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University of Tennessee

You Are Not Alone

Reported as the #1 fear of most Americans in a national survey, public speaking
anxiety/apprehension may be caused by:

    Student frozen in spotlight
  • Fear of being stared at/Fear of the “spotlight”
  • Fear of failure/Fear of making a “mistake”
  • Fear of rejection – speech not being good enough/self not being good enough
  • Fear of the unknown/”What if . . . ?”
Students in previous Public Speaking classes here at UT have echoed that list and expounded upon it. Among their Top 5 Fears/Concerns were:
  • Humiliation
  • Losing control
  • Hostile/Critical audience
  • Forgetting speech/information/organization
  • Looking/Acting nervous

Some commonly reported physical manifestations of this flight or fight response include:

    Student looking anxious
  • increase breathing (sounding out of breath/winded)
  • blushing or the uncontrollable red flush that creeps
    from the neck to the forehead
  • dry mouth (feels like you are dehydrating)
  • excessive perspiration (sweaty palms)/feeling very hot
  • heart pounding/rapid heartbeat
  • trembling/shaking hands and feet/legs
  • stomach butterflies or feelings of nausea
  • dizziness
  • quivering voice and/or stuttering
  • fidgeting/distracting mannerisms/excessive nervous energy