Why am I afraid of public speaking? The number one cited fear above the fear of death is the fear of getting up in front of people and giving a speech. The fear of public speaking is the biggest fear that people have and this is crazy.
How can getting up in front of a group of people and speaking be more terrifying to people than the fear of death? It just doesn’t make sense. Why are you afraid of public speaking?
Let’s break this down.
Let’s nut this out. Let’s find out why you are afraid of public speaking because once we know why we can work on the how of overcoming that fear.
Is The Fear Of Public Speaking Innate?
Firstly I want to look at the innate fears, the fears that are in everyone, the fears that we’re born with.
The funny thing is that science has discovered there are only two innate fears in human beings and that’s the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling.
Now we’re born with these fears as children, but obviously over time these fears either disappear or change and I’m pretty confident that your fear of public speaking is not caused by your fear of loud noises or your fear of falling.
What is causing this fear? What is at the root of it? We need to understand the root of our fear in order to control it.
I’ve done some research on what the basic fears of human beings are. Although there’s some debate about whether everyone has these fears or not, these are definitely very common fears that we see throughout multiple cultures and multiple races.
The Fear Of The Unknown
Firstly will be the fear of the unknown and public speaking is a very unknown. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen and things could change. You don’t know how the audience is going to react and that fear of the unknown can really grab ahold of you and make you terrified.
I compiled some tips on preparing for the unknown if and when it occurs.
The Fear of Being Rejected
Obviously when you’re giving a public speech you’re putting yourself out in front of a group of people who will then have the opportunity to reject you, to reject what you say, to reject your speech entirely, or to close their ears to you and stop listening to you, which is a form of that rejection.
It is important to keep in mind why public speaking is important so you can push past this rejection.
The Fear of Being Embarrassed, Ridiculed or Shamed
Obviously getting up in front of a crowd you are the center of attention, so the opportunity for you to be embarrassed if you stuff up, ridiculed if you say something that people don’t like, or shamed if you completely embarrass yourself and make an awful mess of it. That’s a huge fear that you could have.
The Fear of Being Trapped
When you’re on stage the focus is on you and in a way you are trapped because you can’t just walk out of there because that would be awkward and then you’d have to face other fears, such as embarrassment and rejection.
In a way you are trapped on stage and you are required to complete your speech and that feeling of being trapped could definitely be one of your fears.
The Fear of Losing Control
This is why I think it’s really important for people to practice losing control in their speech. To practice interruptions that they didn’t expect and how they’re going to do that.
Losing control is a big one that we need to be aware of.
The Fear of Death
Now in our current society getting up and speaking in front of people probably isn’t going to lead to your death, so it’s not something that actually is at the forefront of our mind.
But if you trace our heritage back, getting up in front of people in the past could lead to death because you’re making a target of yourself as a leader, as someone with different ideas than other people and if people didn’t like that then they could kill you.
Here are some tips on what not to do during a speech so you can avoid your imminent death 😉
Why Are You Afraid of Public Speaking?
Again, let’s look through these fears and look through these fears in your own life and we need to break down.
It’s not the fear of public speaking; it’s a more basic fear. That might be fear of the unknown, the fear of being rejected, the fear of being embarrassed, ridiculed, or shamed, the fear of being trapped, the fear of losing control, or probably unlikely the fear of death.
We need to understand very importantly that we are not afraid of public speaking, we are afraid of these six things.
For each person it’s going to be different. The reasons that they’re going to be afraid of public speaking will be different. Your fear will be different to my fear will be different to Bob’s fear will be different to Jane’s fear.
Everyone has had different experiences during their lives and, as we could see, the only innate fears that we’re born with are fears of loud noises and the fears of falling. Obviously it’s not these fears that are driving our fear of public speaking.
It’s important to understand what your fear is and then once you know that, that’s when we can begin dealing with our fear of public speaking.