How To Get Glossophobia Under Control

What is Glossophobia? Glossophobia is the medical term for fear of public speaking. It affects as many as four out of 10 Americans.

Why do I insist on posting about that? Well, it’s simple. I belong to the ones too. I tried to get better but found all I could do was trying to get used to it. No matter what I do, a presentation, public speaking, playing piano on stage, the fear was all the same…

                              If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear? ~Stevie Nicks~

                             I love readings and my readers, but the din of voices of the audience gives me stage fright and the din         of voices inside whisper that I am a fraud and that the jig is up. Surely someone will rise from the audience and say out loud that not only am I not funny and helpful, but I’m annoying and a phony. ~Anne Lamott~

I get stage fright and gremlins in my head saying: ‘You’re going to forget your lines.’ ~Alan Rickman ~

Andrea Bocelli, Scarlett Johansson, Jeanne Moreau, they all have it. We are not alone in this. But then, Jean-Benoit Dunckel said: “It’s good to get stage fright. It is necessary to be scared; otherwise, you have too much confidence in yourself, and you start to get pretentious and do shitty things. It’s good not to be so confident in yourself.”

What will help us then? Can it be treated? Is there a chance for us to go through that? We’re talking about publicly speaking about our books, readings, interviews, Q & A’s. According to ‘Healthline’.com, Glossophobia is a social anxiety disorder, not an illness. It’s fear of social connection, fear of failure, fear of humiliation or insult.

Common symptoms are:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • trembling
  • sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath or hyperventilating
  • dizziness
  • muscle tension
  • urge to get away

How can Glossophobia be treated?

The one or other musician has been known to reportedly treat it with a well-measured dose of weed or other drugs. Not recommendable, in many medical opinions. But there are other medications, like antidepressants, beta-blockers, that treat high blood pressure, for example. If the Glossophobia is too strong and affects someone’s daily life, doctors can prescribe benzodiazepines, such as Xanax.

In many cases, psychotherapy might help. We are talking about cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychotherapist will help you ‘switch’ your thinking for you to overcome your Glossophobia, or at least dampen it to ‘tolerable‘.

There are, however, a few things that each ‘patient’ can do to help overcome that horrible feeling of fear. On ‘Speakerhub’ Martha Payne presented us with seven strategies to help us overcome our fears. (I used her strategies and added some tips and hints for us authors)

  1.     Prepare thoroughly

As mentioned, part of the fear might come from the horror of failure. ‘What if I’m not prepared properly? What if I don’t know the answers to some of the questions? What if…? The possibilities are endless.

A. Prepare

Know your topic, your subjects, and when you talk about your book, know your characters, know the plot, know your work process. You wrote them! Be confident!

B. Avoid memorizing

Don’t memorize. You don’t need to know your presentation by heart, and you don’t need to know your book by heart! Speak freely. If the presentation is done correctly, the cues on the presentation will help you through. Of course, you can print it out and use the ‘notes section’ to help you add things. But don’t write it word by word and read it to the audience. You will lose their attention.

  1.     Don’t rush 

Rushing tells your audience that you don’t care if they follow you or not and that you’re most likely on your way to something better, or you want to get out of there as fast as possible. It changes your body language and breathing pattern, and your audience is starting to focus on you and will judge you, not necessarily in a good way.

  1.     Practice voice control

There are many opportunities for speech therapy for adults that you can leverage if you wish to practice voice control. 

At the end of the practice, you will have learned how to breathe through the diaphragm as opposed to the chest. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is an invaluable technique for any public performer, including singers, pastors, and public speakers. There are several techniques for how to exercise diaphragmatic breathing. This one  is called the rib-stretch technique:

  1. Stand up and arch your back
  2. Breathe out as heavily as possible
  3. Start inhaling slowly and gradually, taking as much air as possible
  4. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds
  5. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. You can do this normally or with pursed lips

(This section was copied from the source)

  1.     Engage the audience

Create an interactive presentation and include your audience. A few rare smiles are helpful in that case. It helps to keep the audience intrigued and focused on the topic.

Interaction. Ask your audience questions and let them discuss something among themselves, which helps you collect yourself and gives you a short break.

  1. Add questions at the beginning of the presentation
  2. Ask for their opinion
  3. Use visuals or props (short videos)

   5.     Work on your body language

Your body language tells your audience a lot about you, most likely more than what you say. Don’t let your anxiety show on your face or body.

Avoid stiffness of the back, standing somewhere by the side of the ‘stage’ and whispering what you say. Be aware of your gestures, the movements of your hands and arms. And try to avoid pacing in front of your audience (and your presentation).

  1.      Face your fears

If you try to hide how scared you are, they will discover it even faster. Concentrate on the moment and avoid thinking about what will be after the presentation.

Under no circumstances remind yourself that you shouldn’t be on that stage because you deserve it through your hard work!

Avoid checking on your audience if someone notices your fear. Focus on what you have to do!

  1.     Stage presence is key

Be enthusiastic and energetic. 

Let everyone in the auditorium feel your presence. 

Smile freely without forcing it. 

Flow naturally and show everyone that you enjoy being there.

Delivering a speech involves much more than simply learning the words and saying them to an audience. Engaging speakers use their stage presence to draw their audience into their message and keep their attention throughout the talk.

Whether onscreen, onstage or in a workshop, stage presence means you’ve considered your space and where you fit in it and how this affects how the audience sees you.

Excellent stage presence includes;

  • aligning your body posture with the tone, you are talking about, 
  • adopting powerful body language, 
  • using the space effectively, 
  • projecting your voice appropriately. 

(This section was copied from the source)

And don’t forget you’re not alone! You’ll get them!

(Screenshot from a ‘’ image)

6 thoughts on “How To Get Glossophobia Under Control

  1. Good advice, AJ. I’ve not done public speaking in the sense of standing in front of an audience of strangers, but I was a teacher, and I think that helps. After all, you can’t appear scared in front of 30 or so teenagers. They’ll eat you alive!
    During my training, we did have some speech therapy, too. That helped with the breathing and voice projection.
    One thing I might query is the bit about not pacing. I always walked around when teaching. Many comedians do, too, when on the stage. I think if it’s done purposefully, with confidence, and not overdone, then it’s OK. But if it’s obvious that you’re pacing from nerves, the audience will pick it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great advice. I overcame a lot of this a long time ago, due to performing as a magician at parties, plus I also was part of Toastmasters for a couple of years. And basically, a lot of what you brought up here was covered in Toastmasters. Kudos!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great article, especially for writers who may have to face an audience someday, whether in an interview, a speaking engagement, or even a book signing session.

    A long time ago, when I first started singing in front of an audience, I was told to imagine all of them in their underwear. Personally, I’d rather not. LOL Another piece of advice was to pick out someone from the audience and focus on them. Someone you know and who supports you, if possible. And if you don’t know anyone, someone with a smiling, friendly face. Speak to them. Sing to them. That was a good piece of advice.

    But one of the most successful things I do now, and have done for years, is to pray just before I stand before that microphone. It works. The only problem left is the adrenaline that surges through me when I’m finished. That’s when my hands begin to shake. I praise God that He keeps it from occurring before or during the talk or song.

    Not that I wish this on anyone, but it is comforting to know so many famous people are in the same boat with us. 🙂 Thank you, AJ.

    Liked by 1 person

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