eliminating the fear of public speaking is the ultimate key to the success of all forms of communication and career opportunities. It means being able to express your thoughts at a project meeting or answer spontaneous questions in front of a camera if the news crew shows up. On the personal front of some of life’s biggest events, it also means the adaptability and ability to give a speech at important weddings or delivering an eulogy at the funeral of a loved one.
Overcoming glossophobia can be challenging, but it is not impossible if one is equipped with the right skills. In this article, Speech Academy Asia unlocks that key to 6 healthy ways to eliminate the big fear of public speaking so you can be more confident sharing your thoughts in the workplace and other social settings.
Only Have 10 Minutes? Use The 10 Minute UMP Strategy
Some people, even professionals who give speeches daily, regard delivering a speech as no problem. This no problem approach comes with its drawbacks. People with this approach are filled with overwhelming confidence in their speaking abilities that they fail to prepare even an outline of their speech. In this case, no matter how skilled the speaker may be in his or her tonality and pronunciations, the content may lack direction, clarity and focus.
An easy 3 step strategy will help you manage the anxiety often associated with public speaking to improve the content and delivery of your speeches.
*Understand speech anxiety
*Manage physical and emotional responses
*Plan a course of action to effectively deal with those responses
U – Understand Speech Anxiety
Academic researchers use the term communication apprehension to describe Glossophobia and define it as “the fear or anxiety associated with real or anticipated communication with others” (Dwyer, 1998, p. 9).
Public speaking is a skill required by many professions and will progressively advance one in almost all business, educational, and social situations. In careers ranging from the legal profession to sales, marketing to engineering, volunteering to teaching, effective public speaking skills are an asset and often a requirement for success. Instead of thinking of public speaking as a punishment, consider it as a meaningful addition to your personal toolbox of skills and abilities. In fact, public speaking has three key advantages: 1) it develops critical thinking skills, 2) encourages creativity, and 3) plays a key role in leadership (McKay, 2000).
It is common for someone experiencing speech anxiety to have physical reaction before, during, and after a speech. Public speaking, from the mere possibility all the way through the speech itself, can trigger increased breathing and excessive nervous energy.
Reducing the threat of such reactions can be done by preparing strong outlines and practicing over and over again. Speech anxiety also frequently consists of a psychological reaction. Now that you have understood speech anxiety, the next section will address how to manage the anxiety so that it can be refocused into something useful.
M – Manage Your Response
With an understanding of Glossophobia, you are ready to consider ways to manage it. One strategy for managing speech anxiety is to ensure that you are prepared to deliver an effective speech. Therefore, several rules for effective public speaking are presented below:
If you only have 10 minutes before the speech:
- Choose a topic that you know well
- Have a positive attitude towards your speech
- View the audience as a source of support
- Never read your speech directly – utilize pointers instead
- Know that nervousness is not readily seen by the audience
- Even the most accomplished speakers experience some level of arousal before a speech, the key is that they have learned to think of that arousal as excitement instead of a threat or anxiety.
And if you have extra days ahead of your speech presentation:
- Deep breathing exercises – to reduce heart rate
- Relaxation – do yoga, mediate, stretch
- Exercise – run, lift weights, swim, take an aerobics class
- Maintenance – sleep and eat well
- Find a calm place – imagine yourself in a desirable location
P – Plan Your Course Of Action
The following is a brief topical outline format that will help you organize an informative speech.
Greeting (good morning, afternoon, evening)
Credibility (what makes you a trustworthy and expert speaker on this topic)
Relevance (why is this topic important to the audience)
Point 1 (with evidence)
Point 2 (with evidence)
Point 3 (with evidence)
Notice (in conclusion, to summarize, etc.)
Consider What Is Said (Content), How It Is Said (Delivery), Who It Is Said To (Audience)
Keep in mind that effective speakers must consider how the audience might respond to the delivery and content of the speech. Speakers with a no problem approach are overtly confident in their own abilities that they forget how crucial the audience is to the success or failure of their speech. Speakers with Glossophobia on the other had, place the emphasis on the wrong and tend to focus more on what the audience might think about them and what they are presenting. Anxious speakers often invest a lot of time and effort into preparing a very informative speech but struggle to convey that information effectively. They may, for example, read their entire speech directly from the paper. Though informative, public reading is not nearly as interesting to the audience, nor as effective as public speaking. Equal emphasis must be given to audience and yourself – the speaker.
Get Rid Of Glossophobia And Take Charge Of Your Life Today!
Have you ever thought about climbing the corporate ladder and eventually finding yourself in a management or other leadership position? If so, then public speaking skills are very important. If you want people to follow you, you have to communicate effectively and clearly what followers should do. “Powerful leadership comes from knowing what matters to you. Powerful presentations come from expressing this effectively. It’s important to develop both.” *Bender, P. U. (1998).
“But after they settle in, you’ve still got to be funny because for an hour, just that fact that they get to see you live in a theatre is going to wear off if you’re not doing well.”
Those are once again, the words of Jerry Seinfeld. And while he was speaking about stand-up comedy, he could have been speaking about public speaking. If the audience are going to hear you speak for 20 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour, you better be good at what you are doing.