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Raquel Umaa

Professor Saravia
LM-1352 Rhetoric 1
29 September 2015
Glossophobia: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
Glossophobia or, as commonly known, fear of public speaking, is one of the most
common phobias around the world. People that suffer from this phobia tend to freeze in front of
an audience, and it is not important if that audience is three or less people. Situations that
exemplifies this common phobia are a trembling voice while speaking, shaky hands, and in some
extreme cases, people tend to forget what they had to say. Sometimes, glossophobia not only
affects public speaking skills, but it also affects social skills; people that suffer from fear of
public speaking tend to have problems getting to know others, entering in a conversation, and
feeling comfortable around people. In her article Glossophobia: Fear of Public Speaking Lisa
Fritscher states that some experts estimate that as much as 75% of the population has some level
of anxiety regarding public speaking. (Glossophobia). As a matter of fact, students from
Modern Languages School from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) suffer from the same
problem. In fact, nervousness or fear is almost always present in students' presentations. For
some of these students, glossophobia does not affect their social development, but it definitely
affects their public speaking skills. With this in mind, students from Modern Languages School
(UCR) or others students around the world that suffer from glossophobia need to understand that
this problem cannot be solved right away, but there are some useful solutions or tips that can help
them to overcome this fear. In fact, three possible solutions that are going to help students to
avoid glossophobia while presenting a speech are previous preparation, enough practice and

getting to know the audience.

Initially, the first possible solution to bypass glossophobia is to have previous
preparation. In fact, Patricia Porter and Margaret Grant, experts in the matter, explain that being
well-prepared for a speech means choosing an interesting topic and having the material well
organized. For students from Modern Languages School (UCR) choosing an interesting topic
means that the topic is going to be interesting enough for them to maintain their attention on it
For example, if a student does not like horror movies, obviously he or she is not going to feel
comfortable doing the previous research or even planning how to present it. On the other hand, if
this student likes science fiction movies, he or she is going to do his or her greatest effort to plan
an interesting presentation that is going to fulfill all the expectations required from a formal
presentation. Not only will the student fulfill all the expectations required, but also this student
will decrease the feeling of nervousness as well because he or she is going to know the topic
perfectly. In fact, Porter and Grant state in their book Communicating Effectively in English:
Oral Communication for non-native Speakers that if you are not excited about your topic, you
can be sure that your audience won't be either (68). Also, as they mention in their book, having
the material well organized will demonstrate that the students spent enough time preparing their
speech. For example, if the student spends abundant time looking for plenty of sources to
develop the topic correctly, the presentation will look perfect. Not only will the presentation be
excellent, but also the student will feel comfortable knowing that he or she have sufficient
information to avoid feeling nervous or fear while standing in front of the audience. In other
words, when students prepare an interesting and well organized presentation, they tend to feel
less nervous or less fearful while presenting it.
The second possible solution in order to avoid glossophobia or is to have enough practice

before the actual moment. First, enough practice does not mean memorizing the entire speech or
learning by heart all the movements that the student needs to do throughout the presentation;
practice means that the student is going to spend some time rehearsing in order to know how to
look alert (Porter and Grant 14) during the speech. For instance, if a speaker is going to
explain to a certain audience a process or how to do something, it is clear that he or she is going
to name some steps, so it will be necessary that the speaker show some gestures. With this in
mind, if the student or the speaker learn all those movements step by step and he forgets one of
those, his mind is going to go haywire and he will forget everything that he knew. Also, this will
happen if the student learn or memorize the entire speech. In fact, one word forgotten and the
speaker will collapse in front of the audience. On the other hand, rehearsing will help students to
calculate if the time assigned for the speech will fit with the content prepare for the speech.
Concerning this, some students from Modern Languages School say that the time allowed for
preparing and presenting the information is insufficient. According to Porter and Grant, several
main points and supporting details need to be covered during that time, so the student should
choose a topic that can adequately fit within the allowed time. As well, if the speaker or the
student does not rehearse comprehensibility may be affected. For example, Porter and Grant
comment in their book that:
Your comprehensibility that is, how well your audience can understand what
you are saying depends partly on the voice control factors of rate, fluency,
volume, and intonation. Your comprehensibility also depends on your
pronunciation, that is, the way you articulate the sounds of English (19).
Not only will rehearsing help students' comprehensibility, but also it will help them to calm down
and to prevent nervousness in front of their audience.

