Is Public Speaking Fear Good for You?

fear__180Fear of speaking may be something people escape by avoiding speaking in public. But it just may be that the fear can be beneficial. Sociologist Margee Kerr, author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, noticed a relationship between fear and laughter. After watching people go through a haunted house, she noted that their screams would turn to laughter. Fear is not a separate state as most people believe, but shares much with other states such as surprise, excitement, and joy. How this arousal state gets interpreted depends on context.

As for public speaking, one person may experience an adrenaline rush as putting them in a readiness state; another may experience sheer terror.  According to Kerr, people push themselves to feel the "...exhilaration, fear, and eventual satisfaction that comes once the threat has passed." Once the fight is over, this can result in a boost of confidence. She explains that the nature of fears are a product of time and place and that we respond to some threats faster than others.

While screams and laughter may be experienced similarly in the brain, most of us perceive these emotions as being very different. The good news is fear of public speaking can be managed and even conquered. Some of the public speaking fear remedies include: desensitization, breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation, and skills practice. Once you shift your mind set, you'll change the way you think about speaking in public.Your fear may haunt you, but don't try too hard to fight your speaking anxiety. That arousal state may just give you a natural high.