Public speaking survey results — How people feel about public speaking and presenting

Maurice DeCastro
7 min readMay 30, 2023

Public speaking survey results — How people feel about public speaking and presenting

How do you feel about public speaking and presenting?

That’s one of the first question’s we ask all of our workshop and coaching clients.

As you may imagine, the response is often very mixed.

In fact, it felt so mixed that we decided to look at the question a little more formally.

With that in mind, we conducted a detailed online survey asking people explicitly how they feel about public speaking and presenting.

Public speaking survey results from over 200 respondents

– Aged 18 to 74

– Across 30 industries and sectors

– From students to senior executives

– All levels of experience

– All genders

We asked everyone 15 questions

– What is your age?

– In which industry/sector do you work?

– What is your location?

– What is your occupation?

– Have you ever had to give a presentation at work or make a public speech?

– Do you enjoy presenting/public speaking?

– Are you good at presenting/public speaking?

– Have you ever felt nervous about presenting to a group of people?

– What makes you the most nervous about presenting to a group?

– Would you like to feel more confident presenting to an audience?

– Do you think being able to present more confidently would help your career?

– What would being a better presenter/public speaker mean to you?

– What is your biggest challenge when presenting:

– When you are being presented to by someone else, what frustrates you the most?

– Have you ever had presentation skills/public speaking training or coaching?

Did you know?

87% of our public speaking survey respondents have had to give a presentation at work at some point or make a public speech.

That didn’t surprise us, as we know that every single day people across the UK and around the world find themselves presenting or speaking publicly to some kind of audience.

The question is, as such a common, ubiquitous activity, how do people really feel about public speaking and presenting?

We are doing it every day, all over the world and I don’t think that many people would argue with the idea that, the ability to communicate effectively and with impact, is one of the most valuable skills in the world today.

Does this suprise you?

23.4% of our survey respondents say they actually enjoy public speaking and presenting, with almost 46% of people enjoying it sometimes.

We found it interesting because only 41% of respondents said they don’t enjoy it, while in our public speaking workshops at least half of each group say quite emphatically that they do not enjoy public speaking or presenting in any form.

Another suprise

We asked over 200 people, ‘are you good at presenting/public speaking?’

It didn’t suprise us that nearly a third of respondents said that they didn’t know. After all, most of us aren’t always given open, constructive feedback after giving a presentation.

26% of people answered, ‘No,’ to the same question.

41% of respondents believe or perhaps have been told that they are good at public speaking and presenting?

Is that your experience at work today?

This may give you comfort

If you feel in anyway nervous or uncomfortable about public speaking and presenting, you’re not alone.

Regardless of age, position, experience or even whether people enjoy public speaking and presenting or believe the are good at it, most people feel nervous about doing it. We asked over 200 people, ‘have you ever felt nervous about presenting to a group of people?’

72.4% of respondents said, ‘yes, most of the time’.

A further 22% of respondents said, ‘very occasionally’.

What makes you the most nervous about presenting to a group?

The top 3 nerve generators were:

1. A fear of being negatively judged

2. Fear of forgetting what to say

3. A fear of being asked a question you don’t know the answer to

If you feel nervous about public speaking and presenting we have a guide you may find helpful.

The list of reasons why people feel nervous about public speaking and presenting is a very long but interesting one.

In addition to the top 3, here are just a few of the many others shared with us through the survey:

– A fear of failure

– Fear of your audience not agreeing with you

– A fear of your audience not liking you

– Fear of not sounding clear or making sense to my audience and pausing too long when I don’t know what to say next

– Social anxiety, autism, not being able to speak, physical sickness from anxiety

– Stumbling when speaking, dry mouth, shaky hands, jelly legs, mind going blank

– Fear of being uninteresting

– Failing to deliver value

– Dyslexia

– Fear of it being obvious in nervous; forgetting to breathe and getting lightheaded!

– Saying the wrong thing

– A fear of stuttering over my words and of people laughing at me

– Fear of not being entertaining

– Not knowing your subject well enough

82% of people

Would you like to feel more confident presenting to an audience?

Most people think it could help their career

61% of our public speaking survey results respondents felt that being able to present more confidently would help their career.

Interestingly, 20% of people didn’t know whether it would help their career and the rest were clear that it wouldn’t.

In a recent article by the editorial team at Indeed.com it was suggested that:

‘Public speaking may help advance your career because it can build your credibility. If you’re speaking at conferences or large events, many people may hear you speak and watch how you present yourself. This may lead them to remember who you are and ask you to speak at other events.’

Here at Mindful Presenter, we have absolutely no doubt that effective public speaking and presentation skills can greatly enhance your career.

In a previous article, I wrote:

‘Today, more than ever, we need to present our ideas with confidence, clarity, presence and impact.

Every day, in businesses across the globe, people sit attentively in the hope that the speaker will tell them something they don’t already know. Mindful presenting equips us to present to audiences in a way they aren’t often connected with.’

It’s most people’s biggest challenge

To understand how people feel about public speaking and presenting our survey asked over 200 people to share their biggest challenges.

The top 3 challenges were:

1. Feeling more confident presenting to a group

2. Removing bad habits that affect your presentation

3. Capturing and holding your audience’s attention

The challenges continue

In order of the next most significant challenges, our respondents told us:

– Leaving your audience with a clear and powerful message

– Answering questions more effectively

– Bringing your presentation to life through stories

– Using visuals effectively

– Making your presentation believable

They presented a number of other challenges

– Connecting with different types of audiences

– Speaking too quickly

– Selling from the stage

– Motivating others

– Getting hot

– Not blushing

– The time it takes to write the slides and practice my approach

– Finding a pre-audience to gauge impact

– Brain fog and losing my train of thought/speech

– Using props or charts or stats

What frustrates you the most?

Sometimes a good way to also understand how people feel about public speaking and presenting is to ask them:

When you are being presented to by someone else, what frustrates you the most?

We did exactly that and the top 3 answers were:

1. Boring content

2. The presenter reading slides

3. Slides filled with text and data

There were many more

The other big frustrations in order of significance were:

– A lack of passion

– Content which is irrelevant to you

– Presenters who haven’t prepared properly and just ‘wing it’

– A presenters lack of knowledge

– Too many bullet points

– Nervous presenters

– Sounding dull or very monotone

– Too long, when it could be shorter and more concise

Most people haven’t had coaching

As you may expect, we wanted to know just how many people had recieved some form of presentation skills/public speaking training or coaching in the past.

60% of respondents said that they hadn’t.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who took the time and trouble to participate in our online survey, we really appreciate it.

We do hope that you’ve found the results of our survey interesting.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on how you feel about public speaking and presenting, please feel free to do so in comments.

In the meantime, here is a slide show of the public speaking survey results :

If you’d like to improve your public speaking and presentation skills

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of Canva.com

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Maurice DeCastro

Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.