Fear Not Public Speaking: New Report

It may not be the number one fear for people, but public speaking is in the top 100, just a few notches down from being attacked by sharks, and ahead of being afraid of spiders.

About a quarter of Americans report having a fear of public speaking, and it turns out that some of that fear can be attributed to genetics.

A new 23andMe trait report looks at a customer’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 — such as age and sex — we developed a statistical model to estimate the likelihood of having a fear of public speaking.


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

While a fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, doesn’t present any serious health consequences, it can hamper career advancement or your speech at your best friend’s wedding. And understanding the biology — which is linked to our natural fight or flight response — may offer insights into other anxiety related conditions. About 43 percent of 23andMe customers who are participating in research report to 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 new Fear of Public Speaking Report by going to their Traits dashboard. Not yet a customer? Head over here and learn more.