Mar 15, 2021 - Health + Traits

Fear of Public Speaking


Many of us are almost as afraid of standing up and talking in front of a room full of people as getting attacked by a shark or murdered by a stranger.

While the odds are slim to none, the angst around public speaking is very real. About a quarter of Americans report having a fear of public speaking. If you assumed that simply doing all your talking remotely via Zoom would remove the fear, the last year would tell you otherwise. For some, the intimacy of Zoom actually makes the whole experience that much more unnerving.


Genetics plays a small part in a person’s fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia. There isn’t a similarly long Greek-derived word to cover “fear of video chat,” but they both boil down to the same type of anxiety, and they both include symptoms like sweating, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.

23andMe reports on a person’s likelihood of having a fear of public speaking. Using a statistical model and data from more than 870,000 23andMe research participants, our scientists have identified more than 800 genetic markers associated with a fear of public speaking. Using those genetic markers together with non-genetic factors we developed a statistical model to estimate the likelihood of having a fear of public speaking. Among the non-genetic factors, we looked at are such things as age and sex.


Mic Check

The report is among more than 30 interesting Trait reports available to 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers. These reports often spark curiosity and allow customers to explore more about the science and garner fun genetic insights of their own. Most recently we added reports on Bunions and Flat Feet, and have others on such things as Mosquito Bite Frequency and Fear of Heights.

Fear of public speaking doesn’t present any serious health consequences, it can hamper career advancement or your speech at your best friend’s wedding. It’s linked to our natural fight or flight response. Understanding the biology may offer insights into other anxiety-related conditions. About 43 percent of 23andMe customers participating in research report having a fear of public speaking. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to overcome a fear of public speaking.

Before their next Toastmaster mic check, 23andMe Health + Ancestry customers can check out their  Fear of Public Speaking Report. Just go to your Traits dashboard.

Not yet a customer? Head over here and learn more.


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