Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Public Speaking

According to Google, fear of speaking in public is the most common fear among people, weighing in at number one, ahead of death at number 5 and loneliness at number 7. Supposedly, we're afraid of not having the right words to say, afraid we'll do something foolish. I guess I skipped that one, though.

I don't recall much about my childhood, but recently I was reminded that at an early age (probably six or seven) I attended some classes in "Expression." Looking back on it, these were probably aimed at getting a rather shy and introverted child comfortable with appearing before others. As I recall, I gave a few "canned" speeches (at the time called "Declamation") and subsequently sang, along with three other kids my own age. This group must have either been fairly good or the only ones who would do it, since I recall singing before the local Lions Club and a time or two at school activities.

As an adult, I didn't really fear public speaking. As a physician, as a solo practitioner and later a medical school professor, I lectured all over the world. Matter of fact, when I remarried after the death of my first wife, our honeymoon was spent in Singapore and Thailand, where I was scheduled to deliver lectures.  When God sort of pushed me into non-medical writing, I taught at a number of writing conferences. I don't think that during it all I had any anxious moments due to public speaking. I don't know whether to give the credit to knowledge of my subject matter, God's grace for the moment, or my early Expression experiences. But at least I've avoided the number one fear of most people.

How about you? Are you more afraid of public speaking than of other things--including death and loneliness? I'd like to hear your stories.

Tweet with a single click. "Fear of public speaking is the most common fear. Is it yours?"


9 comments:

Elise Griffith said...

Maybe I'm odd in that I'm far less afraid of public speaking than I am of going to my husband's office parties. I get almost panicked at being in small groups of people I don't know. It makes finding new churches a real challenge when we've moved. And just to complicate matters, my number one fear is being all alone as an old woman.

Richard Mabry said...

Interesting fear, Elise. That sort of agoraphobia hits many authors when they have to face crowds at signings, writers conferences, etc. Your fear of dying alone is one of the top ten fears, as well--interesting that it's number one for you. Thanks for your comment, and blessings on you.

Elise Griffith said...

It's more about being alone than dying alone. As the 3rd of 4 children, I've never been completely alone, even at Bible college when I had 2 roommates. Then I moved back home until I married. The possibility of being an elderly woman all alone is frightening. And I know one is never alone with God, but He isn't sitting at the table sharing a meal, telling me I look nice today, or physically helping out when I'm sick. That sort of thing.

Patricia Bradley said...

I'm with you, Richard. I have no idea, but I'm not afraid to speak publically. Could be that after I spent years talking about sex to teenagers, I'm really not afraid of anything. lol

Richard Mabry said...

If I'd had to talk with teen-agers about sex, I don't think anything else would bother me--at least, not in the realm of speaking. Thanks for your comment, Patricia.

Carol Garvin said...

I have moderate claustrophobia and that rears its head occasionally when I suddenly end up in confined spaces or crowded rooms without enough time to get myself psyched up for it. I'm also very much an introvert, but as a pastor's wife there have been many times when I've had to put on a bold facade and do something out of my comfort zone. On short notice one time I ended up being the substitute speaker at a CGIT (girls) conference . I had no idea what to say, had no idea what I actually said, but had appealed to God and he apparently gave me words that some in the audience found meaningful. God is good that way. :)

Richard Mabry said...

Carol, I was amazed, as I got to know some of my fellow writers, how many are introverts.

My wife (the second blessing God gave me after the death of my first wife) spent many years as a pastor's wife, and it's amazing how often she was called upon to play the piano or organ, sing, or teach a SS class. These are things none of us "volunteer" for, but they sort of go with the territory. Thanks for your comment.

Priscilla said...

I had no idea public speaking was such a common fear. It's not mine. I fear bees and all flying, stinging things. Wouldn't you know it: OUR HOUSE is the one in the neighborhood where the wasps keep wanting to build nests! I fear crowded situations and don't participate in large activities (like a popular 10k run) because of it. I think it's claustrophobia, I'm not sure, but I don't like sitting in a plane for too long . . . eh, maybe that's part of the crowded situations thing.

Yes, Elise has an interesting fear. We complain about social media, but one useful thing is being able to reach out on the Internet to find people with whom to chat. No, it's not like having someone at your dinner table, but it is interactive.

Richard Mabry said...

Interesting to see how many of us have some form of agoraphobia or, at least, introversion.

As for flying, stinging things, I think that's a reasonable fear. Four of us used to go annually to a cabin in East Texas for a golf weekend, and we had to sweep up the dead wasps and shoo out the live ones. The things we do, sometime. Thanks for your comment.