Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Are impromptu talks really the most frightening type of public speaking?
For a post in the Leadership Institute blog on October 30th Rick Highsmith began by stating:
“Public speaking is recognized as the Number 1 fear of adults in The Book of Lists. Assuming that’s true where would impromptu public speaking rank? Even when we have prepared thoroughly, speaking to an audience provokes anxiety. So what is the factor of increase in anxiety when we have to speak with little or no preparation?”
I am not sure whether he was asking if impromptu speaking makes more people anxious, or if it makes people more anxious. Two published surveys have looked at whether more people are anxious about one type of impromptu speaking, and found that they were not. I already discussed both of them last year.
In a US survey “public speaking/performance” was feared by 21.2%, while “speaking up in a meeting/class” was feared by 19.5%. In a Canadian survey “giving a speech or speaking in public” was feared by 15.1%, while “taking part or speaking in a meeting or class” was feared by 14.4%.
While impromptu speaking is different than doing a prepared speech, it does not make more people anxious.