Do you ever get nervous when networking and meeting new people? Do you get tongue-tied when it’s your turn to introduce yourself? Do you experience physical distress, nausea or feelings of panic in such circumstances? If you do, you might be among the estimated 75% of all people who suffer from glossophobia.
Wikipedia tells us this:
“Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking or speaking in general. The word glossophobia comes from the Greek language γλῶσσα or glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος or phobos, meaning fear or dread. Many people only have this fear, while others may also have social phobia or social anxiety disorder. Stage fright may be a symptom of glossophobia.”
- Read more about the signs, symptoms and treatments for glossophobia in this article on the ChoosingTherapy website.
Watch this TV interview with me and TV anchor Bryan Jenkins of EbruToday. I share four ways in which you can overcome glossophobia and regain your full confidence when speaking in public, whether that’s in the context of a formal presentation or 1:1 networking.
Easy strategies to help you overcome Glossophobia
In my work as an executive presentation coach and professional speaker, I teach my clients and personally employ these four basic ways to eliminate anxiety and nervous energy prior to public speaking. They can be done by anyone at anytime and do not require any special training, skill or investment.
These techniques are part of a healthy regime of preparation for presentations, networking or whenever you step out of your comfort zone to grow personally and professionally. I use these simple methods all the time. It’s important to be in the right state of mind and body prior to presenting yourself and your ideas to others.
- Change your thoughts
- Change your feelings
- Change your body
- Practice, practice, practice
How to put these anxiety-reducing techniques into daily practice:
1. Visualize Your Success is a technique that will help you change your thoughts from negative to positive. You begin by engaging your imagination and envisioning how you great you are going to feel when your presentation is done. What will you see, do, hear, and think at least 15 minutes after the successful completion of your presentation? Use your imagination to paint a really positive and attractive picture of what your outcome will be like. This technique helps to eliminate or significantly reduce any anxiety. It helps you get excited for the presentation or the networking meeting. Anytime you have something important on the line, visualizing success is a great addition to your preparation.
2. Recall powerful, positive past memories is a potent way to change your feelings in the moment. Allowing yourself to be stuck in negative emotions such as fear, sadness, frustration, anxiety will only reduce your personal effectiveness. All you need to do is to recall a time in your past when you felt confident, powerful, happy or tranquil – any positive emotion will do. Go there in your mind right now and re-live that great moment through your mind’s eye. See if you can put yourself back in that positive event and look through your own eyes (versus watching yourself in the picture from a distance). This will heighten the emotional intensity. Your emotional state will begin to shift to a more positive state. See if you can maintain that good feeling as you begin your presentation.
3. Adjust your physiology is perhaps the easiest thing to do when you need to change your body. Smile, laugh, move around, jump or sit up straight. Any major shift in your body position or activity will have a neurological impact on your thoughts and feelings. The easiest physiological change you can do is to take calming breaths. First try exhaling all the old air out of your lungs; hold it for a second, then take a slow, deep breath. Exhale slowly through your nose. No one will notice what you are doing as we breathe all the time. Three slow, calming breathes can be enough to reset your whole body into a peaceful state of mind and body. Try it; you’ll like it!
4. Practice and rehearsal are perhaps the ultimate way to permanently free yourself from glossophobia. The more you do the things you fear, the less you fear them. Practice, practice, practice. You might want to join a group like Toastmasters International. They meet regularly and give you lots of opportunities to give speeches and impromptu talks. They have fantastic learning content and your Toastmaster peers will provide you with valuable feedback. Overtime, you will wonder what you were ever so nervous about. It’s not like you never did this before. Public speaking is just part of the job; it’s part of who you are and how you express yourself. Who knows, you may just come to enjoy it and seek it out!
Your Networking Goal for the Week:
Networking is an excellent way to practice speaking in public. Whether you attend organized networking events or meet 1:1 on with people in person or over the telephone, you will be practicing and gaining confidence in speaking, communicating and connecting with others.
If you find yourself a little anxious this week about networking with new people, implement one or more of the above techniques to help eliminate your fears and re-channel your nervous energy into something you can use.
Notice how often you default to social media and texting. Ask yourself if you are perhaps using these “safer” communication channels as a way of avoiding the act of having to actually speak in public. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this will help make you a better communicator. It will just mask your problem of glossophobia.
If you experience a great deal of physical distress with just the mere thought of public speaking (or when reading this blog), then consider working with a certified hypnotherapist. I recommend hypnotherapists Mark Shepard and his Clear the Fear Fast program and also hypnotherapist Stephanie Dalfonzo.I have worked with both of them personally and have referred other clients to them with success.
In closing for this week, let me leave you with one inspiring thought from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
That one thing could be public speaking through networking or presentations or both!