We’ve all been there. You’re standing in front of a group of people at work or school or Zoom, ready to present your ideas. You know your speech by heart and feel confident in the topic. And yet, you feel that sinking feeling of anxiousness sneak up on you.
Stage fight, presentation anxiety, fear of public speaking or whatever you want to call it, can make you feel as if you are not prepared at all. There is no worse feeling than knowing how hard you worked on something only to feel tongue-tied and nervous. But know this – it is possible to overcome presentation anxiety using CBT and many people have done exactly this. As difficult as it feels, please know that you are not alone in this struggle.
Fortunately, overcoming presentation anxiety using CBT is very achievable. An extremely effective way to getting over presentation jitters is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a model of therapy which teaches you tools to challenges negative thoughts, cope with unpleasant feelings and end the cycle of unhelpful behaviors. The thing is, although it isn’t obvious, our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviors are all interrelated.
Doubtful anything can help your public speaking fear? Then, keep reading below to find out 4 ways therapy can help you overcome presentation anxiety using CBT.
CBT Will Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Right before a presentation, it’s common to begin thinking negatively. The inner critic in your head may place seeds of doubt in your head about the presentation. “Did I prepare enough? What if I don’t remember my speech? What if no one enjoys the topic?” — the list can go on and on. Unfortunately, the longer that presentation anxiety isn’t treated, the more likely it will be to spread. Many people with presentation anxiety (which is very normal and surprisingly common) end up struggling with insomnia the night before any big presentations.
One the seeds of doubt are planted, you can begin to spiral out of control with even more negative thinking. “Will I stumble over my words? What if they laugh at me? What if my boss does not go for my idea?”
Thankfully, therapy can help you overcome presentation anxiety using CBT once and for all. CBT helps people to recognize these negative thoughts and then counteract them with supportive and positive ones. Instead of doubting whether you are prepared, CBT will help you remember that you know this topic by heart which will boost your confidence. In place of fearing stuttering over your words or mispronouncing a word, it will help you remember that it’s ok to mess up — and that no one will judge you for it.
CBT Will Help You Transform Your Emotions
CBT is a fantastic method that explains how our thoughts, emotions, and behavior/actions influence one another.
As the negative thoughts overtake you before the presentation, your emotions and feelings will begin to feel out whack. When negative thoughts cycle through your head, you may begin to feel nervous. You can start to worry excessively or downright fear the upcoming speech. With your emotions being unregulated and uncontrollable, they often lead to even more erratic negative thoughts. The cycle of anxiety is truly a vicious one.
CBT helps calm your mind and body down so that these emotions don’t worsen your anxiety symptoms. CBT teaches you how to regulate your emotions so that they don’t worsen the negative thoughts or feed into how you react.
With CBT, You’ll Begin To React Differently To Stress
Your heart may begin to race as it gets closer to your presenting time, and it may feel as if it is hard to catch your breath. When your emotions are unregulated, and out of control, your nervous system will begin to react accordingly, affecting your behaviors.
Standing in front of the group, as you excessively worry about messing up, can unintentionally cause you to mess up! For example, worrying and stressing out so much during a presentation at work or school can actually increase the chances of you messing up. It isn’t that you are self-sabotaging. You are just so focused on the what if scenarios and possible negative outcomes that you lose your focus on the speech itself.
Your behavior and reactions will be modified through CBT. You will learn how regulating your emotions can help calm your thoughts, which helps your emotions and your behavior, so instead of a vicious cycle you end up with a positive spiral upward.
CBT Can Give You Confidence In Yourself
CBT will help you to not only challenge the negative thoughts in your head but gives you confidence in yourself. As your negative outlook is replaced with supportive, helpful and more positive thoughts, you will find that you are more assured in your presentation abilities. You’ll know that not only did you prepare enough for the speech, but you’ll be able to deliver it with confidence when you the fear of public speaking no longer has any power over your life. Click to read more about this highly effective Anxiety Treatment.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 15 years of experience. I specialize in anxiety treatments and have received advanced specialist training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy. Please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up an Online CBT Test Drive.