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Glossophobia: Symptoms and Treatment

By Diego Nascimento

Phobia is a feminine noun originating from the Greek “fobos” which means fear, aversion or repulsion and is present in something very common among people:  the fear of public speaking. The technical word for this discomfort is Glossophobia. Some studies that began in the 1990s show that more than 50% of the population manifests a complete panic when having to present a work, project or even a simple speech. Since then research has continued, but it is easy to see that within five meters of where we are we will find people like that.

I graduated in Social Communications and have given several trainings on Oratory. The best part of all this is to observe the reaction of the audience when I tell about my profound shyness; the apex was in adolescence, and I suffered a lot with this situation. Dry mouth, reddened face, weak voice, excessive sweating, and fear of judgment were some of the symptoms that came within seconds. I already know: you also have these kind of stories to share, right? All this context is not only linked to lack of training. The behavioral psychology itself has given us discoveries that attest to the bridge between emotion and experiences lived in childhood, youth, and adult life. I confess that the subject is vast and, perhaps, we can continue it at another time. Before going I want to offer each reader some tips for beginning a treatment in the medium and long term:

• Recognize your limits and ask for help to overcome them;
• Be sympathetic at the beginning and end of the presentation;
• Never agree to talk about something you do not know;
• Study, study and study the material you will present;
• Rehearse your presentation. As time passes this procedure will no longer be necessary;
• Avoid focusing directly on the eyes of the audience (unless you have the freedom to do so);
• Beware of slides: excessive texts and images are tiring for an audience;
• Manage the time: Do not talk too much and “talk too little”;
• Wear light clothing and comfortable shoes;
• Speak slowly and with the same tone of voice;
• Take risks: crying about it will not help anything.

Throughout my training I divide the tasks between theoretical and practical content. Seeing changes (for the better) happen is gratifying and shows that, with effort, a considerable portion of dreams can be achieved. Even if you are not a professional speaker, be aware that your student, social, and work day-to-day lives require leadership action, and so becoming a good speaker is an important ingredient for good results.

Scientist Isaac Newton once said, “What we know is a drop; what we ignore is an ocean.”  I think it’s good to start getting wet!
Until the next article.


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