Public Speaking Anxiety and Its Effect on Students

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Public Speaking Anxiety and Its Effect on Students

Introduction

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 beginning of the semester each student filled out McCroskey's PRCA (1978). Each student gave a 5-minute speech in front of 25 other students and immediately after filled out Spielberger's scale. They were asked one week later to fill out the scale again. They again found that the student's recollection of anxiety had decreased over time. The level of decrease was contingent on the student's level of communication apprehension.

The second article is called "Speech anxiety affects how people prepare speeches: A protocol analysis of the preparation processes of speakers." This article was written by J. Daly, A. Vangelisti, and D. Weber. They begin by telling the reader what a serious problem public speaking anxiety is. This alone gives me the feeling that they are doing this study because they really want to help people who are suffering from this anxiety.

They took fifty-one undergraduate students who were enrolled in a large introductory lecture class on communication. They completed a measure of public speaking anxiety five weeks before the project. They randomly selected student from the class and came up with a group that represented the norm in terms of age, race, and gender. Each student was asked to prepare a speech in front of observers and speak out loud what he/she was thinking. The student then went and performed the speech in front of the class who were unaware of the study. The class then rated the student. The student was asked to answer some questions about...
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