What frightens you more? Public speaking or huge dogs?

 

Newman!
Newman!

This dog was a pup in this picture still and even smaller when my wife first started watching him. Should you be afraid of him? Probably only of getting knocked over. He’s a sweetheart but like all big dogs I’ve ever known he doesn’t realize how large he is.

Let’s start with a joke. Well, technically this isn’t starting, because I gave you one paragraph about Newman. But let’s not quibble. The joke, from Jerry Seinfeld:

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

This site doesn’t dismiss the funniness of Seinfeld’s joke, but says that perception is not quite accurate. Because, really, would people rather die than speak in public? No. It’s just that speaking in public is something that is more likely to happen to you than death, which for most of us only happens once. So you don’t go around fearing that someone is going to kill you. Instead you’re afraid some mugger is going to come up to you on the street and force you to give an Amway presentation.

Here’s the thing; the fear of public speaking is something we can all overcome, mostly by doing it. Years ago I decided that I wanted to be good at public speaking, so I took nearly every opportunity I could to practice speaking in front of an audience. For years I had this issue when I first started, that for the first 30 seconds I was so nervous I had trouble breathing. Once I got through that, I was fine. So I figured out a way to make it through that brief period until I was breathing normally again, and then I would continue on with my speech. Now I don’t have that 30 seconds of oxygen deprivation anymore. 

So if you like the idea of telling your story, but you’re afraid your nervousness is something that paralyzes you , take comfort in knowing that you can overcome this. I have only ever seen one person die from giving a speech, so the odds of it happening to you are pretty slim.

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