A natural fear of public speaking?

By Priscilla Shum, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School
By Priscilla Shum, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School |

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Recently, I have found that some people are terrified of public speaking. It is strange that communicating, something that is so inherently part of our social nature, could become such a source of anxiety later in life.

Some say that people are born afraid of public speaking. I don’t think this is true. Rather, I think this fear develops over time. Public speaking is a learned skill that can be improved through practice and preparation.

Parents can influence whether their child is afraid of public speaking. According to psychologists, if a child’s natural tendency to talk and ask questions is repeatedly stifled by busy, irritable or emotionally unavailable parents, these children may lose confidence.

Priscilla Shum, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your email, Priscilla. I’m sure many of our readers feel the same. I know that I go through phases of enjoying and then hating and then enjoying public speaking. It very much depends on the circumstances of the speech.

You’re right that humans can learn to fear things, and what happens to us in our childhood can have a lasting effect, until we understand why and get some help. So people use all sorts of ways to get over their fear.

A very clever psychologist by the name of Victor Frank found a good way to teach peole to get over their fears was to get them to make fun of themselves. Or he would ask them to try to make the mistakes they feared most. When the time came, most of them found that they couldn’t do it, and were able to get over their fear.

Susan, Editor