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An interesting take on Fear of Presentations after I was interviewed by a business magazine in Kazakhstan. Here’s the translation from the Russian:

The Silence of the Fish


You wouldn’t think it, but when it comes to public appearances, many top-level executives, the “capitalist sharks” themselves, prefer to wheedle their way out of it – no better than the wise and ill-fated gudgeon fish. This conclusion has been drawn by the British consultation firm The Aziz Corporation.

The majority of British executives (52%) are prime examples of this– instead of preparing for public appearances, they’re normally looking for ways to get out of them.

The tricks and excuses they use are basically these: Gentlemen either pretend they’re busy with that day’s priorities, or delegate the “big mission” to younger colleagues. Or they just flat out refuse, saying it’s not within their competence.

What’s particularly interesting about The Aziz Corporation’s study is that, even at the planning stage, willingness to make an appearance before the public largely depends on our age and gender. Men under 35 tend to be more irritable about it than women; but when it comes to self-confidence, in that age range 57% of men have enough of it, but only 46% of women do. However, past the 35-year mark, the figures change – 72% of men gain confidence, compared to only 50% of women.

In the lead up to a presentation, those responsible for it suffer from the serious physical and emotional complications of stress. For example, several days before a presentation, around 40% of the British executives who took the survey complained that they lose their appetite, and half of these people suffer from insomnia as well. The most common symptoms include constant irritability (41%), a weakened sense of humour (42%), a feeling of inability to deal with the current situation (35%), and always being tired (28%).

The chairman of The Aziz Corporation, Professor Khalid Aziz, comments: “It’s a real tragedy for British business. The majority of intelligent executives suffer a really deep, pathological fear of public appearances. When there’s help available to all those who doubt themselves, it’s a shame that many either don’t know about it, or won’t admit to themselves that they need it, so they just kill time instead of getting appropriate training.”

In Kazakhstan we see a picture of self-doubt among those in positions of power similar to that in Britain, according to an experiment offering help to clients from the management, oil and gas sectors. It seems fear of public appearances is universal, wherever you are in the world.