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Fear of Public Speaking

fear of public speaking

Referring to the number one fear of American adults, a comic quipped “Given that fear of public speaking is the most common phobia, the person giving the eulogy would rather be the deceased” And you can’t blame them.

The anxiety associated with fear of public speaking can be crippling. Symptoms can develop with the mere anticipation of an upcoming meeting or presentation, even weeks before the dreaded event. The range of reactions include palpitations, racing heart, sweating, shaking, throat constriction, nausea or abdominal distress, trembling, dry mouth, clammy hands, thought blocking and insomnia.

Many fearful public speakers have had a deeply embarrassing experience while either appearing before an audience, giving a talk, introducing themselves or being singled out for ridicule when young. The lingering effects of this event, that sense of humiliation and dread of its repetition drives the fear and avoidance response.

The memory of these experiences hijacks them Anticipating fear, embarrassment or a loss of control, incline the fearful speaker to vividly imagine this scenario repeatedly, thereby orientating toward and reinforcing this outcome in their mind. Believing their thoughts to be real, the anxious speaker responds to them as if they are predictive, fearing his or her fear all the more. Fearful fliers go through the same cycle. Fortunately there are therapeutic interventions that I can apply to swiftly resolve this pattern.

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