Public Speaking Myths to
Clear Up Right Now
Myth #1 - FEAR=“False Evidence Appearing Real”
Many of us have heard that the
word FEAR is really nothing more than an acronym for “False
Evidence Appearing Real.” Many
motivational speakers and personal development-types use
this definition to remind us that the things we fear the
most are usually not worthy of the emotional baggage we
tend to attach to them.
I believe this definition of the
word FEAR holds merit in the business of day to day
living. You have probably been in situations where you
create the worst-case scenario in your head and project
that scenario as the most probable outcome of the
situation. Then you attach the associated emotional
baggage to that outcome and let that baggage drive the
way you respond to the other things that happen in your
When the situation does finally
resolve itself, you discover the scenario you created in
your mind did not materialize. The outcome was not
nearly as bad as you anticipated. Certainly, it was not
worthy of the emotional baggage you attached to it.
Worse still, you were living your life based on a
scenario that never evolved. For that entire time, your
life was driven by the emotional baggage that was
attached to an outcome based on false evidence that
only appeared to be real.
There are situations, however,
when fear isn’t based on false evidence that only
appears to be real. Worst-case scenarios may be the most
likely outcome at times. That outcome is worthy of the
emotional baggage we may attach to it and is based on a
different “FEAR,” namely, “Factual Evidence that’s
Let’s consider a soldier in the
streets of a war-torn city who is sent to the location
of an explosive device. His job is to disarm that bomb.
It doesn’t take much imagination to determine the
worst-case scenario here. I’m sure most soldiers in this
situation would agree that a possible outcome is likely
to be a worst-case scenario, and that outcome is worthy
of all the emotional baggage a soldier might attach to
it. Now, if that soldier treats the bomb as false
evidence that only appears to be real, well, I suspect
that’s a mistake that would only be made once.
There are some people who
consider the endeavor of public speaking isn’t quite as
dangerous as disarming a live bomb. I would tend to
agree. However, I can tell you that I have seen many
presentations blow up in the speaker’s face, and the
results can be devastating.
You may have heard that the fear
of speaking in public is greater than the fear of death.
I have never seen actual studies to support that claim.
While it may well be that, statistically, most people
would rather die than speak in public, I believe that
most of us would agree that the fear of speaking in
public is a substantial
fear. Actually, most of us share
this fear with varying degrees of intensity.
So, what is it that most people
are afraid of when it comes to speaking in public? When
I ask my students this question, the most common replies
What if I forget my words and look
What if my audience doesn’t like me?
What if my audience doesn’t believe me?
What if I say the wrong thing and offend
What if my audience judges me or
What if everything goes wrong?
Essentially, the fear of speaking
in public boils down to the fear of losing one’s
self-image, reputation and credibility.
Here’s the truth about speaking
in public: Every time you stand in front of an audience,
your credibility, reputation and, thus your self-image,
are on the line. Chances are high that you will forget
something you had planned to say. It’s highly possible
that you will do or say something to offend people or,
at the very least, cause them to disagree with you. Not
everyone will believe you and most likely something will
Why do I make this point? Because
if you, as a speaker, treat the fear of speaking as
“false evidence only appearing to be real,” you will be
less likely to put forth the effort required to reduce
the likelihood of the worst-case scenario becoming the
actual outcome. Your chances of incurring damage to your
reputation, credibility and image become, in fact, very
The fear of public speaking isn’t
based on false evidence that only appears to be real,
but it’s based on Factual Evidence that’s Absolutely
The good news is that you hold in
your hands the means by which you can substantially
reduce the likelihood of the worst-case scenario
manifesting itself into the probable outcome. In fact,
by using the lessons in this book, the more likely
outcome of your speaking endeavors will be to greatly
enhance your reputation, credibility and thus, your
What’s the lesson? The
consequences of speaking poorly are real. Know the
perils; respect the perils and prepare for the perils.