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5 Top Causes of Fear of Public Speaking

The fear of public speaking is a phobia that affects millions of people throughout the world, from children to the elderly. It is called Glossophobia from the Greek; glosso meaning tongue and phobia meaning fear. It is an intense anxiety disorder that affects more people than any other. It has been said that people with a public speaking phobia fear this phobia more than they fear death. The fear is irrational and can hinder a person's ability to speak comfortably in public, whether in a classroom, in the workplace or in any public situation. It can be extremely crippling and can prevent one from taking advantage of opportunities that arise in life due to the inability to converse publicly. Here are the symptoms of a public speaking phobia and its five top causes.

Symptoms of a public speaking phobia

The intense fear present in a phobia is always out of proportion to the potential danger. But to the person with the fear, the danger is real. The following are reactions that a person with a public speaking phobia exhibits.

1. Intense anxiety- at the speaking engagement, or even at the thought of the engagement.

2. Avoidance of the speaking event- the person will always try to avoid speaking whether by canceling the presentation, feigning illness, or finding a substitute speaker.

3. Physical distress-resulting from activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the "fight or flight" response, a built in protective mechanism that the brain uses to enable a person to escape a dangerous situation. Distress symptoms include: • Nausea • Diarrhea • Panic o Increased heart rate o Increased blood o Dilated pupils o Increased perspiration o Dry mouth o Stiff muscles • Insomnia • Trembling

Top 5 causes of a public speaking phobia

The causes are many, but they can be different for each individual. Here are the top 5 on the list.

1. Negative thinking -Negative thinking is common in those with anxiety disorders and actually helps fuel the anxiety, causing it to flare up in an acute attack of anxiety. If you believe that you are going to fail, you will unconsciously sabotage every opportunity to succeed. The way you think determines whether the results are positive and beneficial or negative and harmful.

2. Fear of acute embarrassment -The fear of making a complete fool of ourselves in front of friends, work colleagues and people that matter in our life. For some, there are unfortunately powerful emotional memories of an embarrassing situation that happened in the past. These anchored memories are then dramatically recalled and reinforced every time the thought of public speaking arises.

3. Insecurity and low self-esteem-a person may feel that he is unworthy to have the opportunity to present information as a public speaker. He may lack confidence and feel that he will never know enough or be as good a speaker as those he deems are "good". The person may, thus, doubt his ability or knowledge of the material.

4. Perfectionism- a person may have very high standards for himself, which create pressure and a heightened fear of failure. The fears of many people are founded in the belief that they are responsible for always creating an extremely positive impression, and if they do not create this impression they will create a disaster. There is no middle ground.

5. Lack of Preparation- a person may be uncomfortable with the material that he will present due to a lack of preparation. This will lead to a fear of being asked questions that he cannot answer, or a fear that he will say something