I could assume that you, as somebody who wants to be a marriage celebrant, doesn’t suffer from a fear of public speaking but that’s not an assumption I’m willing to make. You may tick all the right boxes and love the idea of performing marriages, renewal ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies and more and still have that one hang up. If you do that’s okay. You’re not alone. If you don’t have any issues whatsoever and are in the minority, feel free to skip to the next chapter. Otherwise, read on!

Firstly, let’s consider that word “public”. It’s the one we trip up on. It’s often that hyper-focus on “public” that gets people nervous. In truth it’s the second word in the title that should be the primary focus – “speaker”. If you can carry a conversation with a couple of people and keep it interesting, you have the ability to speak well publicly. If you can speak with a couple who are marrying, parents deciding to celebrate with a baby naming ceremony or a grieving family member organising a funeral, you can be a great public speaker.

So why do many of us find public speaking to be so panic-inducing? Is there any truth that more people fear public speaking over death?

Who can really say? Many will claim to fear public speaking over death but if it really came down to one or the other? I doubt that’s ever been tested.

There is however a phobia that limits or completely disables many from speaking publicly. It’s called glossophobia – from the Greek γλῶσσα glossa (tongue) and φόβος phobos (fear or dread).

Glossophobia – glä-sō-ˈfō-bē-ə

fear of public speaking

By some estimates glossophobia affects over 75% of people from all walks of life! The levels of intensity vary and for many the situation and affinity with the audience determines that level but the bottom line is, it’s a common condition to be anxious about speaking publicly. So if you’re in that 75% you’re in good company. Recognizing that you’re not alone in experiencing this fear is the first step toward overcoming it.


Would you believe that Julia Roberts had a fear of public speaking? This was in part because of being a stutterer as a child but if you ever had a chance to watch her memorable acceptance speech upon winning the Best Actress Oscar for “Erin Brockovich” you might find it hard to believe.

Mr. Indiana Jones and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, one of the world’s great “blockbuster” actors, calls public speaking “a mixed bag of terror and anxiety.” Yip! He hates it.


In November of 1863, the US President, Abraham Lincoln, delivered what is considered one of the most important speeches in US history – The Gettysburg Address. Delivered at the site of more than 50,000 casualties President Lincoln redefined the war as a battle not just to preserve the Union, but to save the fundamental principle of human freedom. Nobody listening that day would have been able to tell that Lincoln absolutely abhorred public speaking and would avoid it whenever possible.

Samuel L. Jackson, an actor who has never left the A-list since starring in Pulp Fiction 30 years ago, was a child who suffered with glossophobia and a debilitating stutter. His speech therapist suggested acting to help him work through these issues. Jackson overcame that obstacle and has gone on to appear in over 100 films.


Mahatma Gandhi’s glossophobia is well documented. It is said that he would suffer palpitations whenever in front of a crowd. He overcame his fears to become a lawyer, politician, social activist, writer and the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. In India he is considered the father of the country.

These people made careers out of speaking or at least utilised speaking to enhance their roles and your career as a celebrant is every bit as reliant on being able to do the same. Like Samuel L. Jackson, Julia Roberts and the like you are essentially acting. You may have had the worst night’s sleep, lost a pet, had the world come crashing down around you and then have to face a crowd of people gathered to support two loved-up people on the biggest, happiest day of their life. You have to become something that you may not be feeling. That’s your job. Part of that job description is speaking publicly. So there are no two ways about it – you need to become an excellent, top-notch, inspiring public speaker. That cannot be avoided if you want success as a celebrant.

While there may be untested truth to fearing speaking over death, what we have to realise is that avoidance of public speaking when you are in a position or role that requires it, can actually be like death – in a sense. The death of promotional opportunities, workplace advancement, personal growth, client referrals and more can be the result of hiding away from public speaking opportunities or not doing it well.


So do you want to be a marriage celebrant but have a fear of public speaking? Rose Training Australia can help you with that.

Contact one of the friendly team now to learn more about how you can become a top celebrant with Australia’s top celebrancy trainers.

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