Glossophobia: Glossa in Greek means tongue, and phobia means fear or dread. So here you go, now you even have a technical term to brag about. And mind you, it is the number one phobia and accounts for a share of 19% of them all, even more than death, spiders, heights and confined places! The range of its symptoms stretches from sweating, stuttering and freezing to breathing difficulties, cramps, nausea and panic attacks.
If those sound or feel familiar, worry not, you are definitely not the only glossophobic out there. Statistics say that 3 out 4 people suffer from some sort of fear of speaking in public.
Yet, it is one of the most influence building skills out there, so what to do?
Here are a quick list of things that you can do fast to adjust and fight back:
Reality is, to no one’s surprise, the most important thing here is State Control. Neuroscience links state to behavior. And state itself is a full physiological and psychological experience that takes over thoughts, mood, bodily reactions and behaviors in general to an autopilot mode dictated by the state in question. If reversing the state is not possible, what we want to do is replace it by one that is more resourceful. The fastest way around that is to influence the internal conversation and its sensory experiences. What you want to do at this point is remember an experience during which you had the state you want (vs. the one in shock). This could be a real experience that you are bringing out from memory or one that you make up from scratch. For example, let’s say you want to be in a state of confidence. You remember a time when you felt confident, or you imagine how you would be when you are confident. The important thing at this point is to recall that experience in its fullest details: from what you were seeing, to what you were hearing, to the music in the background, to the colors of the memory, to the feelings involved and all that. Then you want to make that experience more vivid by exaggerating all and everyone of those sensory experiences. Let’s take colors for example, you want to make them as vivid and as vibrant as you can. Take a moment and try it out. This will have the effect that dancing song that you love has on you when you hear it.
The second thing you want to do is assist that resourceful sensory experience with physiological aids that will trick the brain into believing that it is true. Breathing is key at this point. Have you ever watched a deep sleeper breath? They do so from their belly. That’s what you want to imitate. And you want to do that while taking in as much air as you can and exhaling it slowly, almost at half the inhaling speed. This will calm you down and will get you back in control.
The third trick has to do with your posture. States have postures and the brain gets confused about which comes first and which leads to the other: the state or the posture. So when you’re depressed or not in a very good place, you might tend to look down, walk around with a slow pace, have the shoulders bent forward, the face looking sad and the voice inside you is deep and not very positive. On the other hand, when you’re confident and excited about something, you stand tall, shoulders upright, chin up, you walk with a kind of faster pace with a determined smile on your face and the voice inside you has a completely different pitch than the one you had in the previous example. So with the brain not knowing if the state gets your body into that physiology or if the physiology gets the brain into that state, you can trick it by adopting the physiology of the state you wish to be in. So, if you want to feel confident, act confident. To test that out, try adopting the physiology of the first example (non-resourceful state) and think about sad things and see how fast these rush into your head. Now shake it off and adopt the physiology of the second example (resourceful state) and try thinking about things that stress you out and experience for yourself how more difficult that will be. To many of my trainees, it is even impossible.
To sum up, three out of four of the people around you are glossophobic. If you’re one of those three, do what follows: