What causes public speaking anxiety?

Hypnotherapy and Hypnobalancing™ in Berlin

Public speaking anxiety


When you know the causes of your speaking anxiety, it can be more easily resolved. Here are 12 common causes of speaking anxiety.

Fear of speaking


As a coach, I support my clients to present themselves and their messages compelling. As a therapist, I help people with fears and anxiety disorders. A common issue is stage fright. Often it goes beyond that and is speaking anxiety.




Speaking anxiety


Speaking anxiety is common. For many, it represents simply a fear of public speaking, which is also known as glossophobia. For some, it may be a fear of speaking at all in any kind of public situation, including when they’re out with their colleagues and friends.

When you get nervous while speaking, your mind will tend to cause significant negative self-talk, and therefore increase the likelihood that you see negative reactions in others. This is the direct result of living with anxiety, and it is something that you can improve if you treat it correctly.

It can be challenging to overcome speaking anxiety, specifically because it is so easy to avoid most situations where it is necessary.




What to do?


There are some steps that you can take to help make it easier. One of the first things that you can do is to understand some causes of your public speaking anxiety.




What causes speaking anxiety?


There are several reasons why a person may experience anxiety about public speaking. Before you learn how to manage it, it is helpful to realize what causes this type of anxiety.




1. Hyperarousal


Those who suffer from anxiety will experience a heightened state of arousal, which can leave them with an overwhelming sense of fear. This fear impacts their ability to feel comfortable in front of others, which makes public speaking a difficult task. There is a high likelihood that those who experience anxiety in other areas are more prone to be anxious about public speaking.




2. Traumatic experience


Traumatic experiences can have an impact. Public speaking anxiety is often a learned behavior. That is, at some point in the past you failed, and the seed of self-doubt was planted. If you know your content and how to deliver it, there’s no reason to doubt yourself. When you insist that it will happen again, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Plan to succeed instead.




3. Fear of being judged


When so many eyes look up at you, it may feel unpleasant. Anxious public speakers feel more visible, in the spotlight, and cannot get the instant reassurance or positive feedback that we are used to in conversation as the formal audience will often simply not feel entitled to react. This leads to inner dialogs and assumptions about what the audience thinks of you.




4. Inexperience with socializing


Speaking in front of others is something you can get used to. Most good public speakers I know are great socializers. If you struggle with socializing, then it is more likely that someone also struggles with public speaking. The more frequently we talk to others, the easier we may find it to speak in public.




5. Lack of experience


Just like how more socializing can make you feel more comfortable speaking in public, so can more experience with public speaking. The more experience you get with getting up in front of a crowd and talking, the more confident you will get in your abilities, which can lessen your anxiety about it. Becoming used to getting attention is very helpful.




6. Negative self-talk


Negative self-talk is an obstacle for those with public speaking fears. Many imagine worst-case scenarios. They may over-analyze what occurred when speaking publicly, trying to find all the ways they messed up. Everyone misspeaks sometimes, so you’re likely going to find something no matter what, and whatever you find is then used as proof that your speaking anxiety is warranted.




7. Poor preparation


It may sound absurd, but many people with a fear of public speaking also practice less than those without that fear. That’s because they experience anxiety while practicing and try very hard to avoid that anxiety. Unfortunately, that may cause them to be less prepared. And nothing else undermines public speaking confidence like being unprepared. But nothing gives you as much confidence as being ready. Your choice.




8. Poor breathing habits


Unless you’ve been trained as an actor or singer, you’re probably unaware of how to breathe for speech. Public speaking requires more air than usual. Also, you need to control your exhalation to sustain sound through the end of your message. Diaphragmatic breathing is the way to do all of this. It’s also helpful for calming your heart rate.




9. Lack of relationships


An underestimated part about public speaking is that overall confidence in yourself plays a role. Strong friendships make people more confident. It is good to feel fully supported by those around you.




10. Comparing with others


Inexperienced speakers often do self-sabotage before they have even started with their speech. They are too preoccupied with comparing themselves with others, which often leads to negative energy and self-image. Doing this in front of an audience is distracting at best.

Don’t compare yourself with others. You need your resources to be present. And you want to be the best version of yourself instead of a copy.




11. Perfectionism


Setting impossibly high standards for yourself will kill your public speaking. Instead, set realistic, high goals for yourself and work toward them. It helps to learn how to challenge the irrational beliefs that underlie perfectionist concerns by setting realistic goals, accepting failure as a learning opportunity, and forgiving ourselves when it isn’t completely perfect.




So what?


These are just a few examples. Many can cause the fear of speaking in front of others, like having to speak to a crowd of people with a higher status than you, such as experts or important persons. Or when having to present new ideas. Or when you know you are being judged based on your performance. Many factors can impact the intensity of anxiety you have about public speaking. When you know your causes, it will be easier to address them in therapy.




Overcoming speaking anxiety


It can be a bit of a challenge to overcome speaking anxiety, specifically because it is so easy to avoid most situations where it is necessary. More beneficial than avoiding is to get help to overcome your speaking anxiety. This way will change that nervous energy to a positive and thrive on stage. As a result, you will present yourself and your message convincingly.

Just ask me personally.


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Published: March 12, 2007
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: October 7, 2021
Translation: May 26, 2008
German version: https://www.noack-hypnose.de/redeangst-ursachen
AN: #1490
error: Copyright