Minnesota. Land of 10,000 lakes (well, actually over 15,000 but who’s counting?), land of sky blue waters, natural beauty, birthplace of water skiing and Spam, and … the place in the country with the most fear of public speaking?
Wow. Starts to explain why I’m so busy.
Now, public speaking IS the #1 fear/phobia in the United States. Overall, 7% of adults in the USA have a fear of public speaking (AKA, Glossophobia). Based on the frequency of Google searches for the term “help with fear of public speaking” however, Minnesota ranks #1.
Which means that you’re SOOOOOO not alone!
But why is there so much more prevalence of stage fright in Minnesota than other states?
I have not done (and am not planning to do) a full blown research project on this, but I have some pretty good ideas.
Some of it may well come down to cultural heritage.
When we look at the prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder (and fear of public speaking is a type of SAD), the nations with the highest prevalence are the Scandinavian countries.
For example and point of comparison, the prevalence of SAD in Sweden is:
And in the USA those percentages are:
Stands to reason there is a higher fear of public speaking in Sweden and you’d be right. The point, however, is that Minnesota owes a lot of its heritage to its original Skandihoovian settlers, and those cultural norms of being nice, polite, keeping a little more to yourself and being kinda humble and not wanting to be the center of attention continue to resonate through the culture here.
Minnesota is also the land of Fortune 500 companies.
The Twin Cities are tied for 4th in the US cities with the most Fortune 500 companies (tied with Hotlanta). That means that compared to say, Nashville, or even Charlotte, NC, there is a lot of need to be able to speak professionally here. That clearly drives more Google searches for solutions.
Other factors that may come into play include education and other cultural elements. Again, I’m not endeavoring to conduct a full blown research paper here. The facts are what they are, and what’s really important is what does this mean for you?
How does this affect you? Directly, well, not much. However, it is always nice to know you’re not alone. So often people with social anxieties including fear of public speaking try to hide how they feel, thinking they’re alone and unusual in their fears. It’s good to know that you’re not really unusual at all, isn’t it?