Sunday, April 15, 2018

Three out of five public speaking ‘statistics’ that are shockingly off the mark

On March 30, 2018 at Ethos3 Kelly Allison blogged about 5 Shocking Public Speaking Statistics, and opened by claiming:

“There’s a lot of misinformation and false statistics floating around out there with regard to public speaking and specifically public speaking fear (AKA glossophobia). For instance, maybe you’ve seen the ever-prevalent stat that 75% of people have a deep fear of it? Well, turns out that’s not even close to true. We did our homework and found some stats that are actually true. Below you will discover our findings.”

But she didn’t really do her homework (dig all the way down to primary sources), so her first three are way off the mark. (I knew they were nonsense, but have not bothered to chase down the other two). Their first two are that Fear of public speaking cuts wages by 10% and Fear of public speaking inhibits promotion to management by 15%. She linked to Peter Khoury’s awful December 13, 2016 blog post at Magnetic Speaking titled 7 Unbelievable “Fear of Public Speaking” Statistics (which talks about the 75%). Two days later I had blogged about it in a post titled Believable and unbelievable statistics about fears and phobias of public speaking. Mr. Khoury claimed both percentages came from a publication at Columbia University, but it just had mentioned those results in the 13th slide, and actually referred to a magazine article by Daniel Katzelnick et al titled Impact of Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder in Managed Care which had appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry, December 2001, pages 1999 to 2007. But that article never ever uses the words public, speaking, or fear. As the title says, it really is about social phobia which is a broader topic than public speaking but apples to a higher level of fear. On page 2003 it  says that:

“…generalized social anxiety disorder is associated with 10% lower wages”

….and a 14-percentage point lower probability of being in a managerial, technical, or professional occupation.”

The third ‘statistic’ claims that your delivery matters more than your content. Specifically: 

Studies suggest that effective presentations are 38% your voice, 55% non-verbal communication, and only 7% your content.
That commonly is known as the Mehrabian myth. I blogged about it back on July 25, 2009 in a post titled Bullfighting the Mehrabian myth and again on September 15, 2010 in another post titled If the Mehrabian myth was true.

The astonished monkey cartoon came from Openclipart.

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