Basics

Click here to assess your public speaking anxiety on this scientifically valid measure.
*Measure is called the Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) McCroskey, J. C. (1970).
Measures of communication-bound anxiety. Speech Monographs, 37, 269-277.

Basics

Research in communication apprehension has shown that excessive and prolonged speaking anxiety results in a downward spiral. Beyond the negatives associated with apprehension, such as embarrassment and inability to focus, this anxiety leads to additional costly outcomes. First, not only does speaking anxiety cause you to present poorer speeches, but if you’re highly anxious, you’re also likely to write poorer speeches. Second, people who appear nervous are often judged as being deceptive. Many behaviors associated with nervousness—avoiding eye contact, stumbling over words, pacing around, and the like—are also linked to lying or hiding information. This means that speaking anxiety can negatively influence your credibility and your ability to make the impact you want, because people might question your trustworthiness. And, as if these problems aren’t enough, being nervous reduces your ability to think clearly, to make effective decisions, and to respond to your audience’s reactions.Anxiety negatively affects mental processing as well. This flustered mental processing results in anxious speakers remembering less. They remember fewer of their ideas and fewer details about those ideas. As a result, anxious speakers often struggle to think of the words and ideas that they want to express. They report a disconnect between their desired message and their delivered message.Finally, being highly anxious about presenting affects your ability to ascertain your speaking effectiveness. Not only does your anxiety negatively skew your ability to judge your own performance accurately, but your nervousness tends to make you misinterpret others’ feedback as being more negative than it is.

With all these possible costs in mind, reducing speaking anxiety is critical. Readily available, easy-to-implement techniques exist that can assist you in becoming a confident, compelling speaker. You can learn to speak up without freaking out!