Speech Study Guide

Facial expressions are the eye and mouth movements that convey emotions. When someone talk with friends, their facial expressions are naturally animated with smiles, frowns, raising an eyebrow, and so forth. Audiences expect a speaker’s facial expressions to be similarly animated. This conveys nonverbal immediacy by communicating that the speaker is personable and likeable. Through facial expressions, people can “say” a lot. Gestures are movements of a person’s hands, arms, and fingers. Effective gestures emphasize important points and ideas, refer to presentational aids, or clarify structure. The audience generally will find a speech easier to listen to when the speaker uses effective gestures as compared to a speaker with his hands in his pockets. Gestures should appear natural and not a nervous type behavior. Though it may seem odd, body language is conveyed even if an audience cannot see the speaker. As such, it is crucial for a speaker to adhere to the general guidelines of body language and voice expression. 8.6 Understanding the Nature of Public Speaking Apprehension When many adults are asked about what they fear the most, public speaking is at the top of the list. Studies have shown almost all Americans have some level of public speaking apprehensions, and about fifteen percent experience high levels of apprehension. One author writes that some public speaking apprehension makes one a better public speaker than having none at all. That fear can be labeled as an adrenaline boost that will help speakers perform at their best. While some tension is constructive, the goal is not to eliminate the nervousness, but to learn how to manage it and use it for good. 8.7 Factors that Contribute to Communication Apprehension Understanding the underlying causes of communication apprehension is the essential first step in learning to manage it effectively. The first cause to mention is simply that the speaker feels poor preparation, or ill-prepared. Trait anxiety is when someone is apprehensive whenever they are called upon to speak. State anxiety is mentioned as a particular set of circumstances that trigger communication apprehension. People may see a particular audience or speech setting as threatening. Self-expectations can be large stumbling blocks for many. Speakers can expect too much of themselves with unrealistic expectations, hoping for perfection, while others may expect to little. Perhaps they had a disappointing speaking experience early in their lives and have avoided speaking since then. Sometimes, speakers fear evaluation by others. They may perceive that listeners will judge them critically and be quick to note flaws. Fearing that listeners perceive apprehension is often another concern for speakers. The speaker just knows that the audience can sense his or her anxiety. Going right along with that is the fear of failure. No one wants to fail and if someone is already apprehensive about speaking, that fear can go into “overdrive.” When a speaker’s anxiety level is elevated and they are apprehensive, they may experience a wide range of physiological reactions .


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