What is Public Speaking Apprehension?

1. Public speaking apprehension is communication-based anxiety were speakers, in response to an actual or expected presentation, experience physiological, cognitive, and behavioral responses (Daly et al., 1997).

2. It can manifest as a trait (rooted more in the person) and/or a state (rooted more in the situation).

Causes of PSA (Public Speaking Apprehension):

What’s causing our Public Speaking Apprehension?

  • Internally: Some physical and mental issues can trigger our PSA. 
    1. We misinterpret our body’s signals.
    2. We misremember what happened.
    3. We misperceive what the audience saw.
  • Externally: We respond to situational factors that make apprehension worse, including: 
    • Novelty
    • Formality
    • Status
    • Degree of evaluation 
    • Conspicuousness
    • Prior history, etc.

Reducing PSA (Public Speaking Apprehension):

Everyone has some speech apprehension. You might try a combination of: 

  1. Systematic desensitization. Picture yourself in different speaking situations. 
  2. V isualization. See yourself doing well in each of the four stages of speaking: anticipation, confrontation, adaptation, and release. 
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  4. Cognitive modification. Try to evaluate your fears. 
  5. Practicing. You gotta log in the hours of practice. 

Breath control

  • When speaking, unlike sitting around, we inhale for a shorter period of time and exhale for a longer period. 
  • We need a good volume of air to project well. 
  • Diaphragmatic breathing contracts the diaphragm allowing you to take in more air. 
  • When breathing diaphragmatically, your stomach should move, but your shoulders shouldn’t.  


  • Good projection requires good breath control. 
  • Try to expand the pharynx a bit to add to your resonance.
  • When projecting, speak for 10 rows past the back row. 
  • When projecting, listen for a tiny bit of echo.  


  1. Pitch is the highness or lowness of a tone or sound. 
  2. Maintain good contrastive tone by:
    • not reading too much.
    • writing for oral performance.
    • vocally warming up before speaking.

Rate and pauses

  • 1. Imagine your audience taking notes on your talk. Where would you need to slow down for them to easily write down important ideas? 
  • Deliver important lines more slowly. 
  • Use pauses and repetition to direct attention. 
  • Privilege the intonation unit. As much as possible, try to avoid breaking up a phrase with an um.


There is no right or wrong way to gesture. In general, though, you might want to: 

  • have controlled gestures.
  • use gestures to augment and emphasize the content.
  • use gestures to be a more animated speaker.  
  • find speakers you like and model their gestures.


Your movements are unique to you. You might think about these principles. 

  1. Be committed. Your movement shouldn’t look unconscious. Rather, more purposefully. 
  2. Be seen. Face the audience. Make sure the majority can easily see you (and your face). 
  3. Be strategic. What do you want the movement to accomplish? Is it illustrating an idea? Conveying excitement?

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