It just may be you!
At last we may know why public speaking always ranks near the top of the “most feared” lists—it’s really a fear of being eaten!
Yes, believe it or not, when we’re standing up there in front of an audience, palms sweating, mouth dry, mind going blank, and face flushed, it all boils down to a primordial fear of being the main course (and the audience thought the rubber chicken was going to be bad).
I didn’t make this up. Recently I ran across an article on the fear of public speaking that cited Mary Fensholt, the author of The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It. In her book, she states that “The fear of public speaking or performing is more than anything a fear of being eaten.”
Her argument is built on the theories of sociobiologists who believe that humans developed a fear response to calling attention to themselves outside the group. Why? Because predators routinely scrutinize, size up and single out their prey. When we’re in this situation, we go into “fight or flight” mode. This is when the body shuts down all unnecessary systems and focuses all its attention on the systems we need to fight off or flee the predator.
Fensholt takes this one step further and applies it to having all eyes on us when we’re the main attraction as the speaker. The symptoms of the “fight or flight” response are similar to the sweaty palms, trembly, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that overtake us when we’re standing in front of an audience feeling vulnerable and exposed. Main attraction . . . main course . . . I guess I can make the jump in logic.
So, bringing this back around to business . . . as business owners, we’re front and center stage in our companies every day. All eyes are on us and on the decisions we make. How many of us at one time or another have exclaimed, “I feel like I’m being eaten alive!” The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with everyone who wants a piece of you, just be glad that with everything you have on your plate, you really won’t end up on someone else’s plate at the end of the day.