Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The 10 Worst Tips To Give Someone Who Has To Speak In Public

The 10 Worst Tips To Give Someone Who Has To Speak In Public

By: Alan Matthews

1. Learn the speech by heart or read it from a script.

This is meant to be a way of making sure you don’t forget what you’re going to say. Instead, it’s usually a way of making sure you don’t connect with your audience.

Most people who use a script end up reading it out and, unless you’re a professional actor or a very experienced speaker, this will come across as unnatural and stilted and it will stop you looking at your audience.

If you try to memorise a script, you may find you are under even more pressure to remember what you want to say because, if you go off the script, there’s no way back.

It’s better to prepare some notes which can be a guide should you need one. By the time you’ve prepared the speech, you will know the main areas you want to cover. Put these down as

headings on paper or cards in LARGE PRINT so you can see them when you’re standing up. You may then only need a couple of key words to add to these to remind you of the main points you want

to make in each area.

If you need more than this, you may be trying to cover too much information. You may also think of a couple of really good ways of saying something, or a good story to use to illustrate a point. Jot these down so you don’t forget.

2. Rehearse in front of a mirror.

This may be a bit controversial because I know several books and trainers give this tip. All I can say is I have never found I could do this.

I do rehearse ( sometimes ) and sometimes I tape myself to hear what it sounds like. But I can’t watch myself in a mirror and think about what I’m saying, it’s just too distracting. If you want to see what you look like, ask someone to watch you or use a video camera. However, don’t get bogged down with worrying about how you look.

The main purpose of rehearsing is to reinforce the talk in your memory, check how long it takes and help you spot those areas where what you want to say doesn’t sound right or where you might get confused. Then you can think of some effective phrases to use to help get your point across. You can do this without a mirror.

3. Use plenty of slides.

This is sometimes offered as a ‘ tip ‘ for taking attention from yourself. Give the audience something else to look at. Another tip is to give them a hefty handout at the start so they have

something to read.

The problem is - YOU should be the centre of attention. People want to hear what you’ve got to say and the best way to communicate your message is by speaking effectively. By all means use visual aids if they will help but they should complement what you’re saying, not just reproduce your own

notes.

Similarly with handouts, they can be very helpful but you need to know why you are using them. If they have backup information, give them out at the end. If they contain some key ideas you want to refer to as you go along, give them out at the start, but make sure they don’t distract people from what you are saying.

Let’s be honest – if you’re that concerned about getting out of the spotlight, you shouldn’t be doing this in the first place.

4. Wear a cartoon tie to show you have a sense of humour.

This is linked to a couple of the other ‘ tips ‘ which are meant to give you a helping hand in getting the audience on your side. Wearing a funny tie is saying “Look, I’m really a nice guy. Give me a chance”.

I won’t go into detail here for fear of alienating all of you who might, even now, be wearing such attire, but I have to say, that’s NOT what most people think when they see someone wearing a cartoon tie.

In terms of dress, wear something you feel comfortable in and which seems appropriate. That’s a bit vague, but it depends on your audience. The usual approach is to dress slightly smarter than you expect the audience to dress. Too much of a difference between you and them can cause problems with credibility. Just think about the impression you want to give and, in general, avoid anything which could be a distraction.

Incidentally, I really don’t know what the female equivalent of the cartoon tie would be. Any suggestions?

5. Start off with a joke.

This is a bit like the previous ‘ tip ‘. Break the ice, show what a good sense of humour you have, get them on your side.

Please don’t do this. Not unless you’re a good joke – teller and this joke is absolutely guaranteed to get a laugh. And, even then, only if it’s appropriate in some way. One of the best ways to kill your chances from the start is to begin with a joke which has nothing to do with your subject and watch it flop. Believe me, you’ll wish you were somewhere else and your audience will too.

Use humour if you can. It will help get your message across and it will get the audience on your side, but be careful with it. You can use stories, things that have happened to you or to other people which relate to your talk. Being a bit self – deprecating can be a good way to gain an audience’s trust but

don’t overdo it. If in doubt, leave it out.

6. Tell them you’re nervous to get them on your side.

Like some of the others, this is a plea for support to the audience. You know most people hate the idea of speaking in public, so you appeal to their sympathy by telling them how bad you feel. Another approach is to apologise – “ I don’t know why I was asked to do this. I’ve never done this sort of thing

before. “

This NEVER works.

