Most of us have heard about a study that claims public speaking is our number one fear.Jerry Seinfeld even made a joke out of it, noting that if fear of public speaking was number one, and death was lower down the list, it meant that people would rather die than give the eulogy at the funeral.
Now comes a study – surveying Americans – to check up on those fears. Is public speaking still number one?
The answers may surprise you a little. We public speakers can no longer proudly (or cravenly) point to public speaking as fear no. 1. Alas, it has dropped to number five.
Here’s the list:
1. Walking alone at night.
2. Becoming the victim of identity theft.
3. Safety on the internet.
4. Being the victim of a mass/random shooting.
5. Public speaking.
I find the list fascinating because two of the four greater fears – the ones that have displaced public speaking – are online-created fears. And I suspect that fear no. 4 is largely a media-generated fear, since – and I know you’re going to find this hard to believe – the odds of you dying from a random shooting have actually gone down in the last 20 years, not up.