The first thing I was thinking when I saw that word (Glossophobia) is what in the world does it mean!? Well, the word represents something that most people around the world fear more than death, public speaking. “As many as 75%  of people have Glossophobia. Statistically, far more of us claim that we would prefer death to giving a speech; even comedian Jerry Seinfeld used to joke that at a funeral, most people would rather be lying in the casket than delivering the eulogy” (Glossophobia.com).

This summer, I was required to take a Communications class for school. Many people told me I would have no problem with public speaking, but the butterflies in my stomach were telling me otherwise. In order to pass the class, we had to prepare three speeches, one with a group and two flying solo. Yes, I was rather nervous in the beginning. Yes, I had been dreading the thought of taking this class. And yes, I had Glossophobia, but by the end of the semester, my attitude began to change. I had been equipped with a toolbox of thoughts that changed my outlook on communication. My professor provided our class with many valuable notes that I want to share with you in my upcoming series. By the end, my goal is that readers will be ready to challenge their Glossophobia and be successful in the realm of public speaking and communication!

My professor started our first day of class by challenging us to define communication. When everyone shared their definitions, we all had multiple ideas about this one simple word. In a way, that is what he was attempting to show us. This one word is used by people every day, but everyone has their own unique way of expressing its meaning. He then provided us with seven characteristics to give us an image of communication…

1. Communication is constantly occurring

2. Communication is constantly changing

3. Communication usually involves an exchange

4. Communication involves a relationship

5. Communication is heavily influenced by culture and co-culture

  • Culture:  attitude, beliefs, and values of a group of people
  • Co-culture: a group within a culture that has attitudes, beliefs, and values that are different from the larger culture (Gender, race, Midwestern, etc.)

6. Communication is power

7. Communication is a process

We will dive deeper into these ideas later in the series. For this first post, I want to discuss characteristic number seven. Communication is a process because it usually involves both a sender and a receiver. In a nutshell, this is what occurs between a sender and receiver during communication:

Sender encodes a message, delivers it through a channel, message goes through barriers, receiver decodes the message, receiver encodes feedback, delivers feedback through a channel, feedback goes through barriers, sender decodes feedback (all of which takes place within a situation).

Even though the above definition may seem complex, it does not even begin to dive into all the variables that both the sender and receiver express! Within the structure of communication exists verbal and non-verbal cues, proxemics, kinesics, paralanguage, haptics, and chronemics that all add meaning to the message being conveyed. Have no fear because I will explain these variables and how they can add meaning to your message in upcoming posts. In the future, we will also be discussing the structure of your speech, delivery of your speech, and tackling what some people fear more than death, communication anxiety, also known as Glossophobia.

As for today, I hope I have expanded your horizons on the meaning of communication. I want to leave you with a question to ponder that my professor also shared with us:  Can one not not communicate? (OR–are we always communicating? Are there times when we are not communicating?)

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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