One thing you can generally be sure of is that, at the start of a talk, your audience will want you to succeed. You should remember this when you feel nervous. They will give you a chance to do well and they will mainly be prepared to listen ( and they will probably be really glad it’s not them doing it ).

But they are also expecting something in return for the time they are giving up. If you start suggesting that, in some way, this is going to be a lousy speech, they’ll believe you. And they’ll switch off. You will have lost any sympathy they had.

To get over your nerves at the start, have a clear and positive opening worked out. This is one part of the speech you can memories to get you through the first few moments. Just tell them who you are, what you are talking about and what they will gain from listening. Then get on with it.

7. Stand still and don’t move your hands about.

A lot of people who are inexperienced at public speaking try their utmost to stop themselves moving about. They seem to have some fear that their bodies will go out of control and they’ll do something totally ridiculous or embarrassing. So they try to keep absolutely still, often by holding onto a lectern like the survivor of a shipwreck clinging to a piece of driftwood on the ocean.

The best way to make contact with an audience and to keep their attention is to behave as if you are speaking to them in a normal conversation. So you move about, you use gestures, you look at them. When speakers try to stop themselves doing these things, they become unnatural, distant from the audience.

So don’t get too hung up about any mannerisms you think you may have. It’s usually better to look natural than to try to deliver a talk as though from a straightjacket. Just avoid some obvious distractions, like playing with something in your hands, pushing your hands in your pockets and juggling your change( a male thing ), shifting back and forth on one leg. But, if what you are saying is interesting, people will listen.

8. Stare over the heads of the audience.

This is a way of pretending to establish eye contact without really doing so, because some people feel awkward about it. They don’t really want to look at the audience. The idea is that, if you look out over their heads, they will think you are looking at them.

Actually, they won’t. They’ll think “ Why is this person looking over my head? “.

To my mind, the key factor in gaining an audience’s attention and keeping it ( apart from the fascinating content of your talk ) is eye contact. If you were talking to someone who never looked at you, what would you think?

Chances are you’d think “ This person isn’t interested in me. He’s not listening. “ Or, if the person was speaking but not looking at you, you may think they were a bit shifty, perhaps dishonest. In any event, you wouldn’t find it a pleasant experience.

The same goes for speaking in public. If I am in an audience and the speaker doesn’t look at me, I can’t feel that person is interested in me or whether I am listening. So I stop listening. On the other hand, if the speaker makes a point of keeping eye contact with me, it gives me the feeling that he cares about making some connection with me and I’ll feel less inclined to switch off.

So look at them while you speak, keep your eyes moving around the room so you engage everyone there. If it’s a very big audience, you can look at a section at a time but, with a small audience, you will need to look at individuals. Not for too long, but glance at everyone as you speak so no – one feels left out.

9. Imagine the audience naked.

This is supposed to be another way to deal with nerves. I have actually seen it in guides to presentations.

The best answer to this is one I found in the book “ Successful Presentations for Dummies “ by Malcolm Kushner: IDG Books. He says there is probably half the audience who you wouldn’t mind

seeing naked. The other half you certainly would never want to see naked. Either way, it’s not a calming thought.

Another ‘ tip ‘ I have come across is to pretend the audience isn’t there. This probably works in a way because I can guarantee, if you pretend the audience isn’t there, pretty soon it won’t be.

I mentioned eye contact above. You can’t just ignore the people out there and expect your talk to have any impact. There are lots of ways to tackle nerves but they come under 3 categories:

* preparation, think through what could go wrong and prepare for it, know your subject and be clear about why you are giving the talk, also keep things in perspective – what’s the worst than can happen? You’re not performing brain surgery.

* relaxation or deep breathing exercises.

* positive self – talk, visualise the talk going really well, tell yourself it will be a success, know that you have prepared and that you can do this and stop yourself when you start to think it will all be a disaster.

Above all, remember that everyone gets nervous when they have to speak in public. If you don’t feel nervous, you should ask someone to check your pulse. The nerves themselves are not the problem. You can carry on and give a great talk even though you feel nervous at the start.

10. Have a drink beforehand to calm your nerves.

No, no, no. Alcohol and nerves are a lethal combination. Have you ever sat through a Best Man’s speech at a wedding? Then you’ll know what I mean. Don’t do it.

