Glossophobia (and how to overcome it)
12 February 2020
Equipping our students to face their fear and thrive!
Glossophobia, or a strong fear of public speaking, is a very common phobia among adults and children. In fact, research suggests that approximately 75% of the global population is affected by some level of a fear of public speaking – whether mild or extreme (Black, Rosemary, 2019)
Luckily, there are ways to help combat this very real and very common fear – and the younger we start facing this anxiety, the better!
Conquering your fear
Have you ever shrieked when coming face-to-face with a spider? Run out of the room and called for help? I’m with you, but the truth is the only way to nip that in the bud is to face that spider – or whatever else is creating that same effect in your life. Often in life we tend to run from what we fear and keep running! So, stop running and take the necessary action to remedy this fear.
Don’t worry, you can start small – try doing a presentation on your favourite topic in front of your family, your friends, the mirror, your pets – whoever will listen! Once you conquer this, try a bigger audience.
For us parents, it’s important to create a space for children to feel like their thoughts and opinions matter. Involve them in family decisions whenever possible, and prompt them to speak for themselves when asked a question. Instead of asking simply how their day was, which will almost always get a shrug and a grunt, ask your child to describe the highs and lows, the most memorable moment of the day, something they learnt – this will encourage more explanation, elaboration and communication.
Practice, practice, practice
Consider taking part in a weekly drama, public speaking or debating program to help break those barriers. A weekly group will help you form bonds with your coach and fellow classmates, ultimately helping you conquer that fear!
Know your material – you will be much more comfortable talking about something about which you know a lot about and are interested in! We usually start off super nervous in the beginning, so it might be worth spending more time on practicing your introduction to get off on a good start.
Make sure you take a moment to…
Breathe! Yes, I know it may sound obvious and silly, but when we are very anxious, stressed or nervous, we hold our breath and create more tension in our bodies. Taking a few long inhales and exhales before presenting really helps tell your brain that you’re safe and leads to you feeling more relaxed. Incorporate some bodily movement in conjunction with the breath – rolling your shoulders, placing your hands on your tummy to feel the breath move up and down. Drinking a few sips of water may also help take that nervous energy down a notch.
Remember, you’re not the only one! Everybody gets nervous from time to time, so be kind to yourself! Keep in mind we are human, and nobody gets it right every single time! Your audience is there to support you – you’ve got this!