Monday, March 2, 2015

Health Care and Fear of Public Speaking

Phobias exist in the psyche of almost everyone. Those deep dark fears that make you cringe or break out into a sweat, or even into hysteria if severe, are often very difficult to overcome. Psychologists have studied these mental issues for many years, and have concluded that whatever phobia you have that creates extreme fear is legitimate in its perception.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), fear is the normal response to a genuine danger. With phobias, the fear is either irrational or excessive. It is an abnormally fearful response to a danger that is imagined or is irrationally exaggerated.

People can develop phobic reactions to animals (e.g., spiders), activities (e.g., flying), or social situations (e.g., eating in public or simply being in a public environment). Phobias affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, and in every part of the world. Much more detail about phobias can be found at this website: http://www.psychiatry.org/phobias .

Phobias are emotional and physical reactions to feared objects or situations according to the APA. Symptoms of a phobia include the following:

·         Feelings of panic, dread, horror, or terror.
·         Recognition that the fear goes beyond normal boundaries and the actual threat of danger.
·         Reactions that are automatic and uncontrollable, practically taking over the person’s thoughts.
·         Rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, and an overwhelming desire to flee the situation—all the physical reactions associated with extreme fear.
·         Extreme measures taken to avoid the feared object or situation.

One very common phobia is the fear of public speaking, which can disrupt careers and lead to countless sleepless nights. Glossophobia, or speech anxiety, is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. The word glossophobia comes from the Greek word “glōssa”, meaning tongue, and “phobos”, fear or dread. Many people only have this fear, while others may also have social phobia or social anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of glossophobia can be grouped under three primary categories: physical, verbal, and non-verbal. Physical symptoms, the most overt one, include increased blood pressure and heart beats, increased sweating tendency, stiffening of neck and upper back muscles and dry mouth. Some organizations, such as Toastmasters International, and training courses in public speaking may help to reduce the fear to manageable levels. Self-help materials that address public speaking are among the best selling self-help topics. More information about glossophobia can be found  at this site: http://www.glossophobia.com/ .

Dr. David Carbonell, also known as the Anxiety Coach, says that you can solve the problem of public speaking anxiety. Fear of public speaking is the most common of all phobias. It's a form of performance anxiety in which a person becomes very concerned that he or she will look visibly anxious, maybe even have a panic attack while speaking.

Over time, people try to protect themselves by either avoiding public speaking or by struggling against speech anxiety. In this way, people get tricked into making the fear of public speaking more chronic and disruptive. Much more material about this subject can be found at this website: http://www.anxietycoach.com/fear-of-public-speaking.html .

Susan Adams, staff writer at Forbes Magazine, wrote that Jerry Seinfeld once joked that for most people, the fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death: “This means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Additionally, she goes on to report that for Jane Praeger, a New York City media and presentation coach, helping people overcome those fears is a critical part of her coaching. Praeger coaches corporate, non-profit and academic clients to make presentations on camera and in front of groups. She teaches in Columbia University’s graduate program in strategic communications, runs group trainings; and she also does a lot of work one-on-one, with people who are paralyzed by their fear of public speaking.

Praeger also is the founder and president of Ovid, Inc., a 20-year old strategic communications firm that specializes in speech, presentation, and media training. More about her company and her services can be found at this site: http://www.ovidinc.com/ .

Jane Praeger stands by the standard advice: know your material and the audience, practice your speech, check out the room in advance, do relaxation exercises like deep breathing, don’t apologize for being nervous. However, Praeger says the most important lesson she’s learned as a coach is that most people have no idea where their public speaking phobia comes from. And, once she does some detective work with her clients, she can uncover the source, get her client to see it, and usually make the fear evaporate.

In almost every case, the fear has nothing to do with the speaker’s ability to talk clearly and fluidly or even to feel comfortable in front of a group. It’s usually connected to some other fear or past wound--a parent’s disapproval, worry that colleagues will think you aren’t polished enough, or concern that you don’t have encyclopedic knowledge about your topic.

Sometimes, according to Jane Praeger, the fear stems from the fact that you don’t like your job, but haven’t yet grappled with that issue. Much more information on this topic can be found online at this site: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/03/07/why-public-speaking-scares-you-and-how-to-overcome-your-fears/ .

Now for the good news. Most people can reduce their anxiety of public speaking and increase their confidence by avoiding a few poor habits, while incorporating some helpful tips, according to Psychology Today. The following are five tips to reducing public speaking nervousness:

1.    Don’t Expect Perfection from Yourself
2.    Avoid Equating Public Speaking to Your Self-Worth
3.    Avoid Being Nervous About Your Nervousness
4.    Avoid Trying to Memorize Every Word
5.    Avoid Reading Word for Word

For more details on overcoming fear of public speaking, visit this website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201311/5-tips-reduce-the-fear-public-speaking .

Public speaking is definitely a way to generate fear, especially if you’re not prepared. However, by following a few simple techniques, you can learn to overcome it. If you are asked to make presentations in front of audiences, and you get the “heebie jeebies”, do what professionals do. And, remember, everyone, including professional speakers, get nervous. The difference is that they are able to control the nervousness, and the nervousness does not control them. Practice makes perfect.

Until next time.

1 comment:

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