Starve the Fear of Public Speaking

By Sandy Lawrence on September 7, 2017 in Communication

If you suffer from glossophobia (fear of public speaking), it doesn’t really matter what initially caused your problem.  You have to get over it if you are going to sell many books.

Glossophobics have neural pathways that divert your emotions down well-worn tracks of terror and fear, accompanied by an orchestra of extreme physical symptoms.  You can learn more about the neural pathways in our previous post, Do You Have a Fear of Public Speaking?

Fear of public speaking


Overcoming Your Fear

It doesn’t matter why you are fearful of public speaking:  You still need to overcome your fear if you want to experience true success in business.  Overcoming the fear of public speaking will also help you feel confident and happy in life and at home in every situation.

But how do you tackle such a fear?

The number one fix is to recognize that there has been a secret enemy helping you “feed the fear”. It has been deepening the channels of your brain all by itself while you got on with the business of life.

That “secret enemy” is procrastination.

Here’s how procrastination works…

  • You’ve developed a mild dislike or even a downright phobia about public speaking. So you decline invitations to speak in public and happily recommend others who would be “better at it”.
  • You avoid situations where you have to get up in public and be “singled out”.
  • You slink down in your seat when someone asks for a volunteer to get up and give a testimonial, tell an anecdote or take part in a demonstration.

In other words, you procrastinate. You put off being the one to get up there.

You may think you are “avoiding” public speaking – but what you are actually doing is actively digging yet another few inches out of your glossophobic (fear of public speaking) neural pathway, permanently deepening it.

How does this affect your psyche?

Even in the most otherwise-confident person, when a public speaking opportunity has been avoided, there’s a secret smidgen of shame and a slight, barely-acknowledged feeling of failure, tucked away behind the immediate relief.

It’s like being a dieter who secretly helps yourself to a tub of ice cream when no one is home.

Sort of like telling a lie out of fear or the wish to please, and knowing that although everyone else believes in you and trusts you and would never suspect you of lying, you are perfectly aware you told that lie. It makes you feel like a weasel.

These are the negative type feelings you produce when you consistently procrastinate or avoid public speaking opportunities.

If you are reading this post,  and are actually one of the people who really wants to – or needs to – stop feeding the wolf.

You are ready to starve the fear.

Starving the Fear

And here’s how to begin to starve the fear:

Recognize all your old, familiar excuses.

Think of past events where you wiggled out of getting up in front of a group. What did you say to yourself? How did it make you feel better about refusing?

Have you ever felt that you had let someone – or a group – or an audience – down by refusing to speak?

Did you ever feel: “I could have told them easily how to do that?”

Now write down those old familiar excuses, stripping them down to their most basic form.

Stop procrastinating.

Look for small opportunities now where you can actually step forward.

One of the easiest exercises to adopt right away: Start introducing yourself to people at social functions if that is not something you normally do.

Concentrate on putting that person at ease – not on your own shakiness, nervousness or fear.

Make it simple: Your name, plus one fact about yourself relevant to the occasion.  (“Hi, I’m Robin. I’m the one who always brings fruit salad to picnics.”)

Say it with a smile.

Don’t frighten the person to death by thrusting your face into theirs and grinning. Just set your face into a slight smile before you walk up to the person you plan to approach. Take a gentle but deep breath, hold it for a second, and let all your tension out when you slowly exhale.

Stop and wait.

After you’ve said your piece, keep smiling at the person you’ve just spoken to and wait for them to respond. Don’t rush into nervous babbling, if this is a habit of yours. Practice being comfortable with waiting.

And here’s the wonderful secret to saying your piece and simply waiting for a response:

  • This tells the person you’re speaking to that you are interested in them
  • Reassures them you are easy to speak to
  • It relaxes them
  • It makes them want to find something to say in response

You’ve put the ball in their court. It’s their turn now.

In our next post, we will discuss all the questions and “buts” you are probably telling yourself.

Perceptive PR


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Sandy LawrenceView all posts by Sandy Lawrence


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