Although there is no definitive evidence to say that any one person’s fear (any fear) has a single root cause, there are factors that you can point to that could shed light on why some people fear certain things while others don’t. For example, most people who fear the dentist (even a simple cleaning) could trace the cause back to a specific incident in their childhood where there was a traumatic experience at the dentist. For these people, there was a single (or few) specific incident that left a lasting impression on them. For them, methods like relaxation dentistry can help (see http://www.danversdentalwellness.com for more info on relaxation dentistry).
The fear of public speaking is one of these fears that can have several roots that, over time, can create this intense phobia. There may not be a specific incident that traumatized them. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have specific incidents that you can remember being afraid to speak. The majority of people who have an intense fear of public speaking may have one or more of the following:
- Lack of self confidence
- Fear of failure
- Extreme shyness
- Fear of judgment
- Belief that you have nothing of value to say or that no one will care what you have to say
These factors, plus a lifetime of worry and panic about these situations, can be the recipe for the root of most people’s fear. Without knowing how to start to overcome your fear, you will most likely never overcome this fear and may even get worse over time. There are no simple solutions to overcoming the fear of public speaking. However, YOU CAN CHANGE! Let me repeat that: YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND TO CONQUER YOUR FEAR! The trick is knowing where to start and knowing what will work for you.
For some, immersion therapy works the best. This is a “jump in the deep end” style of therapy. You would force yourself to be in situations where you had to talk in front of a crowd. You could volunteer to give a presentation at work or school. You could simply stand up in a crowd and start talking. Although this does work for some, it can be too nerve racking to others. I suggest another approach.
I subscribe to the “stick your toe in the water” method. This is where you would gradually start to talk to people and then eventually put yourself in situations where you would be alone in front of a crowd.
You could start with talking to strangers on the street, in a store, or in your everyday life. Start a conversation with the checkout clerk at the store. Simply ask “How are you today?” It doesn’t matter what they say, the point is that you started a conversation with a total stranger.
From there, you could talk to someone you don’t know in the cafeteria at work or school. You’d be surprised how many people respond to a complement: “Hi. I really like your (fill in the blank).” This could even lead to a conversation about the item you mentioned. Eventually you may be able to talk in a class or at a meeting simply by volunteering to answer a question.
As you can see, you would gradually move your way up to the point where you could get in front of a crowd to speak. It’s still going to take time, practice, and repeated effort. However, you will find that it gets easier to do the more you do it. Keep up the practice and speak well.