Positive Self-Talk Reduces Public Speaking Anxiety
What is this Research About?
Communication apprehension can range from mild nervousness to dropping a course out of fear of public speaking. Classes that require students to speak publicly can result in high anxiety levels. In this study, the researchers explored positive self-talk as a promising way to mitigate communication apprehension. The researchers surveyed students about their public speaking anxiety before and after giving a speech. The researchers compared students who were randomly assigned to repeat a positive, self-affirming statement before giving a speech, with a control group who did not repeat a positive statement to determine if positive self-talk would decrease public speaking anxiety.
What did the Researchers Do?
The researchers studied students enrolled in courses that included a public speaking component. Students in the experimental condition participated in small group recitation of a positive self-talk statement before giving their speech. Students in the control condition did not recite a positive self-talk statement. The researchers used a validated measure of public speaking anxiety to measure student’s anxiety levels before and after the speech. They also interviewed a subset of students in the experimental positive self-talk condition.
What did the Researchers Find?
Using the Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety Scale, the researchers found an average reduction in anxiety of 11.60% for classes that implemented positive, self-talk as opposed to an average 8.30% reduction in control cases. During the interviews, students universally described the positive self-talk statement as helpful in reducing the amount of public speaking anxiety they were feeling. One student stated that he, “felt less anxious and [he] felt a bit confident in giving presentations.” One reoccurring theme was that students felt more mentally prepared and less anxious as they approached giving their speech after repeating the positive statement.