Challenging anxious thoughts

Speaking in public is hard enough but what makes it harder is that probably 80% of your brain cells are working for the other side. As you’re preparing to present or in the middle of your presentation it’s likely that some of the following thoughts are running through your mind:

  • I’ll forget everything
  • People will ask questions I can’t answer
  • I’ll stutter
  • I’m going red
  • I’ll be boring – they will be bored – they are bored
  • I’ll get confused
  • I don’t know enough
  • Why am I doing this?

These are very normal thoughts. Most speakers, even confident ones, will have some of these thoughts. In psychology these are known as Automatic Negative Thoughts – ANTs. This means they are automatic. You didn’t ask to have them. They just pop into your head. And they are negative because, well, they are negative! And having these thoughts, these ANTs, is very likely to make you feel anxious. In fact they’re what make you feel anxious.

But just because you have the thoughts doesn’t mean they’re true. Let’s look more accurately at the thoughts and try to find what I call the More Accurate Thoughts (MATHs).


This process of looking at your thoughts more accurately should help reduce the anxiety
a bit. You might find it useful to actually write down your Automatic Negative Thoughts and the more accurate challenges.

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