presenting nerves

The Fear of Public Speaking? It’s a Dangerous Myth!

In Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun, the author shares one fact that I have to share with you, because it’s vital for anyone who might suffer from a fear of public speaking.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Fear of Public Speaking MythI recently read a book by Scott Berkun called Confessions of a Public Speaker.

Overall, it’s pretty good, I enjoyed it.

But I thought I’d share this little fact with you that the author discusses that I couldn’t agree more with in relation to speaking in public.

I’m sure you’ve heard or read this fact about public speaking, it goes something like this:

Did you know that people would rather die that speak in public?


So where has this popular fact come from?

Because I have to say that, personally, I’ve not heard of anyone taking their own life, jumping off a building or leaving a suicide note based on an upcoming presentation!

So where has this popular fact come from?

Well the source is a trivia book “Book of Lists” by David Wallechinksy.

It includes a list of things that people were afraid of.

The Top 10 List of “Worst Human Fears”

  1. Speaking in public 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

The problem? The fear of public speaking is a complete myth

So how do we know it’s a myth?

Firstly, let’s start with the research process itself.

The research carried out by a team of market researchers who asked 3000 Americans a simple question.

What are you most afraid of?

They allowed them to write down as many answers as they wanted. There was no list to pick from, so the survey data was far from scientific.

Secondly, no information was provided about who these people were.

Therefore we have no way of knowing if these people were representative of the rest of us.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 10

If you look at the list above – heights, deep water, death, sickness and flying –  it’s probably safe to say that death should feature in the Number 1 spot!

The reality is that facts about the fear of speaking in public are often misleading because they are often quoted from people selling a service or product.

Most fear of public speaking comes from the fact that the speaker is selling something.

In addition, another factor is the frequency of the fear.

The truth is that when faced with a question like this, people tend to list fears of minor things they encounter in everyday life much more often than more fearsome but abstract experiences like dying.

After all, no-one has ever died and lived to tell the fearful story, but we often experience fear, stress and anxiety in everyday situations—such as peering over a steep cliff, or finding a massive spider in the bath, or the fear of public speaking.

And the outcome is that because these are fairly normal, regular occurrences that happen to most of us at least occasionally, our anxiety levels only increase the next time we have to experience that thing.


No-one has died from giving a bad presentation!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056


Enjoyed this post? Here are two more blogs about the fear of public speaking and other performance anxiety

ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.

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