The Fear of Public Speaking Is How Common?
Statistics estimate that 75% of the population has a fear of public speaking and experience physical discomfort at the thought, with some people going to great lengths to avoid it. I believe these numbers and feel that almost everyone experiences some anxiety and discomfort when having to speak in front of a group. While some stress is healthy and needed (ie: having deadlines, responsibilities, etc) when it comes to speaking in public, the line between useful stress and levels that lead to avoidance is quickly crossed. When this occurs, it becomes a problem because we are social beings and need to communicate in our daily lives.
I attended a Child & Youth Mental Health conference last week and during a workshop, a Ph.D student was presenting her research. The findings were impressive and the information would bring tremendous comfort to many families, but I was distracted by her overwhelming fear of public speaking. While I may be more observant of this behaviour given my field of expertise, I began feeling bad for her as she had a death grip on her notes, spoke fast and monotone, kept cracking her knuckles, and her neck began forming what looked like a stress rash.
Three Reasons This Was Sad:
1. She was clearly in discomfort and felt overwhelmed being the centre of attention, I was actually feeling her nervousness.
2. Her findings were significant and I wondered if this fear of public speaking would cause information to not be shared because of having to present it.
3. This would likely reaffirm her fear of public speaking and without coaching or guidance, she may avoid future public speaking opportunities. This may cause her to miss future promotions and employment opportunities.
How many people have messages or findings that would greatly assist others to live a more fulfilled life, but don’t share because that would involve speaking in public. This robs the person of the joy that comes with sharing their work and the people that would benefit from the knowledge they have.
Message Of Hope:
If you struggle with speaking in public, remember that you are not alone and there are effective strategies that will assist you to become comfortable speaking in public and able to harness your knowledge to benefit the world.