Incidentally, if you want to have a glass of water at hand in case your mouth gets dry – use still not sparkling. Belching into a microphone is not to be recommended.

There you are – the top 10 things to avoid when speaking in public. Keep away from these, follow my simple rules, and you won’t go far wrong.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

POINTING @ Menuding Jari

Pointing Fingers (Menuding Jari)

A professional friend approached me and share a story about a Dato' (who is a president of a professional association) like to point to the audience when giving a speech or addressing the audience. He asked me what is my point of view about this.

This is what i would like to share.
Thru my an experience shared with me by my US mentor in public speaking that a former US President also have this kind of habit and it made more than some of his audiences feel annoyed with his public speaking 'art'. This includes his advisor. So the appoint a consultant to tackle this problem.

The fromer president responded by saying, "I can't help it, I am used to talking this way". So they taped his fingers together and when he points, it actually seen as he was not pointing with the usual finger but 'showing' with all finger of his hand. And that settle that.

Now in Malaysia and in normal culture it is mostly accepted that it is not polite to point.
Pointing means showing authority (aku ada kuasa), you can use this in the uniform bodies (the military or the police) but still there are more suttle way other than using the pointing finger approach.

Biasanya orang yang macam ini mereka adalah orang yang berkuasa dan jarang bercampur dengan orang lain yang lebih berkuasa dari mereka. Mereka biasanya di dalam kelompok yang pada kebanyakan masanya merekalah individu paling tinggi pangkat dan paling dihormati. Bila dah lama macam ni, maka bila dia bercakap, kata-kata dia dalam ibarat firman, perbuatan dia adalah sunnah yang tidak boleh disangkal. Maka berlakulah yang tersebut di atas tadi.

Perdana Menteri kita pun tak sampai menuding jari begitu. Menteri-menteri kabinet malah ada jutawan terkenal pun tak begitu. Jadi, ini adalah satu tips public speaking yang penting untuk semua yang selalu berada di depan khalayak dan bercakap dengan mereka - JANGAN MUDAH MENUDING JARI!




Thursday, 3 September 2009

10 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC SPEAKING

Feeling some nervousness giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. But too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here's how you can control your nervousness and make effective, memorable presentations:

  1. Know the room - Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
  2. Know the audience - Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It's easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.
  3. Know your material - If you're not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech and revise it if necessary.
  4. Relax - Ease tension by doing exercise.
  5. Visualize yourself giving your speech - Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.
  6. Realize that people want you to succeed - Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They don't want you to fail.
  7. Don't apologize - If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems, you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audience's attention to something they hadn't noticed. Keep silent.
  8. Concentrate on the message - not the medium - Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and outwardly toward your message and your audiences. Your nervousness will dissipate.
  9. Turn nervousness into positive energy - Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
  10. Gain experience - Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Find and organization that can provide the experience you need.

An extraction from an article published by Toastmasters International

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

PENGUCAPAN UMUM
(PUBLIC SPEAKING – PS)
by "Capt." Kamarulzaman Almarwan
Ringkasan Pembentangan Kursus Pengucapan Umum
Kolej Komuniti Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, Johor
Tarikh Tentatif 15 Ogos 2009


