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Some people suffer from all sorts of phobias, the more common ones are probably claustrophobia and arachnophobia and currently – getting more popular at the moment – is trypanophobia, the fear of needles. Only recently we discovered there is an actual phobia related to the fear of public speaking, called glossophobia.

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking is a very common phobia and one that is believed to affect up to 75% of the population on many different levels. Some individuals may feel slightly nervous at the very thought of public speaking, while others experience full-on panic and fear. Speakers usually recognise the feeling of intense anxiety and foreboding which can happen before or during Keynotes, work presentations or interviews. Physical reactions include increased blood pressure, perspiration, dry mouth (like you have a lump of cotton wool in there!) and a stiff upper body and an overall feeling of nausea.

Oration Speakers has worked with Speakers who have been quite ill before going onstage, but yet managed to overcome their fear and managed to pull off a full-on brilliant Keynote.

Like most phobias, once you put the work in combatting your fear, you can subsequently get over that fear. Below are a few suggestions we suggest you implement in advance of the next time you have an  opportunity to speak.


The saying ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail’ comes to mind here. In order to get (feign) confidence keep the following in mind.

A – Platform / technology  – Check out and become familiar with the platform you are using. Request a pre-conference tech test with the event organiser, know how to share slides, practise taking polls. If possible, when real live venues open up again, do a recce, (check out the venue in advance).

B – Topic – Know your topic, inside out, but most of all be passionate about it. If you are just talking about something that means nothing to you, the audience will notice. At least if you’re passionate about it you will feel less fearful.


Practice – Amanda Palmer delivered a TED talk in 2013 called ‘The Art of Asking’ you can view it here: – Even though she was already an accomplished performer she spent hundreds of hours, writing, re-writing, checking, reviewing her talk so much so that she wrote a blog about!

Don’t just “give” your complete presentation to a volunteer audience once. Do it several times with friends, family or anyone else you feel comfortable with. Look for constructive feedback and take it onboard. Recording yourself by video and watching yourself also helps look for any ‘tics’ ‘ums’ or ‘ahs’.


Pay attention to the ‘new’ exciting, material you have, that is why the audience wants to listen to you. Have you something different to offer that will make people think? People will be more enthralled by hearing something new as opposed to if do fluff up your lines! We have found that if you want to keep abreast of what’s out there to sign up for Think with Google, it will provide you with insights, ideas and inspiration for new content.


If you forget your lines, or you find there is cotton wool in your mouth and you stop, it really never is as long as you think. Take a few slow, deep breaths and proceed. Consider it a long pause……. and start again.


Stop self-sabotaging and thinking you are going to do a bad job. Enjoy the challenge! Public speaking isn’t easy but accept that is going to be difficult and keep working on it and think about the feeling of achievement after you’re finished!


Notice what you are saying to yourself and stop yourself in your tracks and Reset. Resetting helps to accept and embrace things that are out of our control instead of letting it take over. Instead, focus on all the successful things you have done in the past and how you can handle this speaking engagement.


Embrace any resistance you feel and implement positive thinking. The book The Power of Positive Thinking by Vincent Peale is definitely worth checking out. Using adversity as a strength and learning from your mistakes will help you grow a thick skin when it comes to speaking.


When you are doing a keynote speech solely because you enjoy it and get personal satisfaction from it, that’s intrinsic motivation, on the other hand when you are speaking because you are using it it to gain an external reward (or fee)  that’s extrinsic. Try and become deeply passionate about the topic you are speaking about.


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Need to say more?


According to Jack Canfield there are three things you should do to create action. The Rule of Five, Link Habits and Behaviours to an existing action and Track Your Progress

The Rule of Five – This rule dictates that every day you should take action on five specific things that will move you closer to your goal.  Canfield says, it doesn’t matter how small these things are, as long as they are action steps that will move you closer to this goal while moving you in the right direction.

In this case. Your goal is to get over our fear of public speaking. For example, if you’re a Speaker and you’re prepping for your next talk, below are five specific things you could be doing to help fight the fear

  • Find out what platform your sponsor is using and rehearse with it.
  • Understand the layout of the venue for the in person event.
  • Research the sponsor and background to the event
  • Find out the demographics of the audience
  • Find out if there are other Speakers speaking at the event.

2)  Link New Habits and Behaviours to an existing action, look for simple ways to link positive new habits and behaviours to the things you are already doing, e.g. if you are out walking listen to a podcast on the topic you are speaking about from an opposing viewpoint.

3)   Keep track of your activities and review your progress regularly. Ideally using a CRM system to keep a record of all your speaking engagements, areas where you need improvement and what you are doing to implement these improvements.

Recently we heard of a Speaker who fell on her way up to the Podium, every Speaker’s worst nightmare right?  actually yes, she was mortified, but she got up, dusted herself off, laughed and said it was part of the Keynote, the audience loved it, she got a round of applause of support.

One way to get over your fear of speaking!!

11 – Finally, if you are still fearful, you might want to get a Speaker Coach, one of our Speakers Richard Mulholland runs an excellent course on speaking. If you are interested in hearing more on that contact Oration Speakers