Let’s set the scene. You’re at the all company meeting, with hundreds of your co-workers, in a conference room designed for far fewer. It’s hot, and getting hotter. The Grand Poohbah is droning on about innovation and synergies and stakeholder value and other popular business school platitudes, as he leads the cheering for another quarter gone by. Your mind is drifting, and the sounds in the room gradually meld into a single polyphonic hum, your gaze fixed on a bit of lint on the carpet between your feet.
Suddenly, cutting through the buzz, you hear the Grand Poohbah say, “And now, I’d like to ask rudyblues to come up and give us a run down on the project.” What! You’re snapped instantly from your reverie, unsure whether you actually heard this, or if your mind is perhaps playing tricks on you as punishment for daydreaming.
But as the people around you begin to make room for you to pass, you realize that, yes, you did just hear the Grand Poohbah introduce you for an impromptu report on your latest project. Thanks for throwing me under the bus, you rat! You could have given me a heads up this morning when I saw you at the coffee pot. But no, you decide to just up and call me out!
Lucky for me, I work well on my feet. I was able to do 10 minutes or so and not lose too much of the crowd. But some of us in that situation would suffer from at least some of the symptoms of glossophobia, or literally, tongue (the Greek glōssa) fear (the Greek phobos). Symptoms can range from a mild anxiety and sweaty palms through a full-on panic attack. I’ve read estimates that up to 75% of the population has some degree of glossophobia, and that some people would choose death over public speaking.
That seems a bit extreme. I guess sometimes it’s just good to be a peacock.
Image courtesy of Deutsche FotothekImage Courtesy of IIIIIIIImage142