Most of us feel some discomfort when speaking in front of an audience. For some people, this is so frightening that a lot of anxiety builds up just by knowing that a potential speech situation is lying ahead. Dealing with this situation also takes a lot of energy.
One in five people suffers from severe speech anxiety. It is characterised by the discomfort becoming so hard to bear that you prefer not to do it at all. You might start trying to avoid speech situations to every extent.
Speech anxiety that affects your studies
In your studies, there may be several compulsory elements, such as seminars or examinations, where you have to stand in front of a group and give some kind of presentation. If you have speech anxiety, this, or even to have to participate in seminars and voice your opinion, will be very difficult. The situation will be experienced as uncomfortable. It is common to get physical symptoms such as dizziness, feeling out of breath, that your heart beats fast, and/or that your legs feel weak.
You can also become paralysed by fear of blushing in front of others. You can feel invaded by negative thoughts about what others will think or by negative thoughts about yourself. If this is what you experience it is easy to start avoiding situations where this can happen. It can then be difficult to manage your studies.
At the Student Health Service, we meet many students who suffer from severe speech anxiety. Some of them have dropped out of their studies to avoid situations where they have to give presentations. If you suffer from speech anxiety that is hindering you in your studies you can contact us for advice or to book a counselling session.