I’m always amazed at what paying just a little attention to the world around you will reveal.  Even in a world as mysterious as speaking, you can learn a lot from reading.  So I took a break from writing this month to just cull the source of all knowledge – the Internet – and find out what you can learn just by reading.  I found these news stories that I think will be of interest to you.

Man chooses death over public speaking

An engineer walking to work at a downtown Chicago firm was kidnapped by a knife-wielding gang member yesterday and given a strange ultimatum.  He was ordered to follow the perpetrator to a

Glossophobia word defined in dictionary showing the dfinition as a fear of public speaking or stage fright

town hall meeting and give a presentation.  The engineer, a life-long sufferer of glossophobia, pleaded for his life, but the young punk was unyielding.  Facing the ultimate decision in life, the engineer refused the request, and was stabbed seven times and left for dead in a Southside alley.  A rival gang discovered his body and turned it over to an apparent homeless man walking by, who happened to be an undercover police officer.  Upon arrival of the medical staff by ambulance, the 47-year-old man was declared dead, but snapped awake when the attending physician declared, “Well, we can leave now.”  The victim is expected to make a full recovery, and was offered a free public speaking workshop by renowned firm MillsWyck Communications to prevent this from ever happening again.

Humans eschew audio, read clues from body language for 93% understanding

Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that the average human does not listen to the spoken word of presenters and instead relies on the clues from the body language and tone of the presenter to garner information.  In a preliminary study at the School for the Deaf in Fresno, CA, it was discovered that 93% of all information came from what the listener observed in the speaker.  The scientists believe this is applies to all human communication, and that in a generation’s time, humans will not need to speak at all in order to be understood.

Pill developed to eliminate filler words from speech

Researchers at Duke University announced this week that they have developed a pill that eliminates filler words from a presenter’s speech.  The pill, developed in conjunction with social and communication experts at the school, numbs the vocal cords and causes the uvula to wobble at a frequency that counteracts the sound of words like “um” and “uh”.  Preliminary studies have shown that the average patient reduces his non-words from the standard 11.9 to only 2.9 non-words per minute.  The pill – to be marketed under the trade name “Umuless” – will be especially well received by salespersons, politicians, and husbands whose wives ask them if their dress makes them look fat.

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April Fools!

These made-up Internet stories prove only one thing: you can’t believe everything you read, and a fact’s believability has very little to do with whether it is true.  April Fool’s Day is my kids’ favorite day of the year.  They delight in making up wild stories and “gotchas” to prank on an unsuspecting father. They think it’s hilarious that any fabrication is OK to say on April Fools’ Day.2016.04.AprilFoolCharacter

If you’re still reading, perhaps you would care to know:

  • The fear of public speaking is NOT greater than a fear of death (no reports of people choosing death over speaking have ever been recorded), although perhaps MORE people fear speaking than death.
  • If 93% of communication were non-verbal, sign language would be the universal language adopted everywhere. This is an oft-misquoted study by Albert Mehrabian that addresses emotional messages where there is a conflict in what is communicated.  In such cases, people believe the non-verbal clues more than the what is said, according to Dr. Mehrabian.
  • There are no short-cuts, secrets, or easy ways to be a great speaker. But anyone can become a competent communicator, and we regularly guide even the most mundane speakers to be effective and inspiring.  And we reveal precious few secrets – just well-tested and proven methods for practicing the skills that make a difference.

Communication matters.  What are you saying?

This article was published in the April 2016 edition of our monthly speaking tips email, Communication Matters.  Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today and receive our FREE download, “Twelve Tips that will Save You from Making a Bad Presentation.”  You can unsubscribe at any time.