An Evaluation of a Course Aimed at Reducing Public Speaking Anxiety among University Students

Sally Quinn
University of York, UK

Adam Goody
Durham University

Public speaking is a highly important skill for a graduate to achieve, and despite many students reporting high public speaking anxiety, this is rarely addressed in current undergraduate degree courses. The following paper evaluates the effectiveness of a course aimed at reducing students’ levels of public speaking anxiety via a relatively simple and resource minimal approach. Twenty-nine students completed 9 sessions aimed to improve public speaking confidence. Across the sessions, students progressed from conducting informal presentations in front of small numbers of students towards formal presentations of academic content in front of increasingly larger audiences. In a latter session, students were also encouraged to reflect on their experience of the course and to note any skills they had developed. Delivery of the public speaking program resulted in significant reductions in scores on two standardized measures of public speaking anxiety, the Audience Anxiousness Scale and the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension. It is suggested that University departments should consider offering courses for students which allow them to practice public speaking.

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