Social Silence

Trapped-silent-blaming themselves, phobic speakers hide among us. Millions of people who are so afraid of public exposure that they invent the most bizarre excuses to avoid speaking in public. Accidents, dead relatives, illnesses, robberies, and playing hooky, serve to avoid the dreadful task. These people have a common despair yet do not know one another and have no idea that so many others suffer as they do. 

Many other groups come out, talking openly about their problems. People in Twelve Steps programs, for example, find support, and dignity by telling their stories. They have learned the healing power of sharing and do not avoid speaking out. However, those with public speaking phobia would be horrified by such an idea. They have a terrible need for secrecy. Memories of past denigration are so painful that they are paralyzed by shame. Avoiding the natural impulse to reach out, they do not ask for help. Embarrassed, they withdraw and remain silent. 

Donald, a workshop participant, introduced himself as a nuclear engineer. He mentioned that he had an identical twin brother. Donald’s fear of public speaking was so intense that he found himself literally hiding from his manager on the days of the month when summary presentations were made. Later, when I asked if his brother had the same problem, Donald said he did not know. So deep was his shame that he had never even shared his problem with his twin brother. 

This story is typical. To avoid public speaking, speech-phobic clients turn down jobs, promotions, invitations to chair meetings, to teach, to make a toast, even to accept an award. One CEO of a major corporation told me sadly that he had been invited to speak all over the world, but could never go. Another man faint when he was nominate for an Oscar, so terrible was his anxiety about standing up to receive his award in public. 

“I feel very damaged... like I have a major disadvantage when I stand in front of other people and have to speak. I am like a non-person.” - Arthur, Architect

For more tips and instructions, please purchase “TalkPower: The mind-body way to speak without fear” or attend our FINAL 2016 TalkPower Workshops on November 5&6 (if not satisfied, money back guaranteed). 

© 2000-2013 by Natalie H. Rogers