Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It is a common social anxiety disorder with symptoms ranging from mild nervousness to extreme distress or panic. Treatment methods and coping strategies can help people overcome glossophobia.

People with this condition may experience an overwhelming need to avoid the situation that is causing them stress, such as appearing on a stage or delivering a speech during a conference or a presentation.

Various treatment methods for glossophobia exist. One way is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), where someone works with a specialist to help identify and gradually conquer their fear.

This article will review glossophobia, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments. It will also explain how people can implement strategies to cope with glossophobia that may help overcome this social anxiety disorder.

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Doctors call the fear of public speaking glossophobia. It affects 15–30% of people worldwide, and about 10% of individuals with glossophobia report that their condition interferes with daily activities, including work and education.

Symptoms of glossophobia may include:

When speaking in public, glossophobia may also cause physical and emotional symptoms. These physical symptoms may include:

Glossophobia may cause emotional symptoms such as:

Glossophobia does not have to be a chronic condition. Treatment plans and coping strategies can help someone overcome this social anxiety disorder. Doctors can help recommend the most appropriate treatment for glossophobia.

Many reasons may trigger glossophobia. However, doctors do not know precisely why people experience the condition. Experts believe that multiple factors may contribute, including:

  • environmental
  • psychological
  • biological
  • genetics

Glossophobia is prevalent in stage performers, with 50–70% of professional musicians admitting to compromising their performances due to this fear.

A 2019 study found that many university students present glossophobia. The same study found that the students who felt more self-confident about their persuasive and communicative skills were less likely to develop public speaking anxiety.

There are different approaches that doctors may recommend to treat glossophobia. These may include:


CBT can benefit people wanting to overcome the fear of public speaking. Specialists help identify the root cause of the anxiety. This can empower people with glossophobia to work on their fears and gradually improve how they feel when speaking in front of others.

This therapy can introduce someone with glossophobia to new ways of thinking and help reshape negative thoughts they may typically experience before, after, or while attending a public speech. Additionally, CBT can help boost confidence and allow people to accept that they can make mistakes in front of an audience without judgment.

Learn more about CBT.

Virtual reality exposure training

A 2020 clinical trial introduced a new treatment method for glossophobia. During this trial, doctors used virtual reality (VR) to replicate public speaking scenarios for people with social anxiety.

The idea is that individuals could experience and overcome their fears in a controlled environment under specialist guidance. This trial found that using VR can be effective in helping those with glossophobia. Ultimately, using VR led to a significant decrease in social anxiety and its related symptoms.


If other treatment options are ineffective, doctors may prescribe medications to help treat and manage anxiety.

Medications for glossophobia may include:

  • Antidepressants: These can help manage stress levels and mood.
  • Beta-blockers: These medications can improve symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shaking, and blushing.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: These can help prevent or treat symptoms such as fear, worry, and panic.

Doctors may prescribe only one medication or a mix of different drugs. The choice of medications can depend on many factors, such as the severity or duration of symptoms.

Learn more about treatments for anxiety.

People with glossophobia can use some techniques to prepare for public speaking situations. These may help reduce anxiety and improve confidence before delivering a speech. They can include:

  • Practicing a speech: It may be beneficial to practice the speech before delivering it to a large crowd. Repeating the speech multiple times can also help refine what someone wants to say and manage pace and timing.
  • Breathing techniques: These techniques can include deep breathing exercises to induce relaxation and reduce stress levels. Also, taking a deep breath at appropriate times during a speech can help relax the diaphragm and reduce the stress that can build up during the performance.
  • Visualization techniques: People can try to visualize themselves giving a speech or a presentation well. This may help manage some of the fear that public speaking can cause.

Individuals can also remember that glossophobia is common and that audience members may encounter the same difficulties when speaking to the public.

Glossophobia is a social anxiety disorder where someone fears public speaking. It is a common condition, affecting 15–30% of people globally. Those with glossophobia may experience various symptoms, both physical or more psychological.

Health experts are yet to determine the exact causes of glossophobia. However, doctors think it may be a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and psychology. Glossophobia is not a chronic condition, and people can overcome it with appropriate treatment and other techniques to help them cope with anxiety and stress.