Last but not least, the third possible solution to evade feeling nervous during the
presentation of a speech is to know the audience previously. Usually, people that suffer from
glossophobia say that one of the reasons why they feel scared is people looking at them while
they are presenting. As a matter of fact, they believe that people from the audience will judge
them for what they are saying, but what experts say is that there should not exist a why to feel
nervous because the speaker already did the required research, and undoubtedly the speaker
knows more than the audience. In their book Porter and Grant mention that If you are asked by
a group of people to give a speech on a specific topic, you can normally assume that your
audience already has an interest in what you have to say and that they recognize you as a person
having special knowledge of, or expertise about, the topic (32). Furthermore, if the speaker
knows the audience previously or the other way around the atmosphere during the presentation
will become lighter than usual. Moreover, if a student knows previously the audience, he or she
will feel more comfortable while talking in front of them even his or her fear will slightly
disappear. Additionally, if the student or speaker already knows the audience he or she is going to
choose an appropriate topic that will fit perfectly for them to hear. Porter and Grant remark that
All audiences become more involved when listening to a speech on a topic that they can relate
to (68). For example, if the speaker is going to present a speech to a group of children, it would
be better if he chooses a topic that will adjust to that kind of audience; for instance, an
appropriate topic for them would be how to build a snowman. On the other hand, if the audience
is going to be a group of mechanic engineers, an appropriate topic for them definitely would be
how to build a robot. Finally, if the audience previously knows the speaker or the person that is
going to present the topic, they will help the presenter with useful feedback related to delivery
and the election of the topic itself. Additionally, these advices will help the speaker or the student

to feel comfortable with the chosen topic and any kind of fear would be erase from his or her
As previously stated, glossophobia is an intense fear of public speaking, that not only
affects students but it also affects other people such famous people (Singers and actors). Some
famous people such as singer Adele and actor Amanda Seyfried suffer from this phobia. As a
matter of fact, they state that some of the inelegant situations that they have to go through
because this fear or stage fright are a dry mouth, a weak voice, a shaking body, and a thumbing
heart. In the same way, Barbara Fish expert in Counseling Services states that the fear
[Glossophobia] may happen in the classroom where the student prays that the teacher doesnt
call on him to answer a question (Counselling Services). Also she mentions that:
It [Glossophobia] can happen in the workplace where the manager experiences
panic attacks at the thought of making a presentation to her superiors. It can
happen at home where the jobseeker becomes emotionally distraught before going
on a job interview. It can happen at a party where the possibility of meeting
someone new is curtailed by butterflies in the stomach and sweaty palms. The
thought of speaking in public can leave us frozen with fear. It can also cause us to
miss out on many academic, social, and career opportunities (Counselling
Even though some of the symptoms that glossophobia or speech anxiety causes are intense
anxiety prior to the moment of the presentation or simply at the thought of having to verbally
communicate with any group or nausea and feelings of panic in such circumstances, sometimes
people are able to control it. Also, there are some institutions that can help students or speakers
with fear of public speaking, for example, Toastmasters International. Finally, for some students

is useless to try to hide their nervousness; this will only add more anxiety to the experience that is
already stressful. In fact, in some cases the best option for them is to know that they are capable
of giving a perfect speech and even more. Additionally, they need to embrace their nervousness or
glossophobia and try to benefit from that.

Works Cited
Fish, Barbara. Barbara Fish Counselling Services Helping your life work. Web. 26th Sept 2015
Fritscher, Lisa. Glossophobia, Fear of Public Speaking. 25th November, 2014.
Web. 20 Sept 2015
Porter, Patricia and Margaret Grant. Communicating Effectively in English: Oral Communication
for Non-Native Speakers. Massachusetts: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 1992. Print