If anxiety is the anticipation of a danger, which might the dangers in public speaking be, especially in a foreign language that you don’t master sufficiently? The fears might be looking foolish, mental block, making errors, losing control, and many more. All in all, this amounts to being judged negatively, laughed at.
“The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born and never stops until you get up to speak in public.” Emotional symptoms of public speaking anxiety include feeling excessively self-conscious, shy, awkward, anxious, embarrassed. Cognitive symptoms may be amnesia; confusion; mental block.
Among the causes for this type of anxiety are anxious personality traits, pursuing high expectations, the wish to be perfect or perfectionism, fear of judgement, insecurity / lack of self – confidence, personal propensity to anxiety, lack of preparation/practice, wrong method of preparation, lack of motivation, past failures. In some cases the situation is so stressful in itself that anxiety seems inevitable.
Specific psychological instruments like the Personal Report of Confidence as a Speaker scale are designed to identify the presence and level of public speaking anxiety. Some of its items are: 1. My hands tremble when I try to handle objects on the platform. 2. I am in constant fear of forgetting my speech. 3. While preparing a speech I am in a constant state of anxiety. 4. My thoughts become confused and jumbled when I speak before the audience. 5. Although I talk fluently with friends I am at a loss for words on the platform. 6. The faces of my audience are blurred when I look at them. 7. I feel disgusted with myself after trying to address a group of people. 8. I perspire and tremble just before getting up to speak. 9. My posture feels strained and unnatural. 10. I am fearful and tense all the while I am speaking before a group of people. 11. It is difficult for me to search my mind calmly for the right words to express my thoughts. 12. I am terrified at the thought of speaking before a group of people.