Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, affects millions. It is one of the most common fears and is a form of social phobia, or fear of social situations. It can cause individuals to avoid settings where they are the center of attention or have to speak in front of a group, such as meetings or presentations. Symptoms of glossophobia include the following, according to Forbes:
- Dry mouth
- Sleep loss
- Dilated pupils
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
For those who want to move up in their career, glossophobia can present a stumbling block. As leaders are often judged by their ability to communicate with a crowd, business professionals greatly benefit from sharpening their public speaking skills. As Psychology Today puts it, “Human interactions are based on communication, and there are few skills more important than being able to effectively convey your ideas to others. Not addressing this fear is a sure way to undermine your own success. On the other hand, being able to master the art of ‘owning the room’ will grant you numerous advantages in your professional and personal life.”
It is important to note that the fear of public speaking is not always a debilitating issue. Glossophobia is a clinical term, but individuals can have milder symptoms that are easier to address. However, no matter the level of anxiety you feel, the ability to communicate effectively äóî even to large crowds äóî is a crucial element of ongoing success in the business world.
Glossophobia can be treated in a variety of ways, one of the most common being cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). For less serious cases, there are several strategies that can lessen anxiety and the other symptoms associated with the fear of public speaking, making the individual more comfortable when it is required.
Glossophobia by the Numbers
Fear of public speaking is the most common phobia. In fact, it is estimated that 74 percent of the population experiences some form of anxiety before a speech or presentation. What is most interesting about this is that fear of death comes after fear of public speaking for many people: just 68 percent of the population identifies death as their most intense fear.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of business professionals report that presentations are crucial to their success at work, and the same survey found that 20 percent of employees would do “almost anything” to avoid giving a presentation. It’s clear that overcoming fear of public speaking is vital for many individuals in the workplace.
Strategies to Reduce Speech Anxiety
With the right preparation and practice, it is possible to overcome a fear of public speaking. The following steps can help.
- Don’t expect perfection. It is important to remember that the audience does not expect you to be an unforgettable orator. You are there to share information, and people want to hear what you have to say. The success of business presentations relies on substance more than style. Even the most experienced speakers occasionally stumble over their words. If you need to pause in order to gather your thoughts, the audience won’t mind äóî and may not even notice.
- Understand your topic. If you are comfortable with your topic, chances are you won’t be as nervous when the time comes to present. It is a good idea to think of potential questions the audience might ask and work to address them ahead of time. This can also help you gain a deeper understanding of the material. When you carefully plan out your presentation, it helps calm nerves and keeps you on track.
- Schedule practice time. The more practice you have, the better when it comes to public speaking. The Mayo Clinic suggests running through your presentation multiple times and presenting it to someone you feel comfortable with. Getting feedback can help you improve. It may also be helpful to record yourself so you can evaluate body language and other elements.
- Focus on the material, not the audience. When presenting, try to keep your focus on the information you are sharing rather than on the audience itself. You are there to present new information to an interested group, so chances are your audience is already engaged.
- Don’t rush the presentation. Take your time when presenting, rather than trying to rush through and get it over with. If you can speak clearly and deliberately, your audience will grasp the material better. When you are nervous, adrenaline is high and this can lead to shaking and other visible signs of nervousness. Make sure you remember to breathe, as deep breaths can help you relax.
Glossophobia and Your Professional Life
One of the most invaluable skills in the business workplace is being able to communicate well, whether with employees, customers, investors, or others. That is what makes public speaking a key business skill that can “make or break your company,” regardless of how much experience you may have, according to Forbes. “You can’t win as an entrepreneur working alone, and without speaking in public, just like you can’t build a business from your invention without good business skills,” the same article explains. Here are just some of the business situations in which public speaking is important, Forbes says:
- Addressing a group of investors for funding
- Appearing on a panel of experts
- Hosting customer seminars to drive growth
- Being a keynote speaker at conferences or employee update meetings
- Representing your company at industry association events
Opportunities for public speaking may arise both internally within your organization or outside it when working with the community, other companies, and more. When you are comfortable speaking in public, you can tailor your message for each type of audience, Chron Small Business says. This is especially beneficial for individuals looking to start a business or pursue entrepreneurial ventures. “Over time, you learn to think on your feet, taking information from the social environment and changing your communication patterns to suit the occasion,” Chron continues.
Public speaking skills are particularly important for professionals in leadership roles. They are tasked with motivating employees, informing stakeholders of business strategy, pitching to potential clients, and more. If leaders are able to communicate effectively, they are more likely to meet their goals.
Prepare for Success with King University
Another smart way to reduce speech anxiety in your professional life is to pursue an advanced business education that prepares you for the challenges of the modern business world. King University offers a fully online MBA that prepares students with the knowledge and experience to feel confident in the workplace. Specializations are available in the following areas:
- Healthcare Management
- Human Resource Management
- Project Management
- Non-profit Management
- Management Information Systems
In this program, you will learn advanced business skills related to management, decision-making, communication, and more, along with specialized coursework that gives you the skills you need no matter what your goals are. Find out where an MBA from King University can take your career.