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Friday, July 22, 2011

6 Facts about Public Speaking Anxiety

When I was a child I was ultra shy. The middle child in my family, I developed the pattern of letting my older sister do the decision-making and my younger brother handle conversation.

That pattern made me comfortable yet did little to help me break away from the communication barriers I created. What this means is, I had problems entering conversation, getting to know people, making decisions and feeling confident around people. Later in life when encouraged to speak up at meetings or to groups, I suffered physical anxieties like diarhea triggers, focus issues, cold hands, and weak knees.

Researchers tell us that social phobias like public speaking anxiety start in childhood with shyness. If we don't address them, they progress through adulthood.

Can you relate? Chances are, you can. Lawyers - 58% are introverts - have high propensity to be able to relate. Their communication strengths are usually in the spoken word vs. the oral. Communication and social behaviors are often what holds them back.

Of the general public, less than 50% are introverts. Still, when it comes to phobias, research states that Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) remains #1 of all phobias. Public speaking and social anxiety, often used interchangeably, are experienced in our heads, our bodies and our behavior patterns. We compare ourselves to those who actually have the guts to stand up to address groups. I did for years.

The 16 years I was in public education I attended yearly continuing education seminars and trainings, paying more attention to the presenter than their material. Often my mind wandered to "Gosh, it would be so cool to be able to be that comfortable in front of an audience." I watched their styles, paid attention to their movement, their gestures, their way of relaxing into who they were with.

Fortunately I learned techniques to do the same. But it still amazes me to hear people's stories about fearing public speaking and then to read up on facts about public speaking anxiety. Consider the following 6 facts and how they relate to you.

6 Facts about Public Speaking Anxiety
1. Public Speaking remains the #1 phobia.
  1. Glossophobia - Public Speaking
  2. Necrophobia - Fear of Death
  3. Arachnophobia - Fear of Spiders
  4. Achluphobia - Fear of Darkness
  5. Acrophobia - Fear of Heights
2. Social phobias, regardless of which they are, begin with shyness in childhood. They progress when not addressed.

3. While fear of public speaking has negative effects on careers, it also influences success in life negatively when we do nothing about it.
I can't say I had the intelligence to do something about it in my case. I was fortunate. Someone I admired taught public speaking as well as theatre/drama. Once I immersed myself into those arts I discovered my shyness didn't need to hold me back. Yes, the butterflies remain, yet I understand they surface as often with excitement as with anxiety. When I feel them, I tell myself how exciting the moment I'm in is.

4. Three out of four individuals suffer from speech anxiety.
Yep, that's a whopping 75% of us. That includes extroverts. Take the following test to determine where you stand with speech anxiety.

5. Women and men are equally affected with public speaking anxiety.
Does this surprise you?

6. More men than women seek assistance with speaking anxiety.
My hope is the more women professionally develop themselves, this fact will change.

If you can relate to any of these facts, I encourage you to do something about it. Did you take the above test? Take the next step. Find some self-help. Books are the starter for discovering how you can begin thinking about yourself and gain motivation for actually tackling the phobia.Toastmasters is a wonderful way to meet great folks who, like you, are trying to tackle this anxiety. Are you a business builder? Then get more individualized help. Use a coach - especially one you enjoy being around. It will change your life.

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