Speech Anxiety Causes and Management

Only 15 % of Americans are able to speak in public without fear, 5% of them getting pleasure from the process (Speech Anxiety Cure.Com 2007). Meanwhile, the ability of public speaking is one of the decisions in the modern world, where one has to constantly communicate. We have to give public speeches at school in front of the class as we answer the learned lesson, we have to defend a thesis at the university, and then we are to be interviewed by the employers, and to speak before our colleagues and subordinates. Besides, the broad requirements of PR and accountability, creativity and on-going training often put the modern person into the situations when he must perform and speak in the face of the audience. There are two things to be understood: 1) speech anxiety is normal and common. 2) it can be managed.
Speech anxiety is so common that even Sir Olivier Lawrence experienced it during his whole life, after many years of performing on stage. The greatest minds in psychology and psychiatry tried to understand its nature. Freud traced the roots of public fear to the moment of our birth when we first appeared naked and helpless before the audience. Karl Jung based his explanation on the archetypical thinking of the humankind and the myth of Achilles with the weak heel of his. Thus Jung stated that our shyness comes from our assumption that our enemies (i.e. our listeners) are aware of our secret weakness. Alfred Adler found roots of shyness and anxiety in the “inferiority complex”, when we project our talents, knowledge, and skills onto the audience, disempowering ourselves. McLuhan, contemplating on the performance anxiety of Sir Lawrence, explained it from the positions of social roles. Not knowing how to behave in an unusual situation, we feel anxiety (In Colombo 2007). Eric Berne would say that speech anxiety is the result of our parents’ impact, while Harry Adler (the author of several books on NLP) would say that it is the result of earlier.