If you’re really anxious about giving a presentation at work, you’re not alone. Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) is a common phobia, and people who have social or generalised anxiety often struggle with the idea of addressing an audience.
How does the fear of public speaking affect people?
Like many phobias, the symptoms vary between individuals. Nausea, sweating, dry mouth, wet palms, shaking, blushing, panic attacks… It’s not surprising that people who experience this go to great lengths to avoid public speaking. In extreme cases, people even turn down promotions because their new role could involve giving presentations.
If the idea of addressing a group of colleagues or clients makes you feel anxious, don’t worry; there’s plenty we can do to overcome this. Let’s have a closer look at a couple of clients I’ve helped with this.
Overcoming glossophobia: case studies
I’ve recently worked with two (separate) clients who admitted to being natural introverts, and who needed to conquer their glossophobia. Coincidentally, both were solicitors; and that’s an interesting point. These clients were both qualified professionals with successful careers, and at first glance, don’t seem like people who would struggle with confidence or communication. However, anyone, whatever their career or background, can experience a fear of presenting.
Both solicitors needed to give presentations to their clients in order to progress to promotion. Their fear manifested itself in the ways you’d expect: shaking, cold sweats, feelings of panic, fear of the worst happening. So what could make two otherwise career-confident people feel like this?
Understanding the fear of public speaking
Our primitive responses are never that far from the surface. Once upon a time, our fight-or-flight response was there to protect us from sabre tooth tigers and other life-or-death threats. City-based solicitors are unlikely to be mauled by prehistoric beasts, however, our brain persists in trying to protect us by creating an instinct to flee.
The intellectual side of our brains tells us that a presentation isn’t a physical threat; however, the primitive brain keeps on predicting worst-case scenarios. We start to overthink the presentation. Stress hormones build. The idea of giving presentation becomes genuinely scary.
How solution focused hypnotherapy can help you give a presentation
With both these clients, we start out by understanding what causes the symptoms of glossophobia, and what can be done to minimise and even remove these. We then worked together over a number of sessions to find different perspectives on their anxieties, as well as coming up with practical coping strategies for presenting.
From wearing clothes that give you confidence to relaxation exercises, there are lots of things you can do to help lessen your anxiety. It’s surprising to hear that the always affable Sir Richard Branson doesn’t like public speaking. He uses various tried-and-tested tricks such as visualising a crowd of friends instead of an audience – and I can work with you to create your own presentation strategies.
Don’t let nerves get in the way of success.
I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My locations are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Contact me for a confidential chat and we can work together to help you give that presentation with confidence.