What makes you nervous?

In my presentations, I often talk about overcoming speech anxiety. But the reality is that people get nervous in a variety of communication situations for a variety of reasons. Some people get more nervous meeting strangers, while others get more nervous in small groups, while others are more nervous during meetings.

If we become aware of the specific situations that make us nervous we’ll have a better chance of managing the situation.

The following is part of the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension was developed by McCroskey*. It helps you to understand your overall oral communication apprehension and it also helps to break it down into 4 different categories: meetings, group discussion, interpersonal communication, and public speaking.

To complete the report indicate the degree to which each of the following statements apply to you by writing the number showing whether you:
1-strongly agree 2-agree 3-undecided 4-disagree -strongly disagree
__ 1. I dislike participating in group discussions.
__ 2. Generally, I am comfortable while participating in group discussions.
__ 3. I am tense and nervous while participating in group discussions.
__ 4. I like to get involved in group discussions.
__ 5. Engaging in group discussion with new people makes me tense and nervous.
__ 6. I am calm and relaxed while participating in group discussions.
__ 7. Generally, I am nervous when I have to participate in a meeting.
__ 8. Usually I am calm and relaxed while participating in meetings.
__ 9. I am calm and relaxed when called upon to express opinions in meetings.
__10. I am afraid to express myself at meetings.
__11. Communicating at meetings usually makes me uncomfortable.
__12. I am very relaxed when answering questions at a meeting.
__13. While in a conversation with a new acquaintance, I feel very nervous.
__14. I have no fear of speaking up in conversations.
__15. Ordinarily I am very tense and nervous in conversations.
__16. Ordinarily I am very calm and relaxed in conversations.
__17. While conversing with a new acquaintance, I feel very relaxed.
__18. I’m afraid to speak up in conversations.
__19. I have no fear of giving a speech.
__20. Certain parts of my body feel very tense and rigid while giving a speech.
__21. I feel relaxed while giving a speech.
__22. My thoughts become confused and jumbled when I am giving a speech.
__23. I face the prospect of giving a speech with confidence.
__24. While giving a speech, I get so nervous I forget facts I really know.

To calculate your score for each of the four communication contexts measured by this instrument, add or subtract your scores for each item as described below. Begin your adding or subtracting with 18 points in each case.
Group Discussion 18 points
+ scores for items 2, 4, and 6;
— scores for items 1,3, and 5.
Meetings 18 points
+ scores for items 8, 9, and 12;
–scores for items 7, 10, and 11.
Interpersonal Communication 18 points
+ scores for items 14, 16, and 17;
— scores for items 13, 15,and 18.
Public Speaking 18 points
+ scores for items 19, 21, and 23;
— scores for items 20, 22, and 24.
To determine your overall score, add the points you earned on all four of the contexts together.
Range of Scores: 24-120
Average Score: 65 (plus or minus 15)
High Level of Communication Anxiety: above 80
Low Level of Communication Anxiety: below 50

*This is from J. C. McCroskey, “Oral Communication Apprehension: A Summary of Recent
Theory & Research,” Human Communications Research 4:78-96. Copyright © 1977 Sage
Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA.

Do you want to learn more? Sign up for the next small group presentation skills workshop, consider one-on-one coaching, or ask your organization to sponsor a large group seminar. After all, you didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book–you needed an expert coach (your Dad) to show you how to do it and then you needed lots of encouragement and practice, right? That’s what I can offer.

Don’t agree with me? As always, I am interested in your feedback.

There are 2 comments .

Mayur —

Need your assistance. I have too much problem while presenting my self. Mind become blank.


Reply »
Rosie —

Hello Lisa,
I am a counselor and I do not have difficulty with conversations. My anxiety is in presenting and in group meetings. I forget information and feel very stressed.

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