Skip to content

Sources of Anxiety

There are multiple reasons why you have speech anxiety and none of them are your fault. Triggers can be internal (within you) or external (due to environmental factors). The more we understand “why” we feel the way we do, the better we can utilize this nervous energy in a more positive way and manage it more effectively.

Two students talking

Internal Sources

  • Past negative experiences with presentations/public speaking
  • Lack of experience/lack of positive experiences with presentations/public speaking
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Inability to effectively manage speech anxiety symptoms
  • Lack of knowledge and tools for delivering an effective presentation and effectively managing your speech anxiety
  • Imagining negative outcomes – “What if . . . ?”
  • Unrealistic goals – a “perfect” speech (there is NO such thing)
  • Negative self-talk and self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Lack of preparation and/or practice

External Sources

  • Audience – fear of judgment, waiting for you to fail (they actually want you to succeed)
  • Spotlight – feeling self-conscious
  • Content – accuracy and interest level
  • Delivery – effectiveness at managing speech anxiety
  • Grading – prepare and practice, use the rubrics, ask questions

Next step: explore the Managing Our Anxiety page for tips and strategies

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.