It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to a group of five or an auditorium full of people. If you have glossophobia, more commonly known as the fear of public speaking, the thought alone is enough to drive you over the edge. Cold sweat, shaking hands, and quivering lips are sensations glossophobics know too well.
If you dread public speaking, know you’re not alone. In fact, it’s the number one phobia in the United States according to a statistical research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. Seventy-four percent of the US population listed it as their biggest fear. The fear of death only comes second. Can you believe that?
Although it’s not exactly a comforting thought, knowing that there are others who feel the same way might be the first step to overcoming that fear. Moreover, it’s neither weird nor unusual. If you want to control or get it out of your system, you can.
However, there’s no magic pill for curing the fear of public speaking. Not even Xanax will do the trick. Imagining your audience naked– one of the oldest, not to mention, kookiest piece of advice in public speaking– doesn’t work either.
So, what should you do?
Understand that phobias, not just glossophobia in particular, stem from fear. Fear is created by your mind. If you want to “cure” fear, then you have to assuage or calm your mind. Therefore, meditate.
To prove that this is true and effective, here’s a brief summary of a study conducted by the Brown University:
Fifty people who had previously suffered from depression were invited and asked to deliver impromptu speeches. Researchers measured the stress level of each participant before and after giving his speech. Afterwards, they divided the group into two. One group was subjected to mindful training (mindfulness meditation) over eight weeks. The other group was not.
After the eight-week period, both groups were invited and asked to deliver impromptu speeches once again. Just like before, the researchers measured the stress levels of the individuals before and after their speeches.
Their data showed that those who underwent mindfulness meditation for eight weeks had significantly lower stress levels compared with those who didn’t. In addition, they also recovered from stress faster than the others.
In a nutshell, meditation truly helps in overcoming the fear of public speaking. Mindfulness training teaches the mind to stay calm and clear during stressful situations. However, don’t forget that nothing beats preparedness when it comes to public speaking. Study your material and rehearse to make sure that words will keep on coming once you face your audience.