Glossophobia Fear of Public Speaking- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It’s perfectly normal for anyone to have the tummy going all mixed up and experience stage fright before a mass speaking activity. However, the nervousness subsides after a while, and they can face the mass. But, others are there who might be suffering from glossophobia.

Glossophobia has been derived from Greek word “glossa” meaning tongue. It is the intense and irrational fear of public speaking. A glossophobic person is unable to control the overwhelming nervousness, and may have a nervous breakdown whenever confronted with such mass speaking. The fear is not necessarily limited to bigger stage experiences, but may happen in a small classroom or even in front of mere few people. A glossophobic person tends to completely avoid such public speaking scenarios. This can leave the person’s both personal and professional life disturbed.

 Fear of Public Speaking- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What Causes Glossophobia?

Phobia can be caused by either a related trauma or an internal predisposition itself. The causes for glossophobia in people are:

A related Trauma

Glossophobia can be directly caused through a related trauma or distress. Almost all the glossophobic people are distressed about being embarrassed in front of mass, and being a failure while speaking. It can be resulting from any such previous distressful event that happened during speaking in public. Such incidents may not appear intense when it happened, but can cause a longer lasting fear that can take a form of phobia.

Genetic Factors

Glossophobia is more common in people who had a previous family history of such kind of fear or other phobias. The fearful character is in-built in the personality traits, and can be triggered quickly even by a small, unnoticeable incident.

The Symptoms of Glossophobia

Glossophobia may not be seen constantly in people. These symptoms may particularly appear when any public speaking event is happening or anticipated. Such symptoms are:

  • Intense dread and nervousness to appear in front of mass and perform public speaking
  • Constant thoughts and nightmare of having a public embarrassment during speaking
  • Muscle tension around neck and back around such public speaking environment
  • Weakened tone of voice and feeling energy less
  • Intense panic attack during a public speaking experience
  • Physical signs such as trembling, sweating and clammy hands, hot and cold flushes, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, dizziness or fainting, frequent urination, abdominal uneasiness and elevated heartbeat

When to Visit a doctor?

The fear of public speaking can create a huge blockade in the professional arena of a person. It can be successfully treated through effective therapies and medicines. If the above symptoms have been occurring over a time period of six months and visibly affected the everyday life of a person, one should visit a doctor.

How is Glossophobia Treated?

Glossophobia can be treated using a combination of psychotherapies and medicines.

Exposure therapy with Relaxation

Exposure therapies are seen as most effective treatment method for the fear of public speaking. The therapist guides through regular exposure sessions where the person will need to face public speaking settings. The therapist also teaches various relaxation methods such as muscle releasing exercise, mind visualization exercises and meditation to use during such exposure sessions. The person would eventually have tolerance for the fear and anxiety.


Brain chemicals such as Serotonin(a compound present in blood platelets and serum that constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter) help to regulate the mood level of a person. During phobic episodes, the mood level goes down. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines can help to adjust these type of brain chemicals.