Fear of Public Speaking

  • What it is
  • Why it happens
  • How to overcome it

 What is Fear of Public Speaking?

Fear of public speaking is a very common problem and it adversely affects the lives of many successful professionals. Most sufferers feel too embarrassed to acknowledge it, even if only to find out how to get effective help.

It’s no secret that both established and up and coming executives and professionals are expected to prepare and deliver effective public presentations.  Fear of public speaking affects 74% or more of the population and creates an anxiety that can be immobilizing.

It’s the number one fear in America, followed by fear of death. Knowing that it is common doesn’t seem to help…

Many wait until this fear is about to have a devastating effect on their career before finally getting help.

Anticipation is agonizing…

The symptoms of public speaking fear often begin before the public speaking event or performance. It’s common for people to begin experiencing anxiety as soon as they are tasked with a public appearance. This is known as anticipatory anxiety; symptoms can include:

  • An ongoing state of worry about the event
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Headaches
  • Stomach distress
  • Preoccupation with potential failure
  • Avoiding necessary preparation. 

Feelings of anxiety can surface up to a year or more before the scheduled event. Examples of this include: preparing to make opening remarks at an annual business meeting or being asked to be best man for a wedding 18 months away.

At the microphone, anxiety becomes panic…

As the dreaded event gets closer, the anxiety intensifies.  As the individual approaches the microphone after being introduced, symptoms often include:

  • A state of real terror
  • Shaking or cracking voice
  • Pounding heart
  • Excessive sweating
  • Twisting stomach
  • Tunnel vision 

The worst symptom of all: little to no recollection of the contents of the speech. 

Why does it happen?

 Why can these symptoms be so severe?

Humans are equipped with instincts for self preservation, which can be triggered by either real or imagined danger. 

These primitive “fight, flight, freeze, appease” instincts reside in a part of the brain beneath the high level thinking brain – the cortex, that wrinkly grey matter we all know about. Instantaneous, emotion driven reactions rule the more primitive area of our brain the area that lies beneath the cortex. When fear strikes, logic, reason, and even language to define the threat are unavailable. Instinctive fear reactions shut down the high level thinking brain in order to survive. 

What makes the fear happen again and again? 

As that primitive part of the brain goes through life, it adds every experience that feels overwhelming to its list of life threatening dangers.  Anything that FEELS like the original fearful event triggers the same level of intense fear.

Loud noises and angry shouting can be overwhelming for a tiny baby and may create a terror of loud anger that persists throughout their life. Embarrassment over a bungled piano recital at age 8 can be demoralizing and has been know to result in a lifetime of performance anxiety.

Where did my speech go???

One of the worst symptoms of this fear reaction is your “thinking brain” (the cortex) turns off the area where your speech and your ability to deliver it are stored.

Breaking the links between past and present overwhelming experiences can conquer this kind of fear.

Can fear of public speaking be cured? 

Intensity of fear varies widely…

Many people with anxiety for public speaking can overcome their fear with training and years of speaking in front of others.

Others, however, find that no amount of training, coaching, or speaking experience reduces their anxiety level at all.  It is primarily for those with a crippling level of anxiety that this Fear of Public Speaking Coaching practice was created. Its purpose is to dramatically reduce or even completely eliminate this oppressive, confidence eroding, state of mind.

We now have the tools and techniques to drastically reduce these fears, along with all the techniques for managing anxiety while presenting. Powerful and relatively new techniques can and have produced near to full recovery.

Training can take place in person or remotely via Skype.

Contact Nancy Cetlin to schedule an appointment today and learn how you can overcome the fear of public speaking.