Soon, new terms emerged such as Zoom fatigue. But an issue that has been less discussed is the role that nerves might play in these mediated sessions.
But it was in the 20th century that communication anxiety was studied in depth. It has been described by a number of different terms, including stage fright, unwillingness to communicate, and communication apprehension.
Research suggests about one in five speakers experience high communication apprehension. This can make all speaking opportunities difficult.
The prevalence of public speaking anxiety is well documented. It is complex (varying causes, indicators, and treatment options), individual (affecting speakers differently), and unstable (changing levels of anxiety within and between presentations).
A focus on individual differences acknowledges that internal thoughts and feelings might not match external behavior. For example, a speaker who appears disengaged may actually feel a lack of control.
It is the audience, and the potential for negative evaluation from that audience, that can make us feel anxious. And those listening can be physically or virtually present.
This brings us to the rather awkward situation of speaking to rows of little boxes on a screen in a video hook-up. Not only does this set-up limit broader non-verbal cues, but it also restricts general banter between participants.
On the plus side, this can make sessions more time-efficient, but it does tend to make conversations more stilted.
A perceived need to be visible is a contested area in online delivery. In educational settings, those who support “cameras on for everyone” suggest it helps to replicate usual classroom conditions, encourages discussion, and ensures students are actually in attendance (not just logged on).
But it is important to consider the rationale behind making any feature mandatory. Participating in a video app is not the same as a live setting.
For a start, speakers rarely see themselves when talking to others. As a lecturer, seeing myself onscreen while speaking with a class can be distracting, especially when trying to look directly at the camera lens to maximize eye contact.
Whether running a business meeting or teaching a class, the following tips may help you to feel more comfortable speaking online:
Online tutorials, workshops, and meetings are here to stay for the moment. To create safe, supportive, and productive sessions, we need to build competent and confident speaking practices.
Acknowledging that speaking anxiety is common, and affects people in live and virtual settings, is a good place to start.
Images used courtesy of Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
The final report from the aged care royal commission this week was damning. Speaking of…
That Australian women earn less than Australian men is well-known. The latest calculation put the…
After years of repeatedly missing its inflation target through too timid monetary policy, in the…