Fear Of Public Speaking (Glossophobia)

Updated: July 23, 2022

A fear of public speaking, or ‘Glossophobia’ is a very common form of social anxiety, thought to impact almost 75% of the population.  For those affected, the idea of public speaking can fill them with anxiety and fear.

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What Is Glossophobia?

The term glossophobia comes from Greek. ‘Glossa’ means ‘tongue’ and ‘phobos’ means ‘fear’ or ‘dread’.  Thus glossophobia relates to speech anxiety and a fear of public speaking.  The thought of speaking in public can make some people feel nervous, however for those with glossophobia, or public speaking anxiety, it can result in the fight or flight response, creating uncomfortable physical symptoms and even panic in some.


Glossophobia is a common fear, thought to be more prevalent in females and younger people and is often seen in those who may have a fear of evaluation and embarrassment.


Those with glossophobia will often try to avoid situations in which they must speak in public.  Or if they are unable to avoid public speaking, they will go through with it but experience symptoms of anxiety or distress.  Not all with glossophobia have social anxiety disorder, but it often affects those with the disorder.

What Are The Symptoms?

Glossophobia causes various symptoms, including:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased perspiration
  • Mind goes blank
  • Dry mouth
  • Stiffening/tension in the upper back muscles
  • A feeling of panic or panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Shaky voice
  • Intense feeling of anxiety/fear
  • Face looks and feels flushed (red)

What Causes Glossophobia?

  • Phobias can seem to appear out of nowhere, but there are a number of variables that can contribute to the development of something like glossophobia.
  • Phobias normally begin in childhood or early adulthood and can be due to a combination of factors.  For example, genetic inheritance, or biological factors.
  • Environmental, and psychological factors can also be a contributor to glossophobia.  For instance, if someone has a fear of rejection or embarrassment due to their upbringing, this may manifest when having to speak publicly.
  • For some people, glossophobia might develop because of specific experiences that directly relate to public speaking, creating a negative association.  That is, if a person has had a bad experience during a public speech, they may fear a recurrence.
  • For example, some people like to be well prepared before a public speech and if they are placed on the spot, without advance preparation, they may flounder, and this could develop into a fear of public speaking.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

It’s highly possible to treat a fear of public speaking, so if you have glossophobia, we can help.  Our therapists will first aim to understand the nature of your fear.  This may mean we integrate therapies, for example, some depth work can help individuals gain insight into what it is that underpins their fear.


Alternatively, or alongside, we can use an exposure based treatment like cognitive behavioural therapy.  This offers the ability to learn anxiety management and coping skills, such that one is able to realise they are able to tolerate the fear provoking situation.  Depending on your needs, we may also suggest relaxation techniques alongside other treatment options.

What Causes Glossophobia?How Phinity Therapy Can Help


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