Causes of Public Speaking Anxiety and How to Overcome It

Public Speaking AnxietyPublic speaking looks so simple when you watch and listen to other people. But when it is your turn, everything turns upside down and you feel like vanishing into thin air. Communicating your ideas boldly and presenting them clearly in the public are essential components of success across various domains of life.

Public speaking can open up many opportunities for you and help you advance your career, expand your business and improve your social skills. Through public speaking, you can easily promote your ideas and motivate the masses into taking action on issues affecting them in the society. Sadly, you may not be able to express yourself freely before a crowd of people or in a meeting because of anxiety among other factors. So, what are the causes of public speaking anxiety?

1. Your Physiology Matters the Most

First of all, your anxiety comes about because of the fear of public speaking. The technical term describing this new-found fear is Glossophobia and it appears when someone is performing or looking forward to making a speech or an oral presentation before a group of people.

Anxiety and fear involve arousal of your autonomic nervous system when responding to what can be described as a potential threat to stimulus. This is a common phenomenon whenever we’re confronted with what seems to be a threat. Our bodies prepare to repel that threat and in the process, anxiety and fear sets in thus interfering with our performance ability.

The same case is true when you are about to confront a large crowd of people. The moment you are close to your target audience, the emotional experience of fear takes control of you leading to anxiety. Once you are in this state, your ability to deliver a speech freely and boldly is greatly hindered.

Eventually, this physiological occurrence prevents you from composing yourself in front of many people. But to triumph in such a situation, you will need to find a way that you can conquer your fear and anxiety when addressing the public

2. Your Thoughts are Equally Importantspeaking anxiety

Another factor that causes public speaking anxiety is a belief about speaking in public as well as your own ability as a

speaker. Under normal circumstances, your thoughts on speaking in front of many people arise when you overestimate the stakes of expressing your ideas before your audience. This way, you will always get nervous and fail to deliver your speech confidently.

Also, your thoughts might make you feel that other people will view your speaking event as a likely threat to their image, credibility and status. In a bid to stay relevant to the topic, you may find yourself fumbling about trying to find the right words.

Negative views of yourself can also play a critical role in making you anxious when speaking in public. Such thoughts will definitely make you feel that you are not worthy of addressing the masses or you are a boring public speaker. This kind of situation can raise your anxiety and consequently, augment the fear of addressing the masses.

3. Different Situations Leads to Different Outcome

By nature, some people are anxious or they lack enough confidence to speak in public. But a time comes when some situations are likely to make you more anxious when engaging many people in a public forum. Some of these situations arise because of the following:

Lack of Experience-Experience matters the most in various spheres of influence. With enough experience on the subject matter, you will have confidence. On the contrary lack of experience will make you anxious when making a public speech.

Differences in status-Whenever you are faced with a task of speaking in front of people perceived to be of higher status, you are likely to experience fear and anxiety. These two factors come in especially when you think that those in higher status will challenge your ideas and bring you down.

The degree of Evaluation-This happens when you are faced with an imagined or real evaluation component in that particular situation. That is when your anxiety becomes apparent especially when addressing a group of individuals who already have the evaluation forms to fill out.

New Ideas-Sharing new ideas may make you feel worried about how your audience will receive them. In fact, you may get anxious when your public appearance entails presenting new concepts, ideas and findings. When you find yourself in such a situation, you will feel uncomfortable expressing yourself clearly, answering questions or dealing with the audience members who will try to challenge your ideas.

New Audience-Despite the fact that you may have experience in public speaking, you may find yourself getting nervous when facing a new audience. Fear may take full control of you, especially when facing an unfamiliar audience making your confidence a little shaky.

4. Improving on Your Public Speaking Skills

public speaking skillsSkills are an essential part of your performance regardless of the task at hand. Without proper skills, you will not be able to deliver good results. The same is true with public speaking. Your skills in addressing audiences are an added advantage to you. This is totally different from natural talent and it needs time to build and learn all necessary skills that will make you stand before other people and address them without showing signs of anxiety or fear.

Your skills will determine your competence which in turn will influence your confidence. And of course, your confidence is a sure antidote to any form of fear. Therefore, learn a few important skills, practice them and know where to apply them when speaking to your target audience.

Final Thought

Public speaking is an art that needs to be nurtured by anyone looking to address the masses in the future. Seeing other people make their speeches before their audiences look so easy but when faced with the same task, the reality dawns on you that indeed courage is paramount. One thing that inhibits your courage in such a situation is fear which leads to public speaking anxiety and then poor performance. Learn to overcome your fears and eliminate your anxiety before addressing people in the public. Once you overcome these two factors, everything will fall in place and public speaking will eventually become a piece of cake for you.

To Your Public Speaking Success,

Rod Taylor

Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

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  1. ajibola40

    Thanks for writing this article on causes of public speaking anxiety and how over come it. This article is helping me one way or the other because am going to face a crowd of people in coming days and am going to speak even if it is not more than 5min. I have practiced my speech over and over again but I just can’t gain the confidence yet I will put all that is written in this article to practice and I hope is works out fine 

    • Rod Taylor

      Hi there, thank you for the comment, and good luck on your speech, and yes, practice, practice, practice.

  2. aoluwatobi

    The ability to communicate your idea boldly and well presented to an audience of people is a vital component of success across various domains of life.
    Most people enjoy seeing people who are bold to speak in the public domain but its a weakness on their own part to face crowds and communicate their ideas properly.

    Some tends to have uncontrollable shaking in the voice and over other parts of their body whenever the table turns to them.Some people become so nervous with very fast heartbeat while some come under intense sweet from inside, deeply soaked as if bathed with water.

    I have been in this similar position, never knew its was a blessing in disguise for me until when I was able to overcome it. It has opened up many opportunities for me, helped me advance my career, and improve my social skills. 

    Public speaking helped to easily promote my ideas, motivated the masses into taking action on issues affecting them because I was able to easily navigate the pathway of their mind.

    It never came easy but I had to work myself through the process till when I started seeing a positive turn in my social life.

    The fear of speaking in public led to anxiety in me and arousing of my nervous system but to triumph in such a situation, what I usually do is to to find a way that you can conquer your fear and anxiety when addressing the way i do this is that, basically, I do not look at the face directly, I just look straight into the public not minding the audience’s look

    • Rod Taylor

      Thank you for your insightful comments.  As the causes of public speaking anxiety are many, your comments tell me that you are having success addressing them.  Thanks again.

  3. carlos

    Fear of public speaking is something that we need to overcome if we are to succeed in business,since it also applies to making promotional videos or conducting webcasts which are now common marketing requirements if we want to build our own brand.I agree with you that physiology matters the most but I have found that for me the fear of public speaking diminishes with practice, so I believe in rehearsing in front of a mirror before I face the audience. But as you point out public speaking is an art so joining public speaking groups helps sharpen our skills.Most important is that we know the subject we are presenting ,since this is paramount to our confidence in answering questions.Still, it takes courage.

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