Public Speaking

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” said Martin Luther King Jr. He was a man who honored his words, Martin was a great example of a person who knew how to encourage us, he never went to violence; only used the power of words to get his point across. Mr. King wanted to encourage us, that what was going on (during that time) was not okay.

He wanted to use his words to make the world a better place; but once peers, mentors or teachers force people, to talk aloud it is not right. There is a reason why quiet people are quiet. The fear of speaking in front of a crowd is called glossophobia. It affects 74% of people on this planet. When it is mandatory to speak out loud, some people rather go do dangerous things. They get stressed and have many different symptoms.

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Being forced to speak aloud when you don’t want to isn’t reasonable! The condition glossophobia affects everyone. Most people often get over their fear of public speaking as they grow older, but some people don’t. The condition goes away when you feel comfortable talking with people you know and don’t know. When growing up, people with glossophobia are considered shy. Statistics from shows that 74% of people on this planet have a severe case of glossophobia. With over 7,190,489,389 people living today, which means 97,168,789 people have a severe form of glossophobia. Studies from doctors and professors show that people with glossophobia would rather kill themselves than to speak in front of a group. I interviewed ten students who are considered shy, to see what they think. I asked the question, “What would you rather do instead of speaking a paragraph in front of the class” and “What would you rather do instead of reading an essay to the class?” (All participants would wish to be anonymous).

For the first question the responses were, “I’d rather get slapped in the face”, “I would rather go fall down the stairs” and “I would rather hit my face on the concrete the floor”. For the second question I got responses like, “I’d rather get stabbed in my arm with a big bladed knife”, “I would rather go on the metal ball slingshot ride at amusement parks”, “I’d rather go to jail”, “I’d rather have a water balloon dropped on me from the roof of the school”, “I’d rather get pelted with 100 dodge balls” and “I’d rather get sick with the flu”. After interviewing these students they all would rather do something that will hurt them instead of speaking in front of the class. Also studies show that when kids with glossophobia walk in a room or when they know that teachers are calling on random kids they usually say to himself in their head, “Hope the teacher does not call on me, I hope the teacher does not call on me!” It is really nerve-racking for people to speak aloud. When reading an article called “Why Introverts Should Not be Forced to Talk in Class” by Katherine Schultz, a teacher by the name of Jessica Lacey says that students should be required to speak in class. The author of the article, Schult, quickly said that she disagreed with what Lachey said.

Schultz says, “Some students are painfully shy and perhaps even introverts. …Sometimes a student’s silence protects her from ridicule or bullying…” Schultz was saying that being randomly called on to read anything from a sentence to an essay, in front the class, is wrong because it brings the fear of bullying into perspective.

Symptoms of glossophobia include: Shaking, dry mouth, racing heart, weakening voice, embarrassment, stutter, nausea, and panic. The symptoms varies in everyone based on how intense their fear of public speaking is. Quiet people are most often deep thinkers and need the time to think before giving an answer because they don’t want to risk the chance of saying something stupid. With saying something stupid they fear that they may be bullied. These symptoms get worse when the pressure of not messing up gets higher.

For some, the fear of being made fun of is unbearable and then they start to cry. Why don’t teachers put that into consideration when making kids talk? Why don’t teachers make a stable and trustworthy environment before forcing quiet kids to speak? Why don’t teachers just have all the shy people in the class read with each other, and all the outgoing kids talk to each other? Reading aloud should not be mandatory. From a sentence in a book to an essay you wrote. When it comes to public speaking, fear kicks in. For some people, they like that pressure but for many others it is overwhelming. People judge by: looks, accents, intelligent, opinions, well pretty much everything from physical traits, to mental and emotional traits.

Teachers say that it’s their duty to make us get over the fear of public speaking, but teachers don’t understand what some students are going through. Teachers should at least get us comfortable with certain people in groups before making us read something to the entire class. In small groups kids are more likely to know one another and feel comfortable saying “stupid” things around them. In small groups it gives the shy people the opportunity to come out of their comfort zone, and to state their opinion loud and clear. Once people with glossophobia get a stable trust going on with a few friends, they wouldn’t mind opening up their mind for the world to see.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” should really say “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can scar forever”. Words have the power to change the world, but being forced to say them, isn’t right.