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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of public speaking apprehension (PSA) in the workplace Erlebach, Anne C.


As a result of less secure employment relationships, downsizings, restructurings and ah unstable economic climate, many employees may be required to assert themselves by presenting to groups, teams and in front of managers, in order to compete in their chosen field of work. These presentations may be a problem for employees who experience significant public speaking apprehension (PSA) also referred to iri research as public speaking anxiety. Research to date has focused either on the pathological form of public speaking anxiety or on communication apprehension in general. This qualitative phenomenological study is based on eight in-depth interviews with participants recruited from Toastmasters' who fear public speaking and are motivated to overcome their fear. Results revealed common themes that included early childhood experiences, participants' self concepts and the influences their fear has had on it, factors affecting a PSA experience, participants' beliefs, attributions and assumptions about PSA, strategies for coping with PSA, as well as the influence of PSA throughout participants' lives. A phenomenological description of the complex structure of PSA was developed to reveal its essential meaning. Discussion focuses on the fundamental, unchanging nature of the experience, how people may perceive it, the impact it has on a person's self concept and how public speaking apprehension may affect one's academic and career choices. Implications are presented for counsellors, employers and organizations. Directions for future research are suggested.

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