Overcoming Speech Apprehension

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Overcoming Speech Apprehension Nervousness, ranging from slight edginess full-blown panic, plagues large numbers of adults and students whenever they are required to give oral presentations. It is quite common to be nervous when addressing an audience. Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, and rapid heart rate are only a few of the symptoms reported by adults making important stand-up presentations and by students in business communication courses. If nervousness about presentations is a significant problem, then one needs to seek understanding of the cause and find solutions to cope with such feelings. Causes of Discomfort Over the last twenty-five years, a large amount of research has increased our understanding of the nervous presenter and our knowledge of how the nervous presenter can be helped. Much of the information is scattered throughout journals in several disciplines and has never been synthesized. The most important recent findings are that presenter nervousness is both widespread and serious (Halverson-Wente, 2002). Fear & Anxiety From the Differential Emotions Theory perspective, the nervous presenter's experience can most accurately be called fear (Hamption, 2009) The feelings are much the same as when one fears falling from a tall building or being bitten by a snake. While the average person may be unwilling to use the self-label "afraid," both physiological tests and personal reports of symptoms reflect reaction patterns that are hard to
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