 PERSEDIAAN / PREPARATION
Perlu bersedia dari aspek jasmani, emosi, rohani dan intelek (JERI).
Jasmani – badan perlu sihat. Penampilan fizikal juga perlu menyerlah keterampilan dan kredibiliti diri penyampai ucapan agar dia mendapat first impression yang baik. First impression yang positif dari khalayak adalah penting kerana ianya mampu membantu meningkatkan impak tajuk yang disampaikan oleh penyampai.
Emosi – Penyampai perlu bersedia mengawal emosi bila berhadapan dengan kumpulan sasarannya. Berdasarkan pengalaman saya, kebanyakan khalayak bersedia untuk mendengar apa yang bakal diucapkan. Mungkin dalam 5% sahaja yang mungkin ‘berkonfrantasi’ dengan penceramah berkaitan dengan topik-topik tertentu yang disuarakan. Oleh yang demikian, nasihat saya dari pengalaman saya sendiri, cuba elakkan topik-topik yang boleh menyebabkan ‘berkonfrantasi’ tersebut dan lebih fokus kepada topik yang memberi manfaat kepada kumpulan sasaran dan juga turut menyokong penyampaian kita menjadi lebih berkesan.
Rohani – Pastikan hati kita tulus dan ikhlas ketika menyampaikan ucapan kita. Pastikan nilai murni terpelihara. Ingatlah bahawa kita memberikan ucapan kepada khalayak ramai, pastinya mereka inginkan kebaikan daripada dalam hati kita bukan kepura-puraan. Saya ingin mencadangkan, bercakaplah yang benar dan yang telah anda alami dan amalkan untuk disampaikan dengan tujuan kebaikan tersebut dapat tersebut luas.
Intelek – pandai bercakap sahaja tidak cukup. Kita perlu kaji sejauh mungkin fakta-fakta yang kita sampaikan. Jangan sampai fakta kita ketinggalan zaman atau tidak sah lagi untuk digunakan. Sebagai seorang penceramah, kita perlu up-to-date atau kemas kini dengan maklumat yang kita sampaikan agar ianya tidak menimbulkan kontroversi di kalangan kumpulan sasaran kita dan tentunya kita tidak ingin dipanggil penceramah bodoh, bukan?



 MASUK / ENTRANCE
Seni atau cara kita masuk sebelum memulakan ucapan kita amatlan penting kerana ia memberikan gambaran spontan tentang peribadi anda. Cara anda melangkah dan berjalan dari titik masuk (point of entry) sehinggalah titik keluar (point of exit), cara anda duduk, cara anda berdiri, cara anda menunjukkan jari dan tangan anda, cara anda minum akan menjadi titik tarikan (point of attraction) kepada semua penonton yang datang untuk melihat dan mendengar anda berucap. Oleh itu masuk dengan penuh yakin, bersemangat dan bertenaga.


 TEMPAT BERDIRI / PLANTING YOUR FEET
Tentukan tempat yang akan menjadi pusat di mana anda akan berdiri di kebanyakan masa anda bercakap. Saya namakannya anchor position. Ini bermakna ke arah mana pun anda bergerak anda akan pulang kembali ke posisi tersebut kembali. Sebagai contoh, jika biasanya anda berdiri di tengah-tengah pentas, maka anda akan kembali ke posisi tersebut untuk memulakan sebarang agenda atau aktiviti baru anda.

 EKSPRESI / EXPRESSIONS
Berikan ekspresi yang positif dan memberangsangkan perserta. Sebagai penyampai umum, anda perlu bermotivasi dan bersemangat. Saya selalu menyatakan kepada semua anak murid saya bahawa apabila kita keluar ke petas untuk menyampaikan sesuatu yang baik, keluarlah seolah-olah anda seorang performing artist yang akan mendapat tepukan gemuruh dari penonton-penonton yang boleh saya ibaratkan sebagai peminat-peminat anda. Jika nada bersemangat, lebih-lebih lagi khalayak ramai yang merasai semangat yang anda tampilkan.

 PERNAFASAN / BREATHING
Bernafas dengan betul dan tenang semasa berucap. Pernafasan yang betul boleh menenangkan rasa cemas (nervous) anda. Sebagai seorang jurulatih yang berpengalaman biasanya tidak mengalami perasaan cemas yang boleh menggugat kredibilitinya membuat persembahan. Pengalaman saya sendiri membuktikan bahawa setiap kali saya berhadapan dengan situasi yang baru, walau bagaimana biasa sekali pun, rasa cemas tetap wujud, cuma pengalaman yang ada membantu saya mengawal situasi cemas tersebut. Jadi jangan gusar jika anda berhadap dengan situasi berikut. Petua dari saya adalah sebelum masuk ke pentas, tarik nafas panjang-panjang dan lepaskan dengan perlahan sehingga akhirnya, saya pasti anda akan dapat meredakan gegaran dan debaran di dada anda itu. Bila dah banyak pengalaman nanti cemas itu akan semakin kurang dan lebih di dalam kawalan anda bukan sebaliknya.


