The fear of public speaking is called glossophobia, from the Greek glosso-, meaning tongue, and phobia, fear or dread. Glossophobia is more commonly known as stage fright. It is believed to be the single most common phobia, affecting as much as 75% of all people. When ranked among fears, it generally is the number one fear, even beating out death. In his stand up comedy routine, Jerry Seinfeld observed that in a funeral setting "the average person would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy." Glossophobia is considered a social phobia and may be linked to, or sometimes precede, a more severe anxiety disorder. more...
Symptoms include intense anxiety prior to, or simply at the thought of having to verbally communicate with any group, avoidance of events which focus the group's attention on individuals in attendance, and may even include physical distress, nausea, or feelings of panic in such circumstances. Many people report stress-induced speech disorders which are only present during public speech. Some glossophobics have been able to dance or perform in public as long as they do not have to speak, or even speak or sing as long as they cannot see the audience.
The root cause of glossophobia, although unknown, can be attributed to either a single tramautic incident, whether experienced personally or associated with someone who has, a slow build-up from merely avoiding public speaking to a more severe form of glossophobia.
Some organizations, such as Toastmasters International, and training courses in public speaking may help to reduce the fear to manageable levels. Self-help materials that address public speaking are among the best selling self-help topics.
Several musicians have the fear of publicly performing, including Barbra Streisand and Dusty Springfield.
Some affected people have turned to certain types of drugs, typically beta-blockers to temporarily treat their phobia. Alcohol is another common "cure", but more dangerous and not recommended.
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