Public Speaking Anxiety and Its Effect on Students Essay

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     Public speaking anxiety is a problem for many people. Some say that it is the number one fear of Americans over death. There have been many studies done in the general field of public speaking anxiety. I am going to review five articles that touch on various issues surrounding public speaking anxiety. All five of these articles are from Communication journals and are at most five years old.

Literature Review

     There have been many studies done on public speaking anxiety in the field of communications. I have chosen these five articles to review because I believe that put together, they give a good background on the recent research done on this subject. The first article looks at student's memories of speeches they have given. The second article looks at how public speaking anxiety affects speech preparation. The third article looks at how speech anxiety changes due to audience pleasantness and familiarity. The fourth article looks at when anxiety actually starts for students given a speech assignment. The fifth article summarizes a study where people with no formal background in communication are asked to explain why people experience public speaking anxiety.

     The first article is entitled "Communication apprehension and implicit memories of public speaking state anxiety." Sawyer and Behnke discussed two studies in this article. The first is labeled "Short term memory", and the second is labeled "Long term memory". In study one, their subjects were 44 undergraduate students (22 males, 22 females) that were taking a required basic speech communication class. Each student gave a short two-minute speech to a classroom of 20-25 students. The speeches were videotaped and later played back and reviewed by the instructor. Directly after giving their speeches, the students were asked to fill out Spielberger's (Speilberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1969) STAI (A-State) scale, which asks the student how he/she felt while giving the presentation. They also filled this out several weeks before the speech, on how they felt about public speaking in general. Then they were asked to fill out the scale after class. The results showed that recollections of state speaking anxiety decrease over time.
The second study participants were 40 undergraduate students (20 male, 20 female) enrolled in a basic speech communication course. At the beginnin...

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..., in the first phase. The second phase saw 192 students (52 men, 140 women) ranging from ages 17-48 (avrg. 20).

     In the first phase, they asked 42 students to write down reasons why they thought people experienced stage fright. They found the highest rated was the Mistakes factor, followed by Unfamiliar Role, Humiliation, Negative Results, and Rigid Rules.

     For the second phase, they collected surveys from 258 students (of which they used 192). The surveys asked questions about how the student felt about public speaking. They categorized 38 of the students as low apprehensives and 41 as high apprehensives.

     It is obvious to me that public speaking anxiety is definitely a problem amongst many people. The only study that I read to find out exactly what percentage of students suffer from public speaking anxiety was the last one. That is why I have chosen to research this topic more. I think that their study was well done, but I think there are more students suffering than they found. I did not come across any studies to find what students do to overcome their public speaking anxiety. Which is why I have chosen to research this topic as well.

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