glossophobia meaning, symptoms & treatment

I, Neerja Bhatnagar welcome all of you to my article ‘Giossophobia’. Reading this article will help you to know and understand the meaning  of it and the symptoms of a person suffering with Glossophobia. It will also help you to relate it somewhere with your life.

I would like to share an instance which did change my life in some way or the other. I was given the charge to compeer a cultural function for an organization holding an audience of nearly 2000 people. I was very confident preparing the matter to speak and was in full go, to be successful.

The day came and one by one the hours passed by. The function was about to start and I had symptoms like shaking of hands and sweating. I knew something can be wrong if I didn’t gather myself and convince that things are under my control.

The first step towards the stage was very heavy. My legs were shaky and hands were getting cold. I talked to myself that if I loose this opportunity I will never be able to compeer confidently or maybe face the public courageously in future.

While walking to the stage I, with  my whatever amount of confidence was left in me , convinced my subconscious  mind that it’s me and me who can just do it.  I started the compeering with a shaky word hello but then slowly I gained the confidence to finish the program.  I conquered my fear which could have been turned into a phobia in a course of time, if I had not  faced the situation. The program  ended with full success.

Fear is a normal response to the stress of speaking or performing in front of people. When fear limits your life, career or relationships and disrupts your normal activity then it is termed as having a phobia.

Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking. It comes from the Greek word 'glossa' meaning tongue and 'phobia' meaning fear or dread. It is also termed as speech anxiety.

The speech anxiety can be grouped into three categories depending upon the symptom- physical, verbal and non-verbal.

Glossophobia is a social phobia or fear of social situations. The fear of public speaking is experienced by nearly all of us but those who develop an irrational abnormal fear which hampers the normal activities leading to loneliness and many more complications, is alarming.

Public speaking is considered one of the greatest fears a person can have, even greater than fear of death. Nearly 75% of people suffer with the fear of public speaking.  I would like to share a quote -
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” – John Ford

Causes of Glossophobia:
Glossophobia or the fear of public speaking can be caused by a number of experiences in life, including:

1.A traumatic event in early life, which may or may not be directly linked to speaking in public, or having to perform.

2.The 'under-socialization' of a child, whereby the child doesn't build up confidence in his or her own ability. This can often be caused by an overprotective parent, for example.

3.A low self esteem, where the person feels that what they have to say isn't important.

4.The expectation of failure, sometimes due to being overly criticized in early life.

In a survey it was found that 95% of speakers suffer with anxiety or nervousness while speaking in public. One can easily notice the fear in them by noting some of the common symptoms.

Symptoms-Let us know some of the symptoms:

1) The physical symptom of speech anxiety can be – increased heart rate, increased BP , dilated pupils , increased perspiration , increased oxygen intake , stiffening of neck or upper back muscles and dry mouth.

2) The verbal symptoms are just not limited to tense voice, a quivering voice and repetition of “Umms” and “Ahhs” (vocalized pauses) which are used by speaker to comfort themselves

3) The other symptoms can be stress, shakiness, weak voice, and sweating, go red and feel heart thumping rapidly.

4) Many people show a symptom of stress induced speech disorders.

5) Some Glossophobia patients can dance, perform in public and can even speak or sing if the audience is not visible to them.

6) Stuttering and stammering in public situations. Being nervous or edgy.

The thought of public speaking can leave us frozen with fear.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld used to joke that at the funeral, most people would rather be lying in the casket than delivering eulog.

Glossophobia can exhibit itself in many ways:

Actors and musicians finding shows and concerts extremely difficult.

Business people having a fear of making presentations.

Pilots or cabin crew feeling intensely uncomfortable to make announcements to passengers during a flight.

Side effects of Glossophobia:

1.Having a feeling of insecurity.


3 Poor self esteem

4.Depression and isolation

5.One feels emotionally naked and inadequate of verbally voicing out their inner thoughts.

Treatments: Any phobia can be treated and cured if detected by the therapist or any family member at the right time .Some of the treatments are-

1.Talk therapy or self help therapy.It helps the person to recognize their fear and face it.

2 Medication- In this a person is given some medicine which calms down and comforts him very soon. Generally medicine is given before facing the public. Beta blockers are given usually to calm a person.

3 Some organizations also help a person to overcome the fear of public speaking. They polish a person in public speaking skills through repetition and constructive criticism. In this way they help the person to build up the confidence and reduce anxiety.

4.Meditation can also help to relax a person suffering with the fear of public speaking.

5.Hypnoanalysis is one of the good methods to cure it. It has healed and cured countless people.

6.Homeopathy treatment is one of the good alternatives to cure a person. Some of the medicine given are-Gelsemium chocolatum, Graphites which help to reduce the anxiety levels, conquer shyness, worries and promote calmness.

Coping measures: Some are listed below-

1.Take a deep breath to stay calm.

2.If you are nervous amongst people stand apart.

3. Wear comfortable clothes.

4.Do not allow yourself to get overheated.

5.If your hands shake rest them on the podium.

6.You can calm yourself by saying a prayer.

7.Prepare your material thoroughly.

8.Learn to manage the pressure.

9.Interact with the audience.

10.Ask yourself a question –What is the worst that can happen?

Overcoming the anxiety can also be a matter of just putting in place the right coping strategies. Though fear of public speaking is quite common, sufferers are typically reluctant and embarrassed to admit their problem.

Society is a judgmental beast that has the tendency to eat you alive the minute you expose your weakness.

This is perhaps the most common reason I feel why many are afraid to admit their fear of public speaking.

I would like to end my article here with the following line-
There are always 3 speeches for everyone-one you actually gave, one which you practiced and one that you wished you could have given.

I sign off from my article with lot many things for you to think over. I hope the article was interesting and helped you to know something more about Glossophobia.

Author’s profile- Ms. Neerja Bhatnagar is an environmentalist, a lecturer, a social worker, a classical dancer and a soft-skill trainer/ consultant. She is a recipient of various academics and literary accolades including President’s Gold Medal and Directors Silver Medals at university level. Travelling and good music are her passion. Presently she is engaged in pursuing an advanced diploma in counseling and guidance.
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