Why does public speaking make your stomach turn?
Hate public speaking? Turns out there may be a way to fix it with virtual reality.
You are not alone
From when I started public speaking in school, it always gave me anxiety. I’ve had people tell me to imagine the audience in their underwear. That never worked for me.
I wear reading glasses and during one of my presentations, I wore my glasses the whole time to avoid seeing people’s faces in the audience. It helped my anxiety but it gave me a headache.
If you’re like me, the individual presentation for this subject made your stomach somersault.
Glossophobia—what is it?
There’s a term for the fear of public speaking: it’s called glossophobia. People who experience it can experience different symptoms when public speaking.
In my case, I start speaking quickly and try to look in the center of the room, not making eye contact with people. I also have avoided doing subjects in University because they have individual presentations and have had panic attacks at the thought of public speaking.
Why does it happen?
It is a common fear, and it is estimated that 75% of people have glossophobia. There can be a few causes, such as environmental, genetic and social factors, and people who have glossophobia can be fearful of rejection or embarrassment.
A lot of people who experience glossophobia do not experience anxiety in other social situations. For example, I do not get fearful when meeting new people; I find it to be a pleasant experience.
Can virtual reality help?
It may seem like public speaking fears can’t be overcome. I didn’t think mine would ever get better. But there may be a way to fix that.
Cerevum’s Speech Center VR is a solution to public speaking anxiety. It allows users to make their own avatar and give practice speeches in virtual reality scenarios with other avatars in the audience. Some of these practice situations include classrooms, lecture theatres and business meetings.
A unique feature of Speech Center VR is being able to prepare for unexpected situations including how an audience behaves and noise in the audience. It is only available for Samsung Gear and Google Play but the company hopes to release it for other devices soon.
Evidence for the power of virtual reality
As these technologies continue to develop, they may provide more help for people. I want to try to use virtual reality to help with my public speaking anxiety. I hope it works for you.
For more reading on Virtual reality exposure therapy: