Monday, March 27

Morbid Fear - Public Speaking

Don't you think it a tad strange that most people have a fear of speaking before a group of people, even people whom the speaker knows quite well?

Public speaking is much like dancing in public. People who are unsure of what they are doing feel somewhat self-conscious about the given act; thus an inner fear is created and stagnates any attempts for success.

Fear is expressed by most public speakers when they are first beginning their long journey in learning the techniques set down by groups such as Toastmasters International. For instance, I recently came across a statement made in a forum about public speaking wherein a member related his fears: "I absolutely loathe public speaking. I have given many, many speeches, it doesn't matter how well I know the material, my heart still beats like it is about to come through my chest." Do these words ring a bell?

My daughter expressed that she could not even get up before a crowd and simply state her name; her "legs would give out," she said.

She too is not alone. In fact, this past weekend Scott McKay, the Toastmaster for the Area 10 Speech Contests, held in Sarnia, Ontario stated that he remembers a time when he was in a contest giving a speech and part way through his speech he froze. Of course he picked it up and finished his speech. But Scott explained the reason this happened was that he had memorized his speech. He learned a valuable lesson and now he gives speeches with guidelines to help him along and does not rely on a word-for-word printout of the entire speech.

As one moves along through the fearful stages of public speaking, somewhere along the way one picks up confidence, although this does not happen overnight.

In fact, losing the fear and gaining confidence only comes with time well spent practicing. In a recent article posted by Toastmasters International in their magazine to members, Dena Harris, CTM, "Speak every chance you get." Harris goes on to say that "You must believe in your speaking abilities before you'll convince others to see you as a speaker."

Sigmund Freud blamed our fear of public speaking on his theory of "infantile behaviour" in that we were born naked and helpless, thus we feel this sense of dread when we are exposed in public, a sense of panic sets in.

Although, Alfred Alder, the Austrian psychiatrist has a different approach to this dilemma, wherein he believed there existed in us all an "inferiority complex" we "present" our being before others, "we stand." "We empower them, but at the same time we disempower ourselves. We elevate them as we lower our sense of self. This projection leaves us feeling uneasy, uncanny, and vulnerable" (John Robert Columbo,

According to a 2001 Gallup poll "40% of adults have a fear of public speaking. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy" (

For those who want to rid themselves of this morbid fear of speaking in public, many suggest that you join a local Toastmasters club and learn away your fear.

Check out: for a great Toastmasters club where you will learn the art of public speaking and lose that morbid fear forever.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home