Man LaughingGlossophobia. Sounds a tad scary, doesn't it? Have you ever heard of it? It is not fear of lip gloss. It is fear of public speaking and it’s estimated that 75% of us have it! 

For some people, glossophobia can be so severe that even speaking up in small groups can trigger anxiety, so they stay silent. 

This can really hamper your career.  If you suffer from glossophobia, this article is written for you! 

 

You Are NOT a Lone Ranger!

First, understand how common this is.  It is one of the single most common fears.  Virtually everyone has it, so no need to berate yourself. Give yourself a break for being normal!

Since most everybody can relate, you have a lot of support and understanding out there. 

If you bring up the subject at work, chances are high that others, probably even more scared than you, will appreciate you breaking the ice. 

If public speaking is something common to your job, then take the lead and suggest a committee to offer support and resources. You can all get together, share horror stories, tactics, snacks, and a few laughs. This will help others in the office and make you look like a bit of a hero, which is always a good thing.   

As with all things, fear of public speaking exists in degrees.  On the deep end of the spectrum, people can be totally crippled by the anxiety but in the shallow end, someone might just feel a smidgeon nervous.

Where on the spectrum are you? If you have it really bad, and if your job requires you to speak in public often, then you might need more help than one article can provide, but if you have a mild case, then putting everything in perspective and learning a few tricks will do.  

 

Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Overcoming the Anxiety of Public Speaking

Once you pat yourself on the back for being normal, the next step in overcoming a fear of public speaking is to think of the reality of your situation. What is really the worst that could happen?  You might feel like your heart is pounding so hard that it will soon explode and cause instant death, but that really won’t happen. 

Take some deep breaths and imagine a pretty scene in your head for a bit of instant relief.   

The worst-case scenario is probably that you’d be a bit embarrassed. There isn’t a person in the world who has not been embarrassed at one point or another so it is highly unlikely that anyone will hold it against you. 

Being embarrassed is actually the crux of the entire phobia. People are afraid of public speaking because public speaking gives us all the opportunity to expose ourselves as idiots. Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt, right? 

Yes, BUT there are two great ways to make sure you don’t sound like a fool. 

  1. Be prepared and know what you are going to say. 
  2. Practice! 

Prepared remarks can be edited, rewritten, and edited some more to make sure that your speech is accurate and easy to understand. Have someone you trust listen to the speech and give you some pointers. If you are this prepared, you simply cannot look stupid. Well, unless your pants fall down, so make sure and wear a belt. :)

Unprepared remarks are a bit harder of course and I’ll get to that in a minute. 

Practice probably won’t make it perfect, but it will make a world of difference. If you practice a lot, when the time actually comes, you are bound to feel more comfortable. 

Even if you just practice speaking to an empty room, it will help you get comfortable hearing your voice out loud. Trust me when I say that becoming comfortable with the sound and feel of your voice as you project enough so the back row can hear, is a large part of the battle. 

We simply do not speak that way very often, unless you yell at your kids or dog a lot. Speaking out loud in an authoritative way feels and sounds quite different than ordinary conversation.  Your body vibrates more, it takes more breath and more energy. This all adds to the stress of the moment. 

Becoming comfortable with that process alone is going to pay off. Seriously. It might sound a bit kooky but try reading a passage out of a book out loud to an empty room. Get used to how you feel and sound. Do it until it no longer causes your stomach to twist in knots. 

If you are delivering a written speech, practice that of course, but even if you are often in situations where there is no prep time, becoming comfortable with the process of standing up, speaking loudly, clearly and with confidence, is truly beneficial in getting rid of the jitters.   

 

What if You Are Always in Ad-lib Situations? 

Public speaking is really more than just giving prepared speeches. Speaking up at an employee meeting or talking to clients can cause the same type of stress as giving a speech. 

If this describes your experiences, and you cannot prepare EXACTLY what you are going to say, you might still be able to come up with a list of well-thought-out phrases to get the ball rolling.

Come up with some good openers and good transition lines. Practice those. Prepare some stock answers to common questions. 

Also, come up with some good lines that can give you some time to stall or perhaps find the correct information. You won’t look like an idiot if you admit you don’t know everything! In fact, most people have respect for someone who doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. 

How about something like this: “That’s a great question and actually, I am not 100% sure.  I don't want to get it wrong, so if I could get back to you on that one after a bit of research on my part, that'd be great.”

Being prepared with generic statements that can fit into just about any situation is definitely a winning strategy. 

Self-confidence will come the more you practice and prepare. I predict someday you will look back and say, now why was I so nervous?  Public speaking (shrug), it’s nothing to worry about!

 

Software Will Never Laugh at You

Some jobs don’t require us to speak in front of other people.  For example, if you work on a computer all day, you might be able to breeze through life without ever worrying about public speaking!  You lucky duck! 

We offer SAP training. The need for SAP training is probably even more common than the fear of public speaking!  Only 75 of people experience the phobia, but 90% of the world’s businesses rely on SAP programs!  So no matter where you work if you find some SAP courses online and sign up, you can increase your value as an employee. Imagine the huge smile on the boss’s face if you were to walk in and surprise them with an SAP certification!  You can learn SAP online in your spare time!  Improving your skills is always a great strategy!   


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Lorraine Grula is a curious and compassionate Okie native who grew up on politics and science. She loves to read, write and study the world and shares her insights in our blog.
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