By now, you’ve read Lecture 3 – The Fear of Public Speaking. If you haven’t, please do so before proceeding with this discussion question.

What scares you about public speaking? What do you think about the night before the big speech? What goes through your mind at the moment just before you begin to speak? By recognizing and discussing some of our fears of public speaking, we’ll put ourselves on a path to overcome those anxieties. We’ll touch on this subject a bit down the road, but for now, let’s open the dialogue with a discussion about our personal fears of public speaking.

The Fear of Public Speaking

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” — Jerry Seinfeld, comedian

What is it about public speaking that sends chills down our spines? The causes of glossophobia (public speaking anxiety) have long been studied, and although no single cause has been identified as the key culprit, studies have repeatedly shown that more people are afraid of public speaking than death. Consider the following statistics:

The Top 10 Global Fears are:

  1. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia)
  2. Fear of death (Necrophobia)
  3. Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia)
  4. Fear of darkness (Achluophobia)
  5. Fear of heights (Acrophobia)
  6. Fear of people or social situations (Sociophobia)
  7. Fear of flying (Aerophobia)
  8. Fear of open spaces (Agoraphobia)
  9. Fear of thunder and lightning (Brontophobia)
  10. Fear of confined spaces (Claustrophobia)

Research has proven that a fear of public speaking can have negative effects on careers, and hinder success if not addressed.

Three out of four individuals across the world suffer from speech anxiety. Simply put, 75 percent of all humans fear public speaking.

Up to five percent of the world’s population (hundreds of millions of people) experience glossophobic symptoms in a given year.

Some studies have found that a larger percentage of females suffer from speech anxiety related problems.

More men than women seek treatment to cure fear of public speaking through means like hypnosis therapy, beta-blockers or self-help literature.

Social phobias often start with shyness in childhood or early adolescence, and progress during maturation, according to scientific studies on fears of public speaking.

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