Fear Death… Not Public Speaking !!!

It’s often said that the #1 fear of most people is the fear of public speaking.

Jerry Seinfeld made this view popular by his famous quote:

“Most people fear public speaking more than death. Which means at a funeral, the person delivering the eulogy, would like to be in the casket than be speaking.”

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Death is an unfortunate, but unavoidable eventuality as per nature’s law. However, public speaking is different. Anyone can learn the skills required to talk in front of an audience, to convey his/her ideas with clarity and confidence. It is not a natural ability, it’s an acquired ability.

Public speaking is a skill that can be taught. It is a skill that can be learned.

With the right help and guidance, you too can equip yourself to speak clearly, confidently, convincingly to any audience.

However, most people do not realize this fact and often end up sitting in the audience, listening in awe of those, who lead, govern and influence them, into their ways of thinking.

With the help of powerful internet search engines, every person has almost unhindered access to information. In this knowledge economy, where your knowledge determines your edge, you have to speak up to be heard. That is paramount. No, it is not optional anymore. 

  • It equips you to convey your ideas, your thoughts and your views, with clarity and confidence.
  • It equips you to stand a chance to be heard and be recognized for  your knowledge, talent and skills.
  • It equips you to step up, step out and stand out in any group

Warren BuffetWarren Buffet (World’s 2nd richest man) used to be terrified of speaking in front of any audience. Now thousands of people travel thousands of miles every year just to hear him speak.

Why? What changed? 

Buffet spent quality time to learn this life skill.   Buffet was once asked in an interview.

“What habits did you cultivate in your 20s and 30s that you see as the foundation of success?”

Here is what Buffet said

“You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under emphasize that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.


Here is another famous quote from Gerald Ford.

“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” – Gerald R. Ford

Every opportunity you get to speak up, is an opportunity to convey your ideas, to project your expertise, to demonstrate your ability to lead. It opens doors for you in ways you can never imagine.

barack-obamaIn July 2004, Barack Obama got an opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention, like so many others in the past 228 years of American Democracy.

However, Obama’s speech was different.

His speech was well crafted, well delivered and well received. In fact, Obama’s speech was better than John Kerry’s(the Presidential nominee).

That ONE speech catapulted Obama on a trajectory that took him from the backyard of Illinois to the front yard of the White House, to become the 44th President of the United States.

(Ironically, Obama later became John Kerry’s boss!)

How could Obama achieve this?

It was not his pedigree, not his experience, not his background. It was the way he speaks and connects with people. The ONE speech in 2004 boosted his fortunes a in his party. He got invited to speak at other meetings and conventions.

He built his reputation with each subsequent speech.

What is Obama’s biggest secret?

Obama knows the ‘make or break’ potential of every speech.

Every time Obama gets an opportunity to speak, he speaks with the intention of making a lasting impact.

Most people become average speakers or even poor speakers because they do not see the “make or break” importance of speaking up; on stage or off stage; in the office or in the community.

“You go to the hairdresser, not because you can’t cut your hair yourselves. You go because you don’t want to look average, you want to look fabulous. Getting coached for communication and public speaking is like getting a good haircut – it’s an opportunity to look fabulous, not average.” – Manoj Vasudevan

The key point in the article is this. Public Speaking is a skill anyone can learn, if they really want to.

If you find an opportunity to learn this skill the right way, from the right person, don’t wait for the right time.

If you know someone who can benefit from this article, share this article with them using the sharing links below.

What are you views/concerns about the fear of public speaking?

Let us know your views using the comments section below.

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© 2013 – 2015, Manoj Vasudevan. All rights reserved.


  1. I found this post interesting. Last week I had a discussion with a colleague on speakers and speaking professionals. We agreed that many speakers look natural and impressive.

    However my colleague and I differed on whether public speaking is Nature or Nurture.

    Your article supports my view that it is Nurture.

    Plenty of times I have listened to speakers on stage and felt I knew better than them. However I never thought of equipping myself with the skills required to express my views as persuasively as them. In fact, I have always been afraid of public speaking.

    Now it occurs to me that my fear of public speaking, stems from my ignorance and hence the feeling of inadequacy.

    Thanks for the provocative inspiration 🙂
    I have shared this article with my team.

  2. Thanks David. Glad you liked it.
    Almost everyone starts out with a fear of public speaking.
    However, based on my experience, both in speaking and coaching, I have come to the conclusion that speaking is 10% talent and 90% techniques.