Friday, July 22, 2016

Would three out of four people rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy?

Not really! Recently I have blogged about how a famous quotation by Jerry Seinfeld comparing the fears of public speaking and death was instead attributed to three other men - Woody Allen, Jay Leno, or Jerry Springer. Yesterday there was yet another fantasy version at The Long Distance Internet Entrepreneur. Phil Thomson blogged about Helping to reduce the fear of business presentations. His mixup of what Jerry said could be called something like Three Out of Four Would Prefer the Casket to the Eulogy. It began like this:   

“For those of us of a certain age, the USA comedy series Seinfeld holds a special place in our hearts. For many years in ran second to Friends in the US ratings, the only fundamental difference being that Seinfeld was much funnier. One particular episode stands out in my memory, when Jerry Seinfeld and friends were sadly attending a funeral. The subject of peoples’ greatest fears came up in conversation and specifically where death itself was ranked compared with having to speak in public. Sienfeld’s comment was something on the lines of ‘So what you are saying is that three out of four people in the church now would rather be in the casket that having to give the eulogy’.

This apparently jokey comment seems however to be based on fact. After flying, speaking in public comes in a strong second place ahead of spiders, the dark and yes even death. Until recently I had no idea that there was even a specific catch-all name for the physical sensations we go through before and during public speaking. It is called Glossophobia (from the Latin word Glossa meaning tongue) and it covers everything from dry mouth and weak voice to sweating and elevated blood pressure.”

Back on February 3, 2014 I blogged about Busting a myth - that 75% of people in the world fear public speaking. So, the 3 out out 4 isn’t really fact based. Neither is the Statistic Brain version with 74%.

Also, in last year’s second Chapman Survey of American Fears, speaking in public didn’t come second. It came 26th out of 89 fears, and on the average people were only slightly afraid of it. See my October 29, 2015 blog post titled: According to the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of federal government Corruption and only Slightly Afraid of Public Speaking.

Glossophobia is a pseudo-technical term that won’t lead you to the best information about speech anxiety.

The old man writing in a casket was modified from Wellcome Images.

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