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Old 22 June 2012, 08:38 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
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Icon22 Fear of public speaking

Comment: I keep reading articles that allude to research which indicates
that public speaking is the #1 fear in America.

Where is this research? Are people just making it up? The only such survey
I can find is a Gallup poll which showed that snakes was the #1 fear.

This has been bugging me for a while.
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Old 22 June 2012, 10:29 PM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
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It's certainly true that public speaking is a widespread fear, but yeah, the research backing up specific claims seems to be a little light:
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Old 27 June 2012, 08:45 AM
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Default Trust me Death is scarier.

The oft quoted "fact" that "public speaking is more scary than death" is plain wrong, wrong, and wrong. Another hugely important "fact" that "76% of all communication is through body language is also really, really wrong. Mostly.
The trouble is with these "facts" is that they are not only wrong but if you pay attention to them they actually make things a whole lot worse. And yet they get repeated everyday throughout the web as gospel truth.

For the moment let me just deal with the death one. Often people will write "Many surveys suggest" or "Based on the Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking ranks number 1 inside the minds of the most of people. Far above worries of death and disease." Let me repeat that "Far above worries of death and disease". If we are constanly told to believe that public speaking is scarier than death then maybe we come to believe it. And maybe it gives us a great excuse not to face the fears. If its scarier than death then lets not bother.

But if this was really true the suicide rate would be huge. Businesses would have to stop you doing presentations for health and safety reasons. "I've got a presentation tomorrow, I will just hang myself and save me the bother of doing a presentation" .

However the Accident and emergency units are clearly not full of power-what is the-point-ers. So what is going on? We need the facts. The trouble is its hard to get them. Writers hide behind "most surveys suggest" etc. I have to thank Richard I. Garber for his research on this question.

The survey is reproduced in the 1977 book of lists. But that's reproducing a 1973 survey by Bruskin Associates. Here it is

14 worst human fears 1. Speaking before a group 2. Heights 3. Insects and Bugs 4. Financial Problems 5. Deep Water. 6. Sickness 7. Death 8. Flying 9.Loneliness 10. Dogs 11. Driving in a Car 12. Darkness 13. Elevators. 14. Escalators. 15. Surveys about fears (i made that one up)

Yes, public speaking is above Death but so are spiders, financial problems and deep water.

This survey apparently asked people to list their fears. There was no central list of fears offered to participants by the researchers. So what this infamous survey is telling us is that the fear of public speaking is more commonly mentioned by people than the fear of death when people are asked to name their fears. Rather than being more scary. Thats it.

It wasn't great research but it turned out to be a great attention grabber. But can we stop grabbing it - please. Yes, public speaking can be scary, it can stop us doing things, but its not the biggest fear in the world. The fear of public speaking is NOT too big to sort out. We can change our way of thinking about public speaking in a short time. For example I've just got some feedback from someone on last week's course; "I was amazed that the techniques we were taught could deal effectively with the 'fear' symptoms attached to being the centre of attention. I thought that those automatic reactions were far too deeply engrained: happily, I was wrong!

So let us live our lives fully and not hide away because of a poorly reported survey done in 1973.
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Old 29 June 2012, 04:35 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
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While most of us do not wish to die soon. We know that we are going to die some day so it not worth thinking about much. It could be are number one worst fear we are scared of when it is near. Like when someone holds a gun against your head and threatens you.

Now if we are taking about fears that people think about on a daily bases. I'm sure we would get a very diffent list. I can see public speaking high on that list. This does not mean they are more scared of public speaking than dieing. Only that they worry about it more on a day to day basses.

Personally I have never had a problem standing up in front of an audience and taking BS for some time. Public speaking was my easiest collage course I relieved an "A" in.
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Old 29 June 2012, 09:42 AM
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Floater Floater is offline
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Originally Posted by Singing in the Drizzle View Post
Personally I have never had a problem standing up in front of an audience and taking BS for some time.
(Bolding mine) I assume you missed a letter there.
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Old 29 June 2012, 03:33 PM
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Buckle Up Buckle Up is offline
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Actually it was all just a rumor started by the evil liberal pro-Toastmasters agenda.
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Old 06 July 2012, 07:40 PM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
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I know you're joking, Buckle Up, but I just wanted to mention that I recently attended a Toastmasters meeting (I didn't join; it was just held at my place of summer employment so I stayed to help set up chairs and refreshments and clean up afterward) and I think it's a great organization. (If I weren't so busy with school and internships, I would join, even though I'm mostly over my fear of public speaking--we can all use more practice, right?) I highly recommend them to anyone who fears public speaking, even if they fear it substantially less than death.
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Old 30 July 2012, 12:45 PM
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DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
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Originally Posted by Buckle Up View Post
Actually it was all just a rumor started by the evil liberal pro-Toastmasters agenda.
Curses! You found us out! My club was going to have a top secret discussion of this at the next meeting.
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Old 30 July 2012, 01:03 PM
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thorny locust thorny locust is offline
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Originally Posted by johndawson View Post
power-what is the-point-ers.
Can I steal that? please?
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Old 30 July 2012, 02:27 PM
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Phantom Phantom is offline
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I'm a Toastmaster too, and it's not only good for improving speaking, it can also help develop leadership skills. I've heard it looks good on a resume too.

Jooooiiiiin us....
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