Around 73% of the world population suffers from public speaking anxiety, also known as mic fright, stage fright, or - in severe cases - glossophobia. The fear of public speaking is considered a phobia when it goes beyond normal nervousness to being unrealistic or disruptive to the person’s life. Compared to other prevalent phobias like the fear of heights, spiders, flying, clowns, and tight spaces, glossophobia affects between 15-30% of people worldwide.
Public speaking anxiety and phobia often manifests in mental and physical symptoms. In addition to the repetitive and ruminating thoughts, people experience shaking, rapid heartbeat, sweating, blushing, nausea, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, and other physical displays of anxiety. Serious cases of mic fright can even lead to panic attacks. These fears can also affect a person’s communication skills and interpersonal relationships.
Anxiety doesn’t only strike at high-pressure speeches in front of an audience of hundreds. People who fear public speaking may feel anxious at things like work meetings, school presentations, even during a quick toast at a dinner with family and friends. With so many opportunities to strike, mic fright can become a stressor that impacts a person’s daily life.
How to Manage Public Speaking Stress
Nervousness around public speaking is like other forms of anxiety in that it can be alleviated in many cases with stress-relieving techniques and lifestyle changes. However, severe cases of public speaking anxiety - times when it disrupts daily activities - should be treated by a doctor or mental health professional.
Experts suggest a few different techniques to use in the moment (during or right before a public speaking event) and as daily activities to soothe stress overall:
- Prepare for events: Getting ready for planned public speaking events by practicing speeches, making notes, or rehearsing in front of an audience of family or friends can reduce the amount of stress on the day of.
- Use grounding strategies: Grounding techniques are helpful to use before, during, and after moments of anxiety. These include taking a walk, running your hands under cold water, or describing the visible surroundings to oneself.
- Try mindfulness-based relaxation techniques: Mindfulness is a proven strategy for managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. There are a variety of mindfulness activities, from meditation to breathing exercises and more.
- Explore the causes of anxiety: In many cases, understanding the causes of mic fright can help the person move past the fear. When you’re able to look at your perceived fear realistically, you may be better able to try positive self-talk.
- Understand and accept fear and reasonable expectations: Again, understanding fears can make them easier to manage. This can also apply to setting reasonable expectations, i.e., “I might stumble over my words, and that is okay.”
- Work with a therapist: Mental health professionals are trained to work with clients who experience fears, phobias, and anxiety. A therapist can help a patient develop strategies that work for them to control public speaking anxiety.
- Exercise daily: Exercise and other healthy lifestyle choices (avoiding substance use, maintaining a healthy diet, etc.) can regulate anxiety levels overall, which makes dealing with mic fright easier as it comes up.
What the Research Says About Cannabidiol & Mic Fright
In the past few years, researchers have conducted multiple studies on the potential anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing, capabilities of cannabidiol in cases of public speaking nervousness.
An older study from the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology of 24 volunteers aimed to test the effects of CBD on nervousness and stress when administered prior to a simulation public speaking test (SPST). Volunteers included 24 patients with generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD) who had never received treatment, compared to healthy control patients (HC). Researchers administered either 600mg of CBD or a placebo to the 24 volunteers 1.5 hours before the public speaking test. Their reaction was assessed at 6 different points during the SPST using the Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and Negative Self-Statement Scale (SSPS-N), as well as several physiological tests (heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductance response).
According to the study’s authors, the VAMS test showed that the volunteers who were given CBD had lower anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment compared to the control group. Similarly, the CBD group did not show the same increase in Negative Self-Statement Scale assessment that the placebo group did.
There was no significant difference between the healthy control patients and the CBD volunteers, demonstrating CBD’s potential effects on the stress felt from the simulation.
A second study out of the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry went even further into the amount of CBD that may have this effect on volunteers with a fear of public speaking. The double-blind study evaluated 3 different oral servings of CBD oil and one placebo in 57 healthy male subjects prior to a simulated public speaking test.
15 volunteers were given oral CBD servings of 150mg, 15 volunteers were given 300mg, 12 were given 600mg, and 15 were given the placebo.
In a similar format as the first study, the researchers evaluated the volunteers at six different points during the simulated public speaking test using the VAMS and physiological checks on blood pressure and heart rate.
Interestingly, this study found that volunteers who were given 300mg of CBD experienced significantly less anxiety during the test. In comparison, volunteers in the 150mg, 600mg, and placebo groups did not show major differences.
The authors of this study wrote that their findings correspond with other studies of CBD in animals. They also noted the importance of this study and future experimentation in finding the optimal serving of CBD for this purpose.
Mic fright is more than just having sweaty hands when you get onstage. It can make daily activities challenging or even impossible to complete, from excelling in academic classes to presenting at a business meeting to attending a social gathering. People living with public speaking stress or phobias have to manage intense physical and mental symptoms on a regular basis.
But with strategies like mindfulness, exercise, therapy, and preparation, it’s possible to alleviate the stress of public speaking in any scenario.
As research continues to grow on natural supports that may aid in increasing feelings of calm, even more strategies for managing mic fright become clear.
CBD products offer an all-natural option for anyone who wants to boost their feelings of relaxation, whether during stressful events like public speaking or as a daily addition.
You can find CBD oil products with Extreme-Bioavailability at Science-Rite CBD, all made with NANO CBD for the ultimate absorption power.
- National Social Anxiety Center: Public Speaking Anxiety
- Journal of Graduate Medical Education: Observations: Public Speaking Anxiety in Graduate Medical Education—A Matter of Interpersonal and Communication Skills?
- Columbia State: Public Speaking Anxiety
- University of Pittsburgh: Speech Anxiety
- Neuropsychopharmacology: Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients
- Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry: Cannabidiol Presents an Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve in a Simulated Public Speaking Test