Imagine yourself as a child. You’re at school, sitting in your desk at the back of the classroom. But today you won’t go unnoticed – you have to give a short speech in front of the class. You’ve prepared something, but you’re nervous: your palms are sweating and you can’t seem to catch your breath. You don’t want the teacher to call on you, but she does. You can’t seem to see straight or think clearly as you walk to the front of the class, and when you get there, you feel paralyzed. You open your mouth to speak but nothing comes out.
Speaking in front of others can be nerve-wracking for a child. In fact, most kids have difficulty articulating before a group of peers. With practice, though, most people are able to fully overcome their public speaking anxiety and go on to feel at ease talking in front of a group.
Unfortunately there are some who never “grow out” of this affliction. The above scenario still reads like a bad dream. An increase in perspiration, heart palpitations, dryness of mouth, and dizziness are all common physiological symptoms of a fear of public speaking. Mentally, the experience can be draining. Most often it is associated with feelings of mental block, as though you can’t come up with anything to say regardless of how much you may have practiced what you were going to say.
Does this sound familiar?
If you answered yes, you might be affected by a social anxiety disorder. You may find that self-help strategies such as rehearsing in front of a mirror or saying positive affirmations on a regular basis are enough to ease your symptoms. But if you’ve tried these techniques and are still struggling with disabling anxiety related to speech-giving, you may need professional help as well. Don’t worry – you have a lot of options! You can overcome your fear through therapy.