Speech classes cause anxiety to spiral

By forcing students to give speeches and presentations, anxiety levels multiply.

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Jaylean Thompson

Elena Waddoups, grade 9, demonstrates a panic attack.

Jaylean Thompson, Reporter

Have you ever had to give a speech and/or presentation in front of class? Did you feel nervous or anxious whenever you gave one? 

Every single time I have had to give a speech or presentation in front of the class, I have always broken down due to my anxiety. 

Even though I’ve done many presentations and speeches or if I know the audience well, I feel my anxiety getting worse every time I present. 

In 2016, The National Social Anxiety Center stated “The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights”.

They also report that “public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population.” Public speaking requirements in classes are only making students’ anxiety worse. 

Students could fear going to school for a number of reasons. But since 73% of the population have a fear of public speaking, giving speeches and presentations in class is the main issue/fear.

According to Arlin Cunic in 2019: “For students with a bona fide public speaking phobia, required class presentations could turn what is supposed to be a learning experience into a painful four years of severe anxiety and avoidance.” 

This is showing that even though it may not seem like a big deal to teachers, public speaking could lead students into regretting school and having it become a fear factor of their lives. 

The main reason students have all this anxiety is due to the lack of support and reassurance in this topic.

Students mainly just need reassurance that they’re going to do great. They might even need help with being able to overcome their fear because they can’t do it alone. 

Cunic also states “Requiring teens to do class presentations without the necessary psychological support for students with public speaking phobias is an oversight. Teachers need to be trained to spot the symptoms of severe anxiety and send those students on to the school psychologist”. 

More anxious students only focus on the negative reactions, leaving their mental health astray and causing things to get worse and worse overtime. 

If there were a place that students could go to get the reassurance and time they need to calm down and get prepared, it wouldn’t be as terrifying to give speeches as it is now.

Many of you may be thinking that public speaking practice in high school would help students overcome their fear of public speaking, so it shouldn’t be a big deal in the long run. Although some students may overcome their fear from these requirements, most anxious people do not. 

The British Psychological Society states in 2016 “…anxious people spend more time looking at bored or disagreeable faces in the audience, this is only going to fuel their fear. By contrast, less anxious people seem to have a healthy bias towards looking at happy, engaged listeners”. 

Although anxious people could learn this from less anxious people, it is still going to take a lot of mental health support that schools aren’t willing to provide. 

If students are willing to do class presentations or want a job that involves public speaking, then they should be able to have the opportunity to take such classes. Although it should not be a required class to graduate due to the listed circumstances.

Side Bar: Top 6 Greatest Fears: Social Phobia (Social Anxiety), Fear of Heights (Acrophobia), Fear of Bugs, Snakes, or Spiders (Ophidiophobia/Arachnophobia), Fear of Closed Spaces (Claustrophobia), Fear of Flying (Aerophobia), and Fear of the Dark (Nyctophobia).