 EYE CONTACT
Dari mata turun ke hati, itulah madah dan kata-kata pujanga. Setiasa memberikan eye contact kepada semua peserta secara menyeluruh. Menumpukan pandangan ke arah satu tempat tumpuan sahaja adalah tidak bijak dan tidak wajar. Sebagaimana yang saya sebutkan tadi, di atas pentas anda diibaratkan a performing artist dan peminat anda di bawah pentas ingin anda melayan mereka dan cara untuk melayan mereka secara psikologi tanpa dapat pergi ke tempat mereka di bawah pentas anda kerana keadaan mereka yang ramai adalah dengan melayan mata mereka melalui eye contact. Peminat anda akan berasa puas dengan dapat rasa berhubung dengan anda melalui contact mata mereka dengan anda. Jadi jangan lokek terhadap contact mata anda dengan mereka kerana mereka wajar mendapatkannya dari anda apatah lagi jika mereka membayar sejumlah wang untuk hadir melihat anda beraksi di pentas.
Tips :Eye contact yang lebih menyeluruh akan dapat membantu meningkatkan tumpuan peserta dan mengurangkan penolakkan (resistance) dari segi psikologi.


 SUARA / VOICE
Jika tadi kita membicangkan tentang eye contact, suara pula adalah yang paling penting. Suara dan cara anda memanipulasikan suara anda khasnya dari aspek NADA anda akan dapat menentukan bagaimana berkesan atau tidaknya pembentangan, hujah, ceramah atau penyampaian anda. Peranan suara dan mata adalah dua perkara paling penting dalam pengucapan umum kerana ia boleh menentukan outcome sesebuah sesi pengucapan umum itu.
Suara anda perlu JELAS didengari oleh kumpulan sasaran anda. Di dalam latihan suara pengucapan umum saya setiap kali melatih semua pelatih saya agar menggunakan suara mereka berucap tanpa bantuan mikrofon. Ini adalah kerana, mikrofon cumalah satu alat yang boleh jadi tidak berfungsi, atau tidak dapat dibekalkan kepada anda dalam situasi tertentu (walaupun pada kebanyakan situasi jarang perkara ini berlaku, tapi jangan lupa ia BOLEH BERLAKU!) jika kebetulan anda berhadapan dengan kumpulan sasaran yang ramai dan kebetulan juga sistem mikrofon anda tidak berfungsi maka anda telah mendapat cukup latihan untuk menggunakan kuasa suara anda, dan anda boleh gunakannya dengan yakin dan yang lebih penting sekali adalah menggunakannya dengan berkesan.



 GUNAKAN MINDA / USING YOUR MIND
Jadikan diri anda kreatif di dalam menyampaikan ucapan dan beinteraksi dengan penonton-penonton anda apatah lagi bila konsep interaksi anda lebih kepada interaksi dua hala. Anda pelu gunakan minda anda pada tahap paling efektif untuk memberik respon kepada apa yang anda sampaikan kerana di dalam situasi ini skrip yang rigid tidak mampu membantu. Di sinilah membezakan diri anda sebagai seorang pemidato atau artis pengucapan umum (public speaking artist).
Zaman sekarang public speaking artist and performer seperti Anthony Robbins menyampaikan mesej mereka dengan cara yang jauh berbeza dari seorang pemidato biasa. Jika anda ingin menjadi seorang sepertin beliau dan anda masih lagi memegang sebatang mikrofon di tangan anda atau masih lagi menggunakan boom- stand mikrofon, atau masih lagi menggunakan rostrum sebagai perisai anda dari dilihat sepenuhnya oleh audien anda, maka kedudukan anda ke arah menjadi seperti Anthony Robbins adalah jauh panggang jari api.
Tips : Zaman baru memerlukan pendekatan yang lebih kreatif dan memberangsangkan. Manusia suka kepada kelainan dan mereka suka kepada pendekatan yang merangsang diri mereka untuk merasa seronok bila mempelajari sesuatu. Dalam ertikata lain, jika kita meneruskan cara ini, maka kita mungkin tidak akan menjamah pentas dunia di dalam bidang pengucapan umum.


