Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking): Are You Glossophobic?

If you want to be seen, stand up. If you want to be heard, speak up. If you want to be appreciated, shut up.

Bill Cosby

Glossophobia isn’t just another word in the dictionary. It is a word that means the fear of public speaking, it is the anxiety that comes with speaking in any situation even. The good news is, you are not alone. Millions of people all around the world have problems with speaking in public too and it can be fixed… if you try hard enough.

The word glossophobia comes from the Greek glōssa, meaning tongue, and phobos, fear or dread.

Public speaking is one of the most common fears of humans. Even though it might seem like some people have this special gift for speaking in public, the truth is no one was born a great speaker, people train themselves to become great public speakers. You would be surprised that if you ask your favorite public speaker if he used to have stage fright, his answer would most likely be yes.

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It is normal for a human being to be scared of people’s opinions of them. We don’t want to be seen as that guy that said the wrong things on stage and then becomes a meme, and so on and so forth. The truth is, everyone has their own insecurities. Some more intense and obvious in their character than others but we all do. When many of the great speakers you know today started out, they were terrified of standing in front of an audience full of strangers from all works of life.

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Winston Churchill for instance, was a terrible orator when he started out. Charles De Gaulle worked for years on his delivery before he finally honed his skills. Francois Mitterand failed his oral exams at the university because he has stage fright. One thing all of these people I have just mentioned have in common, is the fact that they all went one to be some of the greatest public speakers of our time.

The great speakers of the world did not regard Public speaking as a blessing of nature, but they cultivated their powers of expression through persistence and hard work. Demosthenes is considered to be the father of Public Speaking. His well-known oration” On the Crown,” is regarded as the oratorical masterpiece in all of history.

An inspiring story about Demosthenes tells us that at first, he had serious natural defects to overcome. His voice was weak, he stammered in his speech and was painfully shy due to the lack of confidence. He remedied these faults by earnest daily practice in speaking aloud on the seashore, with pebbles in the mouth, walking up and down the hill, while reciting, and deliberately seeking occasions for conversing with groups of people.

The famous Roman orator Cicero, whose eloquence was second only to that of Demosthenes, was a close student of the art of speaking. He was so intense and passionate by nature that he was obliged in his early career to spend two years in Greece, exercising in the gymnasium in order to restore his ill health.

Learning to speak is like playing the piano, not everyone can be a virtuoso, but everyone can have a certain level of proficiency. It is just a question of training.

Everyone who speaks well in public makes it look like its natural talent. It is the same thing with dancing, singing, cooking or any other art or skill can be made to look natural with hours of study and effort.

Ethos, pathos, logos

Written in the 4th century B.C. the Greek philosopher Aristotle compiled his thoughts on the art of rhetoric. Aristotle wrote down the secret to being a persuasive speaker, the secret which forms the basis for nearly every public speaking book written since then.

  • Ethos: credibility (or character) of the speaker
  • Pathos: emotional connection to the audience
  • Logos: logical argument

Together, they are the three persuasive appeals. In other words, these are the three essential qualities that your speech or presentation must have before your audience will accept your message.

Ethos or the ethical appeal means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character. An author would use ethos to show to his audience that he is a credible source and is worth listening to. Ethos is the Greek word for “character.” The word “ethic” is derived from ethos.

Before you can convince an audience to accept anything you say, they have to accept you as credible. Ethos is your level of credibility as perceived by your audience.

There are many aspects to building your credibility:

  • Does the audience respect you?
  • Does the audience believe you are of good character?
  • Does the audience believe you are generally trustworthy?
  • Does the audience believe you are an authority on this speech topic?

Pathos or emotional appeal means to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions. Speakers use pathos to invoke sympathy from an audience; to make the audience feel what the author wants them to feel. A common use of pathos would be to draw pity from an audience. Another use of pathos would be to inspire anger from an audience; perhaps in order to prompt action. Pathos is the Greek word for both “suffering” and “experience.”

The words empathy and pathetic are derived from pathos.

  • Do your words evoke feelings of love? … Sympathy? … Fear?
  • Do your visuals evoke feelings of compassion? … Envy?
  • Does your characterization of the competition evoke feelings of hate? Сontempt?

Similar topics:

Emotion Topics

Cite this page

Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking): Are You Glossophobic?. (2021, Aug 23). Retrieved from

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