CALL Speaks: Casie Riodique (Guest Blogger)

Hurling That Speech Anxiety Wall

Speech Anxiety

                Although I love public speaking now, I never really grasped the concept until high school when I was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program. Most of my course work involved me in front of class with a tape recorder presenting a speech. I had to speak in my English classes, philosophy class, and even in Spanish class. These presentations where long, typically 10 to 20 minutes. They also required difficult elements such as question and answer sessions and impromptu speaking.  All of these high pressure experiences required me to overcome my speech anxiety. Now when I give any type of speech in college, I think back on how I overcame anxiety in high school.

                However, that’s not to say that I am invincible to speech anxiety. In the words of Steven A. Beebe, “Almost every speaker experiences some degree of nervousness.” (13). This is completely true! Whether it is President Obama or our favorite celebrities that we see speaking on television, they all feel the same anxiety that we do. So, if they all feel anxiety, how do they make it seem like they’re not nervous? In Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, Beebe states, “You are going to feel more nervous than you look,” (13). Therefore, if you look confident, you are going to feel confident. Whereas, if you look nervous, then you are going to feel like you aren’t going to succeed. This is one of the most important factors when it comes to dealing with speech anxiety.

                Another tip is to visualize yourself succeeding, which is easier said than done. Even if you come prepared with a great speech, you can still become anxious when it comes to game time. Channel your nervous energy! This can be done through techniques such as breathing. This seems so basic but it is frequently overlooked. Forgetting to breathe can cause you to speak too fast and run into awkward hiccups in the midst of your speech. Also, don’t be afraid of pauses! Pauses work in your favor by giving you type to recollect your thoughts. These tactics are essential to getting over speak anxiety.

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Beebe, Steven A., and Susan J. Beebe. Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach. 6th. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Inc., 2005. Print.


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