 PERGERAKAN / MOVING
Sebagai seorang performer public speaker tentukan anda perlu bergerak di atas pentas anda. Ini adalah kerana anchor position anda bukan lagi rostrum anda tetapi di tengah pentas atau centre stage. Oleh itu di dalam penyampaian anda mungkin anda perlu merancang dan membiasakan diri untuk bergerak dari satu tempat ke satu tempat tertentu di atas (mungkin juga di bawah) pentas anda. Bergerak semasa bercakap dan berinteraksi dengan ‘peminat-peminat’ anda adalah penting khasnya jika bilangan mereka ramai dan di dalam jumlah yang besar. Pergerakan membuktikan anda ‘LIVE’ membuat persembahan anda. Pergerakan anda akan membantu akan mengawal keadaan penonton yang mungkin jauh dari anda khasnya di kedudukan paling belakang dari merasa tidak dilayan oleh anda kerana kedudukan mereka yang jauh itu.
Tip : Rancang pergerakkan anda dan biasakan diri anda di atas pentas lokasi anda akan menyampaikan persembahan anda itu agar anda tidak kekok dan kaku bila berada di sana. Ingat gunakan minda untuk merancang!


 BERDIRI / STANDING
Cara anda berdiri juga adalah penting. Memanglah di atas tadi saya membincangkan tentang pergerakan dan menggunakan kawasan pentas. Namun anda perlu ingin, anda adalah perfoming public speaker bukan performing rock star! Anda tidak akan melompat berlari dan menyanyi. Bila anda membuat pergerakan ianya adalah untuk menekankan maksud anda (you are making a point). Jadi pada kebanyakan masa anda akan berdiriu untuk membuat point yang saya maksudkan tadi. Maka berdirilah dengan betul semasa bercakap atau berucap dengan audien atau penonton di mana perlu. Dan berdirilah di tempat yang betul dan sewajarnya.

Public Speaking - Getting Started (from my own experience)

I was introduced to PS in 1977. I was in Std. 3 at the time. My teacher was Mr. Micheal Oh (a Singaporean teacher). The location - Ulu Tiram Primary School. The occasion - School Short Play for School Prize Giving Ceremony for Academic Excellence. The role - I was to play the Big Bad Wolf but this is not a Red Riding Hood Story :p The situation - enormously critical and devastating because I never been on stage 'acting' before and although I do understand English (spoken to me) but I do not have the capability to speak fluently in English furthermore carry a role of the stage, arrghhh!!!

So, I gave a lot of excuses, all that a boy of my stature can think of... but teacher are teacher, once Mr Micheal had set his mind on getting me on stage, he just use the Luke Skywalker's most powerful weapon - The Force! and whether I like it or not I just got to do it. It a Do or DIE situation.

Cut the story short, because of The Force... and I i was also lucky that the script was short and easy (a five minutes play) I memorize it and practice it (like my life depends on it) and finally I made it through :) And after that, I was always looking forward fro a role in the school's 'acting' industry until I left in 1980.

During that time, I made more than 3 short plays (but never a story telling role or enroll for the English debate team until further in the future...much further :p

Moral of the story
1. You need a persistent trainer/teacher that believe that you can do it.
2. The Force - sometime you need to be forced to do something by somebody that has the power to force you to. It will lead you to a situation of no choice but to do what are set to do or DIE :p
3. All the above factor must drive or motivate or inspire you to do what you have to do due to the consequences you will fail otherwise.

Now, how that as a starter?

Wait till you read about my secondary school experience in PS in my next post.



Intro to Public Speaking - THE FEAR

As an introduction to this blog, I would like to share some survey results related to public speaking (from now on I will refer to it as 'PS'), please view the 'fears list' below and may be it could help us understand why a lot of people try their very best to avoid 'doing' public speaking.

Americans' top 10 fears (2009)

1. Public speaking

2. Snakes

3. Confined spaces

4. Heights

5. Spiders

6. Tunnels and bridges

7. Crowds

8. Public transportation (especially airplanes)

9. Storms

10. Water (as in swimming and drowning)

Source: Face Your Fears Today (www.faceyourfearstoday.com)

Americans' top 10 fears (2001)

While the exact rankings change slightly from year to year, the following is a list of America's most common fears.* See if one or more of your fears are on the list.

1. Snakes - 51%

2. Speaking in public - 40%

3. Heights - 36%

4. Being closed in a small space - 34%

5. Spiders and insects - 27%

6. Needles and getting shots - 21%

7. Mice - 20%

8. Flying on a plane - 18%

9. Dogs (sorry, Lassie) - 11%

9. Thunder and lightning - 11%

9. Crowds - 11%

10. Going to the doctor - 9%

* Gallup Poll, February 18-21, 2001 (1,016 respondents; + or - 3%)