This data is about 18 years old, but still interesting to contemplate.
Dr. Roger Flax of Motivational Systems did a study of 12,000 people who participated in his firm’s communication training programs. They were asked: What are your biggest fears about speaking to groups? Results were reported on page 13 of the September 1990 issue of American Salesman magazine in an article titled The Unspeakable Fear.
The fears reported were:
81% - Making embarrassing mistakes
77 % - Damaging your career or reputation
63% - Forgetting or freezing
58% - Being dull or boring
52% - Looking nervous or petrified
45% - Being stared at
37% - Being unable to answer questions
31% - Being unprepared
24% - Being ignored
19% - Being laughed at
7% - That someone will fall asleep
The list of fears is rather comprehensive. It is only missing some more obscure ones like being struck by lightning, turning into a pillar of salt, alien abduction, or spontaneous human combustion.