Fear of speaking

I’m afraid. Afraid of talking to people. On the phone, in person, socially. The thought terrifies me. I put off talking to people, I don’t answer calls, I make excuses, I hide behind email and Skype.

I’m not sure when this started but it has got worse with time.
I find myself increasingly self-conscious of what I say: what will people think of what I say? what if I interrupt or talk over people? what if I say something inappropriate?

Bizarrely public speaking doesn’t frighten me at all. I’m in control, the conversation is one way. I can prepare. But interpersonal correspondence terrifies me. I think I am going to freeze, thoughts and words won’t come. So I avoid it. And hope for the best.

Am not sure how to solve this. Hopefully writing about it will help me start to think about it and address it. And just maybe some of you experience the same and want to share your experiences too.


Hi Cole,

I’m similar, i dislike groups where i might have to talk to people.. i avoid it. Although my main problem or ‘fear’ is public speaking. I have a wedding coming soon, and i have to do a speech. Just the thought makes me feel sick.

When I started out as a designer I didn’t like the client-interaction side. At all.

But I soon realised that phoning or emailing wasn’t a choice between the two. You email to get a confirmation and phone to create a conversation. Phoning or meeting I prefer. It’s informal and you can talk more openly. I’ve often probably sounded like an asshole by email but a reasonable human when speaking to someone.

I actually don’t like presenting in front of large groups, but people say I don’t show it. I need to push it more.

I have confidence in what I’m doing, and that always helps for me. If I didn’t know what I was talking about (and believed in it) I think it would be an issue.

I have a similar aversion to the telephone, to the point where I spend much more effort in circumventing the use of it, especially now that I live in a country where I don’t speak the native language. I like to try and remember that all six-billion of us are scruffy bags of imperfection, and that for the few things I’m excellent at, I have to pay with some things which I’m not so good at. That puts me a little more at ease with the fact that I am a bit of a bumbling idiot whenever I have a phone at my ear.