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Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general.[1] The word glossophobia comes from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread. Many people only have this fear, while others may also have social phobia or social anxiety disorder.

Stage fright may be a symptom of glossophobia.[1]


Symptoms include:

The more specific symptoms of speech anxiety can be grouped into three categories: physical, verbal, and non-verbal. Physical symptoms result from the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) responding to the situation with a "fight-or-flight" reaction. Since the modus operandi, or method of operating, of the sympathetic system is all-or-nothing, adrenaline secretion produces a wide array of symptoms at once - all of which are supposed to enhance your ability to fight or escape a dangerous scenario. As Garcia-Lopez (2013) [3] has noted, these symptoms include acute hearing, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils, increased perspiration, increased oxygen intake, stiffening of neck/upper back muscles, and dry mouth. Some of these may be alleviated by drugs such as beta-blockers, which bind to the adrenaline receptors of the heart, for example. The verbal symptoms include, but are not limited to a tense voice, a quivering voice, and vocalized pauses—which tend to comfort anxious speakers. One form of speech anxiety is dysfunctional speech anxiety, in which the intensity of the fight-or-flight response prevents an individual from performing effectively.

Many people report stress-induced speech disorders which are only present during public speech. Some glossophobics have been able to dance, perform in public, or even to speak (such as in a play) or sing if they cannot see the audience, or if they feel that they are presenting a character or stage persona rather than themselves. Being able to blend in a group (as in a choir or band) can also alleviate some anxiety caused by glossophobia.

Estimated 75% of all people experience some degree of anxiety/nervousness when public speaking.[4] If untreated, public speaking anxiety (as other mental health problems) can cause serious detrimental effects on people in general, and undergraduate students in particular, as it may prevent them from accomplishing their educational goals. A recent study conducted by Garcia-Lopez, Diez-Bedmar and Almansa-Moreno (2013) have reported that previously trained students could act as trainess to other students and help them to improve their public speaking skills. [5]

Help and relief[edit]

Organizations, such as Australian Rostrum, Toastmasters International, POWERtalk International or Association of Speakers Clubs, and training courses in public speaking help reduce the fear to manageable levels. Self-help materials that address public speaking are among the best selling self-help topics.[citation needed] Some affected people have turned to certain types of drugs, typically beta blockers to temporarily treat their phobia.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fritscher, Lisa. "Glossophobia". Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Garcia-Lopez, L.J. (2013). anxiety disorder. Madrid: Piramide
  4. ^ Hamilton, C. (2008/2005). Communicating for Results, a Guide for Business and the Professions (eighth edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
  5. ^ Garcia-Lopez, L. J., Diez-Bedmar, M.B., & Almansa-, Moreno, J.M. (2013). From being a trainee to being a trainer:helping peers improve their public speaking skills. Journal of Psychodidactics, 18, 331-342.