Five Hidden Reasons People Fear Speaking and Presenting



You hear sometimes that public speaking is people’s # 1 fear . While death and lack of financial stability may rank higher, the fact is that many people get nervous at the idea of having to speak and present to groups or even one on one, whether it’s in person or virtually. But, have you ever considered what’s behind that fear?

Here are five rarely addressed factors that can make us nervous when speaking or presenting:


1. Personal Physiology

Some people simply tend to experience more anxiety than others. They are more nervous than others in various situations, including public speaking occasions. Some in this group are “afraid to be afraid”: they fear they will perform poorly because they will be afraid. This is often the beginning of a negative thought spiral and it must be broken.


2. Internal Dialogue

When it comes to speaking and presenting, almost everyone has a judgment about themselves. If that judgment sounds something like ‘I’m not good at speaking in front of a group” this will create fear. You are using your thoughts  to evaluate yourself as a speaker — and this often boils down to confirming your negative thoughts which may or may not be true. Coming from a place of fear, you inaccurately interpret signals from the audience as negative and you are not even aware of it!   In most cases, others truly want you to succeed with your presentation.


3. The Discomfort Zone

When we are asked to leave a comfort zone it will create discomfort at the beginning. We may lack experience speaking, dislike the idea of being evaluated, or worry about sharing new ideas or presenting to a new audience. Human beings like comfort zones. 


4. Lack of “Exercise”

When we learn a new skill, we are uncertain at the beginning — it’s that simple. The more you speak and present to groups, the more that uncertainty tends to face away.  The key is to adjust your internal dialogue and gain experience speaking and presenting.


5. The ultimate confrontation with our desire for other’s approval

We are all biologically programmed to be concerned with what others think of us. For thousands of years, we lived in tribes and the tribe’s opinion of you was crucial. Being excluded from the tribe could mean death. While our lives no longer depend on the judgment of others our brains still think they do.

If you dread speaking and presenting, welcome to the human race. These five factors are universal. But be encouraged, there are ways to overcome the fear and the rewards are huge. You’ll learn strategies to overcome this fear in the next blog post, so stay tuned.