Public speaking sparks fear in students


Senior Katie Cashin gives a speech during her forensics class.


Senior Katie Cashin gives a speech during her forensics class.
Senior Katie Cashin gives a speech during her forensics class.

Public speaking anxiety is a fear people may experience when they are delivering or preparing to give a speech or speak in front of others.

According to the the fear of public speaking is a common phobia. It can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic.

Some people on the Bellevue West’s Forensics team are scared of speaking in front of crowds and that’s what the class is mainly about. Sophomore Marcus Sandlin recently joined the team and was nervous about what people will think about whatever he’s speaking about.

“I freeze up and get red,” Sandlin said.

But forensics isn’t the only class that speeches are given at West. Every student in an English class is supposed to give two three to five minute speeches due to the curriculum.

Teachers, like Jamie Procopio, try to be understanding of public speaking anxiety.

“For the most part they really understand that getting up and giving a speech [is something that students need to do]. They really have to understand that no one likes speaking in front of people especially when it’s in front of their peers.” Procopio said.

Senior RaeAnn Daniels has speech anxiety and gets nervous when people stare at her while she’s talking.

“I start shaking and my voice starts wavering and my hands get really sweaty,” Daniels said.

According to the there are steps you can take to be more comfortable in public speaking. These steps include get organized, practice, visualize your success, do some deep breathing, focus on the material and not the audience, recognize your success, and get support.

“I just try to breathe really deeply and think they’re just listening and they’re not judging even though they really are,” Daniels said.

Teachers want to help students succeed and be comfortable. Procopio said that most of the time the problem is that students aren’t prepared.

“Usually [students] come to me prior to giving me their speech,” Procopio said. “I try to make that distinction between ‘I have anxiety’ vs. ‘I just didn’t want to do my work.’ A lot of the time when students actually have anxiety they come to me personally prior to when they’re assigned something.”

In an article written by Jeremiah Massengale for USA Today, Massengale wrote that the biggest reason students should take a public speaking class is because it prepares students for future events, such as college or job requirements.

“They do need to do this because it’s going to be practice for what they have to do when they get out of high school,” Procopio said.

Patience Jurgens