My Tragic Story of Glossophobia

When I was about 15 and on the speech team at Downers Grove North High School in Dupage County Illinois, I froze up during speech competition, and that is tragically how my glossophobia started to manifest.

Coach Donna Marie Johnson
4 min readJun 29, 2020

Photo by Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash

“Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking. The word glossophobia derives from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread. Some people have this specific phobia, while others may also have broader social phobia or social anxiety disorder.” ~ via Wikipedia


Yes, it’s pretty tragic that my fear actually first manifested on stage during competition. And the most tragic part was that my speech team coach (a new teacher that was filling in for the usual teacher) thought it was because I had a crush on him! That added insult to injury. He was an attractive young teacher, but my issues were mine alone and had nothing to do with him at all.

So fast forward decades, and now I have been a motivational speaker since 2014. How did that happen? Honestly, it only happened because I just kept doing it despite my fears.

Also, it happened because I am passionate about selflessly serving my audience. I have a fire in me that won’t leave me alone until I share it. Even though I could be playing Candy Crush on my phone and watching the primetime tv shows with my husband, I am writing this article.


What about you, is public speaking fear for you, too? What was your first experience with fear of public speaking? Did you overcome it? If so, how?


I have been meeting so many very interesting people since 2010 when I first began to support authors and speakers (by providing services like writing, editing, website support, and podcast interviews). I have learned that those who really serve selflessly are often like me: they don’t have to speak or write, but they do it because they care. This experience working with these beautiful individuals has continued to support me with coming out of my comfort…

Coach Donna Marie Johnson

Overcoming trauma as a black woman leader pursuing lofty goals. I support you to plant your seeds of transformation so you can Lead Like A Queen & go for it too