UK bosses scared of public speaking

52% of UK executives find excuses to avoid speaking in public. Good job they've got other skills...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 14 Oct 2011
And it turns out that age and gender both play a huge part in how confident you are. According to a survey by communications consultancy the Aziz Corporation, 57% of men under the age of 35 see themselves as unconfident speakers, compared with only 46% of women in that age bracket. But after 35, 72% of men see themselves as being confident at it, compared with just 50% of women. We’re not sure what suddenly happens to a bloke at that age to make such a difference – perhaps there’s something in an expanding waistline and rapidly retreating hairline that makes a man realise he no longer has anything to lose.
But they’re not all like that. If you’ve found yourself spending much of your time cowering behind your monitor while your boss stomps round the office, punching photocopiers and slating people’s work ethic, then you may have stumbled upon the reason: public speaking makes 41% of execs constantly irritable and causes 42% to lose their sense of humour. Meanwhile 40% lose their appetite, with nearly half suffering from insomnia. Bear that in mind next time a big presentation approaches. It will be a terrible time to ask for a raise, but perhaps the perfect time to insert risqué photographs into their PowerPoint presentation and see what happens.
Of course, while bosses may be lacking confidence in speaking, they wouldn’t have reached the top if they didn’t possess other winning traits – as can be seen in the range of excuses they use to avoid their speaking commitments. Top methods are pretending to be unavailable on the day in question; passing the request to a colleague; offering it as a chance for younger staff to get their face out there; or claiming not to know anything about the subject in the first place. While you have to question what’s wrong with our top dogs – surely they should have generated a thicker skin than that by now – you have to admire their manoeuvrings. Like they say in the army, never volunteer for anything…

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