Is Glossaphobia Holding You Back?

Do you break out in a cold sweat just thinking about speaking in front of a group of people? Do you get a severe case of butter flys in your stomach everytime you are called upon to speak in class or at a business meeting? Does the thought of standing up in front of a group of any size may you nauseus. If they do, you are suffering from glossaphobia or speech anxiety, commonly referred to as the fear of publick speaking. Wait! Do not hang your head in shame and despair. The latest studies show that 75 percent of the population suffer from glossaphobia to one degree or another. As far as phobias go, glossaphobia made the top of the phobia list even out-ranking the fear of death and dying. Most people would rather face the risk of dying, than get up in front of a group of people and speak. The good news is that it is also one of the easiest phobias to overcome.

I have been a public speaker since the early 1960s. I have spoken hundreds of times, thousands of times, before groups varying in size from a half-dozen people to as many as several hundred people. Was I a natural born public speaker? Was I born with the gift of gab? Was I one of the lucky 25 percent of the population that was born immune to glossaphobia? Hell no! When I was in school, grade school and high school, just the thought of getting up in front of my peers to give an oral book report made me sick to my stomach. I still suffered from it when I enlisted in the United States Air Force. It was at that point that I knew I had to do something about my speech anxiety, and I had to do it fast. I took an evening college course in public communications. That taught me how to prepare a speech, but it did not domuch for my fear of public speaking. I bit the bullet and paid through the nose for a Dale Carnegy course being given on base. His course helped more than the college course did, but I still had too many butterflys to say that I was cured. That was when my squadron’s First Sergeant invited me to attend a Toastmasters meeting as his guest. The one thing that I feared the most about public speaking was speaking off the cuff, impromptu speaking, speaking with no preparation at all, and when I witnessed my first Table Topics session, I knew I had found the cure. I joined that very night and I have been affiliated with one TI club or another ever since.

In all fairness, there are many good organizations today that can help you overcome glossaphobia, but none of them provides you with as much bang for your buck. With Toastmasters International, your yearly dues, after the initial setup fee of $20, is only $84 per year.

Today we have over 13,500 clubs in 116 countries, with more than 280,000 members. We are sure to have a few clubs in your area. To fin a club near you, just click on this link and enter your zip code Visit several clubs before committing to one of them. Toastmasters Clubs have unique cultures, just like people and you need to find the one that is a good fit for you.

If you live in the Colorado Springs area, I would love to have you as a guest at my club, the Downtown Toastmasters, Club 5158. We meet in the Academy Room at City Hall every Friday between 12:05 and 1:05 PM.

Until next time.



2 thoughts on “Is Glossaphobia Holding You Back?

    1. thetoastmasterjerrywalch Post author

      Richard, the major study that I was referring to was done by the The Neuro-Linguistic Programming Institute of Washington, D.C. back 2010. The thing about that statistic is that all it states is that 75 percent of the population suffers from Glossophobia, it does not state to what degree they suffer from it. Glossophobia can vary from mild to severe. The major problem with all these studies are that they are quite subjective, the findings being based on what the subjects report feeling in a given situation. The one done by the Neuro-Linguistic Programming Institute used devices similar to the poly graph to measure physical response in a speaking situation. They really don’t mean much one way or the other because I know many professional speaker who experience sweaty palms before an important presentation and if their galvanic skin response was tested they would be shown to be experiencing speech anxiety but no one witnessing their presentation would know it. In almost fifty years of being associated with Toastmasters International clubs, I have met people with speech anxiety that ranged from mild to crippling but they all overcame it and went on to become proficient speakers. The fact that it is the easiest phobia to overcome also make it the hardest rate statistically.


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