Fear of public speaking can be overcome

By Gabriel Obaya
Pulse Staff Reporter

GOBAYAA lump in your throat, sweaty hands, an aching stomach, and a pounding heart. These are symptoms that are common in a person with communication apprehension or fear of public speaking.

Eric Flores, a freshman Business major, said, “Every time I try going up to read, either an essay or debate in front of my classmates, my hands become sweaty and my mind just draws a blank, completely forgetting everything I was planning on saying.”

Those with a fear of public speaking do not all land under the category of being shy.

“Fear of public speaking is not limited to just individuals that are new to public speaking. It’s not limited to individuals that are just shy….it extends to all sorts of individuals…because there’s certain levels of apprehension and anxiety,” said Joseph Coppola, instructor of Speech and president of Faculty Senate.

Three levels of anxiety come with public speaking fear: trait anxiety, state anxiety and scrutiny anxiety.

Trait anxiety occurs within the personality of an individual, meaning if a person is shy, he’ll be shy when it comes to presenting. State anxiety comes from the external situation that individuals find themselves. For example, a person who was publicly embarrassed before may have been affected badly so that they relive that moment each time in public. Scrutiny anxiety is most common and usually occurs when an individual does not necessarily have any interaction with others, but is fearful of others watching them or the feeling of being observed when presenting.

Many classes on campus help students overcome public speaking fear. SPCH 1315: Public Speaking; SPCH 1311: Introduction to Communication; SPCH: 1318 Interpersonal Communications; and SPCH 1321: Business and Professional Communications all give students the opportunity to practice speaking before others.

SPCH 1315 focuses on how to reduce your nervousness and identify where your nervousness comes from. It offers one-on-one-exercises for delivering speeches.

SPCH 1311 targets interpersonal communication, public speaking, group communications and all sorts of other communication.

Brittany Garcia, a sophomore Education major who took SPCH 1318 said, “I learned that with different types of relationships, you have different types of speech… meaning I wouldn’t talk to my professor the way I would talk to friends or my boyfriend.”

SPCH 1318 discusses how some individuals are nervous and very informal when interacting with others, and it offers ways to reduce those types of behaviors.

SPCH 1321: Business and Professional Communications offers students the basic techniques of business and professional presentations, including organization and other communication that is used in business settings.

Along with classes, exercises can reduce a person’s fear of public speaking and help them improve their public speaking. Visualization of your speech before you present is highly effective.

Coppola said, “Instead of thinking about the mistakes you’re going to make, think about those are opportunities for improvement, for you to improve on your speaking. Visualize yourself being successful.”

Breathe and release is a technique used where a person imagines the nervousness inside them as liquid being cooked. Draw that energy to a high point in your body with a deep and cleansing breath and release the energy by breathing out.

Other exercises involve preparing your speech, practicing your speech as many times as you can, and practicing your expressiveness by recording yourself presenting and taking notes on what you can improve on.

Fear of public speaking is common in many people. Learning to overcome it could be a big help for your future career.