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We Are Not Alone

We Are Not Alone  |  Reframing  |  In Our Own Words

Though you may have felt that you are the only person suffering from speech anxiety, you are not. In fact, 74% of people report suffering from speech anxiety, according to a 2016 study by the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

Causes: The Fears Behind the Stress

Smiling students outside together

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

  • Being stared at
  • The “Spotlight”
  • Failure
  • Making a “mistake”
  • Rejection – person or speech not being “good enough”
  • The unknown – “What if . . . ?”




Concerns: Top Five UT Student Fears

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

Symptoms: Fight, Flight, and Nervous Energy

For many people, speech anxiety causes these normal and natural physical reactions:

  • Rapid, increased 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 dehydrated)
  • Excessive perspiration (sweaty palms)/feeling very hot
  • Rapid, increased heartrate
  • Trembling/shaking hands and feet/legs
  • Stomach butterflies or feelings of nausea
  • Dizziness, light-headedness
  • Quivering voice and/or stuttering
  • Fidgeting/distracting mannerisms
  • Excessive nervous energy



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