This was a speech written before explaining why we should not do speeches. Although it was more for fun in this context, some of the points mentioned are extremely valid and relevant to some, and helps to shed light on the difficulties with public speaking.


What are you afraid of? Whether from arachnophobia-the fear of spiders - to phobophobia - the fear of having a phobia, fear can come in many shapes and forms. But have you heard of glossophobia? This is social anxiety, the fear of public speaking which is estimated to affect approximately 75% of the population every 3 in 4 people. For those affected, speaking in front of a group could trigger feelings of discomfort and anxiety leading to uncontrollable trembling, sweating, and a racing heart. It can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic. You may also have an overwhelming urge to run out of the room or away from the situation that’s causing you stress. If untreated, this anxiety can lead to undesirable effects on one's quality of life, career goals and other areas as goals requiring public speaking might be left unaccomplished. The anxiety prevents an individual from attaining or pursuing a goal they might otherwise have. Why should public speaking be mandatory when it’s causing so much harm?


It is said that too much of anything is bad. Drink too much water, you have water poisoning. You spend too much money, you’re bankrupt. Drink too much alcohol, you become drunk. The point is that if there are too many speeches made, the speeches won’t be appreciated as much. People cherish things that they don’t get a lot. For example, if you hardly get sweets, and you suddenly get some, you are going to cherish it and savour it because when is another opportunity like this is going to come again. People would then ignore or lose interest in the ‘same old things’. The power of the words loses its impact unlike if the speeches are ‘rarer’. If there were Martin Luther Kings, Baraka Obamas everywhere, all making ‘legendary, life changing’ speeches, about their dreams, it would become the norm and would people listen? No, because it is not worth bothering if you are going to hear another one everywhere you go. It is not worth devoting your focus to every single one of them. The speeches would become as common as sky and potatoes, grass and Earth.

Too many speeches wouldn’t do any good to the world. Less is better.


But why are we scared of speaking out loud to a group of people? Fear is irrational. After all, what have spiders ever done to you? We have no reason to be scared of it. For most people, it isn’t the fear of speaking to people they are afraid of, but the fear of rejection and judgement that you are afraid of. Therefore, negative views about yourself that the audience are most likely oblivious to arises: What if I stumble? What do I do with my hands? They are looking at me funny as if I have done something wrong. Am I just rambling and boring them like I am right now? All these ‘what ifs’ trigger fear and anxiety and your fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival with a sudden discharge of hormones preparing the animal to fight or flee, shutting down functions not needed for survival and sharpening functions that’ll prove beneficial to survival. The response worked well back when humans had to fear enemy and wild animals attacks to simply survive but isn’t very effective or helpful in front of a crowd. As a speaker, you are now viewing the speaking event as a potential threat, like an enemy attack and as a result of the fight-or-flight response, you would start to sweat, to lower your body heat just in case you start to fight; your pupils would dilate to let more light in and improve sight the pupils dilate; you would get a dry mouth, as your body don’t see digesting food as a priority. All of these are adaptive bodily responses essentially designed to keep us alive, and because these responses are important to our survival, they occur quickly and without thought. They are automatic.

We are not made to do this. How can we do this when every time we speak, we perceive our audience as threats? Isn’t this damaging?

Needless to say, I believe that being a good public speaker can prove beneficial in advancing careers, forming strong connections and help promote and communicate ideas and move people to action on issues that affect them directly and society at large. That’s why students everywhere are expected to deliver presentations and speeches as part of their curriculum, preparing them for the real world. Public speaking is just simply a great life skill to have. And sometimes, you just have to deal with your fears, life would not always be smooth sailing and people have to get over their fears because it is life and you just have to grin and bear it.


However, it is said that “A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” Some people are just naturally loud or quiet. Some people can withstand the pressure of speaking in front of large crowds, some people react much differently, and cannot. Shouldn’t we think about people’s personalities? It is who they are as a human, and you can’t force it. Everyone is different. If everyone was all brought up to be extroverted and outspoken, where would the diversity be? Where would the different types of personalities, people, cultures be? It isn’t fair to expect that everybody would eventually be comfortable with public speaking as everyone is different. While avoiding the fear could make it worse, for some, facing the fear could also be just as bad. Known as ‘exposure therapy’, it doesn’t always help. One study at Stanford University in 2012 shows that for around 50% of people, exposure therapy actually exacerbates the fear. Constant fear can have extreme consequences and can impact the brain’s emotion regulation, causing one to be more likely to be exposed to certain mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD etc. Forcing the fear onto a person who has their own personality isn’t going to do them any good.


Overall, anxiety and fear are very helpful responses as it provides us with information in times of danger. They tell us when danger is present and they prepare us to act. The human race may not even exist if it were not for these hard-wired responses to danger and threat. However, anxiety and fear don’t only occur in situations where we are in immediate danger: it can occur anytime your body perceive something as a threat such as meeting a new person. We have fear and anxiety in these situations because of the way we evaluate these situations-something new, something different. Our body can’t always tell the difference between real and imagined threat. Therefore, when we interpret a situation as threatening, our body is going to respond as though that situation is dangerous and threatening, even if it really isn't in reality.


Students should not be forced into public speaking, speeches, presentations unless they want to because that is who they are. In reality, only some jobs require public speaking. It is good to push people forward but is it really worth the loss of identity? Losing the diversity in the world? It is in our nature to be –even the slightest- afraid of public speaking as it is in our blood. We can’t lose who we are for the sake of ‘success’ and fame in life. After all, the words will become worthless, useless, their impact eventually. And the words will have no meaning. Is it really worth it?


Whilst every care has been taken to assure that the information contained in this article is accurate, if there are unfortunately mistakes or insensitivities, please highlight it and it will be corrected as soon as possible.