Anxiety in public speaking ‘butterflies in your stomach’.
Anxiety has a profound impact upon oral communication, especially when that communication takes the form of a public address. Public speakers are significantly influenced by various affective factors that greatly contribute to the quality of the oral presentation. Although
some individuals tend to experience more anxiety about public speaking than others (Scott, Yates & Wheeless. 1975; McCroskey 1976). research has shown that anxiety does indeed have significant negative effects on an individual’s oral communication. The impact of such anxiety
may reveal itself in different ways. Communication anxiety is closely associated with communication avoidance. People who experience great anxiety about public speaking naturally avoid speaking in public. Anxiety is also
associated with language proficiency. SL researchers have long been aware that anxiety is a major obstacle to achieving oral fluency in a second language. especially if the learner lacks proficiency in the language. Language confidence, then. is a key factor contributing to anxiety in
public speaking. However, the negative effects of such anxiety upon a public speaker can be offset by
utilizing psychological strategies (e.g. positive thinking. self-confidence boosting) as well as practical ones like adequate preparation and practice. Furthermore, negative tension and stress can actually be transformed into a positive upsurge of energy that empowers a speech and gives it charisma and speaker 'presence'. This paper aims to examine the causes and effects of anxiety in public speaking and several methods by which such anxiety can be successfully overcome.
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