Overcoming Speech Anxiety

Students who take public speaking classes are fearful of delivering speeches. Although we work on speech anxiety in my classes, that is not our focus.Anxiety is a “fight or flight” physiological response left over from the “caveman” (That’s Sexist!) days when we needed adrenaline to face a predator. Since classmates are not predators, folks shouldn’t worry.

There are many silly myths about how to handle speech anxiety, such as have a drink to knock the edge off, or look over people’s heads instead of making direct eye contact. Anything that keeps you from engaging with the audience is a mistake.

The silliest of all is the “old saw” about imagining your audience naked. To address that, I devised the following revision of “Texts from Hillary” meme. This about covers it:

 

To determine your level of anxiety, you can take Professor James McCroskey’s Personal Report of Communication Apprehension to measure your communication apprehension. There is also a web app version of the PRCA that will score the math for you.

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