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Speak for Yourself by Harry Key

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Chapter Nine

Public speaking

There is a common belief that people fear public speaking more than they fear death, which is utter hogwash. The source of this oft-misquoted claim probably comes from a study done in 1973, found in the 1977 edition of The Book of Lists, in which people were surveyed about what they feared most.

Public speaking came in first place with 41 per cent of participants listing it, though they were able to list more than one fear. That was followed by heights, then insects and bugs, financial problems, then deep water, sickness and then death; followed by other fears such as loneliness, dogs and escalators. That doesn’t mean people fear it more than they fear death (to test that idea, perhaps you could hold a gun to someone’s ...

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