In a recent blog post at Corporate Communication Experts titled The Myth of Fearless Public Speaking, Peter Dhu claimed:
“With fear so prevalent and so debilitating do people ever get to a position of fearless public speaking? I personally think not and I think the concept of public speaking with no fear is indeed a myth. Mark Twain said ‘there were two types of speakers; those with nerves and those that were liars’.”
Are there really people who are not afraid at all of public speaking? How might we answer that question? We could ask a random national sample of over a thousand adults how much they feared it and give them a choice of several levels (like Very Afraid, Afraid, Somewhat Afraid, Not Afraid At All). Has something that ever been done? Heck yes!
On December 20, 2016 I blogged about Bursting the overblown claim that 95% of Americans fear public speaking at some level. In that post I included a horizontal bar chart showing results from the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Chapman Survey of American Fears, and 2014 YouGov surveys of both Britain and the U.S. The table shown above list those results for Not Afraid At All, and adds that from the 2017 Chapman Survey. Roughly one or two out of five adults is fearless. (The percentage from the 2017 Chapman survey is 5.5% higher than the average [36.4%] for the other three, and the raw data is no longer available online and therefore perhaps slightly suspect).
The green traffic light was adapted from Wikimedia Commons.-->
Update April 5, 2018
Similarly, in an article titled Get Over Public Speaking Anxiety posted on April 1, 2018 by Barbara Busey at her Presentation Dynamics web site she opened by claiming that:
“The fear of public speaking – whether little butterflies in the stomach or full out panic – is almost a universal experience.”
Perhaps that was an April Fool’s Day joke. Perhaps not.