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Home » Nerve Center

Rutgers Student Stumps Me….. almost

Why are people so fearful of speaking?  Jeremy, a student at Rutgers, phoned and asked me this question for a class research paper.  I have to admit that I paused for a while.  In all my years of training, no one asked me this very simple question.  I explained that I did not have any research to back up my hunch…. But here goes:

 I think it’s all about judgment and peer pressure.  Little kids in Kindergarten do not seem to have a fear of speaking in front of their class for show-and-tell.  A five-year old will freely talk about the new underwear he or she received for a birthday present.  A first-grader will happily get up in front of the room and tell the story of losing a tooth.  But then something happens….. I’m guessing 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.  Kids start caring about what others think – they worry about how others judge them.  Peer pressure kicks in.  I think that’s the magic moment when fear of speaking begins. 


….. fast forward to the adult speaker/presenter….Most presenters feel as though they are being judged, and they are worried about making mistakes.  They are fearful of fumbling in front of their peers or the audience.  On the other hand, people who have no fear (or at least very little fear) of speaking are confident in their own ability and focused on how the audience is going to benefit from the presentation.


No-Choke Point:  Realize that speaking and presenting is not that big of a deal.  Compared to your health and world peace, it is insignificant.  Put it in perspective. You know more about your topic than anyone in the room – you are the expert.  People are there to hear what you have to say and will learn something, do something, buy something, or change something as a result of listening to you.  Also, by the way, everyone in the audience is probably really happy that it is you standing in front of the room and not him or her.

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