As a high school student, one is often required to present their work in front of a class. Many may argue that doing so enhances a student’s public speaking skills and prepares them for the “real world.” Although that is true, forcing students to present their work can cause extreme stress and lead to unnecessary anxiety for students.
Because public speaking is not a course offered at CCHS, it is woven into many other subjects such as English, speech and debate, Spanish, French, Advanced Placement (AP) Seminar and AP Research. Requiring individuals to present their work often triggers side effects caused by anxiety.
The fear of public speaking, more formally known as glossophobia, is prevalent among high school students. According to Healthline, four out of 10 Americans suffer from glossophobia. Symptoms can include rapid heartbeat, trembling, hyperventilating, dizziness, sweating and muscle tension.
As stated in Psychology Today, public speaking anxiety may derive from a variety of factors including physiology, thoughts, situations and
“I think if a student is really unsettled and anxious because of [presenting], you should probably make it something less stressful,” 14-year-old student Ula said in The Atlantic. “School isn’t something a student should fear.”
Presentations are often graded based not only on content but on performance. Making eye contact, speaking clearly, utilizing body language and looking confident are all critical aspects of presenting that can make or break one’s grade. Students suffering from glossophobia often struggle to perform well due to their nerves and, therefore, are penalized through their grade.
Educators may argue that students will not learn necessary life skills if they are not required to present to their peers. However, for students experiencing anxiety, forcing them to present will only lead to more intense effects that will stay with them all the way into adulthood.
As stated in Psychology Today, public speaking anxiety may derive from a variety of factors including physiology, thoughts, situations and skills. In high school, thoughts are one of the most important factors. Many individuals overthink presentations and stress over ideas created in their head. They may say to themselves that they are “not good speakers,” which instills an internal fear. Although these thoughts may not always be true, it is difficult for students with glossophobia to stray away from them.
Another factor that contributes to presentation anxiety is knowing who one is presenting for. Students often need time to bond with their peers before presenting to them. Some classes that assign summer work require that assignment to be presented within the first few days of school. Entering a classroom on the first day with both social and public speaking anxiety and being required to present information to the class can lead to panic for the student.
Not requiring students to present will lead to happier and healthier high school experiences.
“Students should have the option of whether or not to present,” sophomore Angel Brown said. “It takes some students longer to become comfortable with their peers.”
Based on statistics from Forbes, 10 percent of the population loves public speaking, 10 percent of the population despises public speaking and 80 percent of the population just accept the fact that they must speak publically despite their nerves. That 80 percent should not feel obligated to speak if they feel uncomfortable. Forcing an individual to present does not help them get over their fears– it creates additional ones.
In high school, anxiety is common among the student population. Alongside rigorous coursework, extracurricular activities and club commitments, presenting is an additional stressor that is placed on students. Not requiring students to present will lead to happier and healthier high school experiences.
Photo by Alexa Jaspan