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Dry mouth, sweating, forgetting words – that’s Glossophobia, one of Brits’ biggest fears

Glossophobia, or speech anxiety, is the fear of public speaking, and it’s one of the most common everyday worries in the UK – affecting around 77% of Brits.

It’s an issue that will affect most of us at some point in our lives – whether speaking at a wedding, work event, or pitching to colleagues. 

Imagine standing up right now and reading this blog out loud to whoever’s in front of you. Do you feel dread in the pit of your stomach? Has your mouth suddenly gone dry and your hands clammy? That’s Glossophobia.

Using Google data, Buffalo 7 have compiled a ranked list of the UK’s biggest every day worries – with a fear of public speaking coming 8th overall. The UK also comes third in the world when it comes to searches around public speaking:

Glossophobia – Which country is the most worried about public speaking? 

Glossophobia.jpg

Overcoming Glossophobia: Buffalo 7’s Top Tips for Better Public Speaking

With the recent news regarding a measured return to normality, subject to Covid-rates, many of us are going to have to face our fears of public speaking come summer when weddings and regular office presentations resume. 

With that in mind, and to make sure you’re as confident as it can be when it comes to public speaking, presentation specialist James Robinson offers his top tips for tackling Glossophobia once and for all:

  • Get the Tools You Need
    “One way to feel more confident with public speaking is to have the right tools for the job. A great presentation can go a long way to making you look and feel like an expert. Dazzle your audience with some beautiful data visualisations and let your imagery do the heavy lifting for you!” 
  • Know Your Subject
    “Knowing your subject inside out and completely is a great way to banish public speaking nerves. Fear often comes down to a lack of confidence – what if I get a tough question, what if someone in the audience thinks I’m talking nonsense? Push past these thoughts. You’re talking. You’re the expert.”
  • Speak from Memory and Don’t Panic
    “Try speaking from memory as much as you can – use a few prepared cues to remind you of the key themes and perhaps any important facts and figures. This approach makes you seem more composed, natural and professional to your audience, and will really help to build your public speaking skills. If you lose your place, or forget where you are, don’t panic. Take a breath, refer to your notes and start again. Pauses are perfectly natural in the way we speak, and help to let each point sink in.”
  • Know Where to Focus
    “Now, where to look? Scanning your eyes from left to right and back again works best for some people – every member of the audience feels as though you’re speaking directly to them, which really helps with engagement. Some people find this hard, so try to pick out a friendly face, or just focus on a spot on the back wall. If it helps to pretend that you’re just talking to one person, then it’s fine to do that, too.”
  • Get into Your Rhythm
    “Deep breaths, pauses between sentences, and longer between different themes. Some people find it useful to count to two between each sentence to keep a steady rhythm going. And while we’re on the subject, don’t forget to smile! Putting a smile on your face can help to put your audience at ease, which helps them listen to what you’re saying.” 
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Move
    “And that, in turn, helps you to relax and give a better speech. Don’t be afraid to move around, either. Own that space: make use of your hands when presenting, walk around and change direction to add energy and passion to your words. Add some personality, and try to enjoy yourself: your audience will appreciate it and reciprocate the feeling.”
  • Remember – being nervous is normal! But be entertaining
    “It’s OK to be nervous. Everyone is: some people can just hide it better than others. What’s important is how well you engage with your audience. The simple fact is that they want entertaining. No matter how interesting your subject, if you keep your head down and mumble through a full script word for word, they could end up getting bored.”

If your public speaking anxiety extends to online, you might want to check out these facts on Zoom Anxiety here

Main pic: @marcosjluiz

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Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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