Overcoming fear of Public Speaking with Therapy in London & Online
Losing your train of thought, feeling nervous and jittery, anxious sweating and confusion – these are some signs you may notice if you have a fear of public speaking (i.e., glossophobia).
Glossophobia is common. It is experienced by 15% to 30% of the general population.
Even people who speak in front of audiences for a living (e.g., lecturers, managers, online streamers, or entertainers) can experience glossophobia. Confusion, stress, and self-esteem issues related to public speaking anxiety can create a very unpleasant experience. If the vicious circle of glossophobia continues, it’s more and more likely that it will have significant consequences for one’s psychological well-being.
The good news is that your fear of public speaking can be overcome with the right therapy approach tailored to your needs.
Start working with one of our qualified therapists specialised in fear of public speaking today.
Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation, and let’s talk about how we can work together to alleviate and overcome your public speech difficulties.
Discover Fear of Public Speaking
What is Fear of Public Speaking?
Glossophobia happens when you feel a rush of unpleasant emotions speaking in front of an audience (from a few people to a large crowd). It affects your ability to express your thoughts or carry out a speech or presentation effectively.
It’s normal to feel a little tense or nervous when we know others are listening attentively to what we are saying. However, it’s something different when in the same situation, we become extremely anxious and apprehensive. Sometimes, the anxiety during the speech itself can reach the level of a panic attack, which is a highly distressing experience.
Imagine preparing for a short presentation and learning it by heart. You then go out on the scene, and everyone seems to be paying close attention to everything you do and say. Then you become aware of every move you make, how you look and the tone of your voice, and you cannot concentrate on the presentation you learned so well. You’ve become very anxious.
The negative emotions, unfortunately, don’t end with the presentation. You think about this highly unpleasant experience long after, and each time you remember how anxious you were very well. It’s easy to focus on how your performance felt insufficient and the impression you made on others.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Glossophobia?
Fear of public speaking can be manifested in the following ways:
- Profuse sweating (e.g., sweaty palms)
- Shaky voice
- Your mind goes blank
- Inability to think and act as planned (e.g. you start feeling awkward and confused while delivering a speech)
- Being preoccupied by the prospect of talking in front of an audience (e.g., thinking about various scenarios while trying to sleep)
- Excessive talking (e.g., you digress excessively and lose your train of thought)
- Catastrophisation (e.g., “If my manager notices am nervous, I will be fired”)
- “All or nothing” thinking (e.g. believing it’s unacceptable for you to deliver anything else other than a perfect speech)
- Perfectionism around preparing for the social event
- Avoidance of formal and informal social events
Sometimes, your fear of public speaking is so intense that it reaches the level of a panic attack. In this case, you may experience extreme anxiety, an urge to flee the scene and notice various physical symptoms such as vertigo, numbness, increased heart rate and breathing rate, and even loss of consciousness in the most severe cases.
Even though glossophobia doesn’t usually reach the intensity of a panic attack, it may be important to address it with a professional therapist. Our practitioners will be able to help you overcome your public speaking anxiety efficiently and comprehensively, preventing it from further affecting your life.
Although fear of public speaking involves anxiety and worry arising in a social context, it is not the same as social anxiety. Glossophobia is a specific phobia triggered by a particular situation or object (similar to what happens with a phobia of spiders). It more rarely affects other contexts of life. On the other hand, social anxiety is more likely to affect your social functioning in a general way.
People who fear public speaking don’t necessarily have difficulties with socialising and may have good levels of confidence (outside of delivering a public speech). If you struggle with social anxiety, it’s more likely you experience a lack of self-confidence. You may feel more comfortable socialising only with family and close friends (people you know very well) than with others.
If you struggle with social anxiety, it’s more likely you also experience glossophobia, while the opposite isn’t necessarily the case. If you only experience glossophobia, you may feel confident and secure socialising but struggle with public speaking.
How is Glossophobia Maintained?
Imagine you’re delivering a work presentation in front of a large audience. You get up on stage, and one glance at the public is enough to make you feel all jittery and anxious. You start forgetting the outline you’ve been preparing for weeks. Suddenly, the notes you brought don’t seem to make sense.
You glance at the audience once again, and you start thinking:
“everyone’s scrutinising me”,
“they’re waiting for me to do or say something stupid”, or
“They must notice I’m anxious”.
You lose your train of thought, and an awkward silence follows. You try to fill the silence. But you’re so focused on your anxiety and those unhelpful, negative thoughts that putting together sentences feels like climbing mount Everest. Somehow you squeeze through the presentation, feeling exhausted, leaving the podium as fast as possible.
After the presentation, you think about every single step you made. You can’t help but focus on your mistakes and almost entirely disregard what went well. This whole experience starts serving as proof for beliefs like:
“I’m unable to speak in front of audiences”, and
“I’m not good enough for public speaking”.
The next time you’re asked to present in public, you’ll try to avoid it at all costs. If that’s not possible, you’ll likely experience the same rush of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and emotions again. This is the vicious cycle that keeps your fear of public speaking going.
What Causes Fear of Public Speaking?
The main cause of fear of public speaking as an isolated problem is a lack of experience with this kind of situation. Accordingly, therapy, and particularly CBT for glossophobia, revolves heavily around techniques such as exposure and behavioural experiments.
These will increase your confidence and familiarity with the challenges of public speeches and help you deal with the unhelpful beliefs that maintain your fear (like the ones mentioned in the previous section).
Another important cause of glossophobia is social anxiety. If you are apprehensive about social situations in general, it’s more likely you’ll have a hard time delivering an effective speech or telling an exciting story to a group of acquaintances.
When Should I Get Counselling for Public Speaking Anxiety?
You should do this as soon as it starts affecting your everyday life. Not addressing fear of public speaking may have far-reaching consequences.
While avoiding situations where others are paying close attention to you is tempting, this might damage personal and professional relationships. You may be invertedly preventing yourself from pursuing your personal and professional goals and ambitions.
For example, consistently avoiding speaking during meetings at work might lead to missing out on promotion opportunities.
If you’re at university, not showing up at an oral exam might result in failing the module.
It’s normal to feel tension and worry due to an important speech. However, if you become overly preoccupied with the “big mistakes” you made at that last presentation and tend to avoid similar situations, it is the right moment to seek professional help.
A mental health professional can help you investigate what keeps your glossophobia going and use evidence-based techniques to help you break the cycle of your fear of public speaking.
Does Counselling Work for Fear of Public Speaking?
In short, yes, it does work and is potentially very effective. Overcoming the fear of public speaking is done most efficiently and effectively with the help of a psychotherapist . Research also shows that the beneficial effect of therapy will continue long after you’ve finished it .
In therapy, you might work on your public speaking anxiety by practising in real-world scenarios (exposure) and exploring the root psychological causes of your fear. Learning strategies to manage the difficult emotions evoked by speaking in public.
While you might feel some tension every time you deliver a public speech, you’ll learn strategies to not let it affect you as much as before.
What’s the Best Therapy Approach for Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking?
Various therapy approaches can help tackle Glossophobia. However, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has the most extensive research background . CBT helps by identifying and tackling patterns of thinking and behaving which are at the basis of your anxiety.
Our therapists will always tailor their approach to your specific needs and circumstances. However, when using CBT for fear of public speaking, they’re likely to incorporate some of the following components:
- Functional analysis of the issue
With your therapist, you’ll look at what happens before, during and after you experience public speaking anxiety. You’ll learn how to identify, replace or let go of the negative, unhelpful thoughts that appear before you deliver a speech. Recognise and defuse the physical sensations that emerge during the speech, and how not to overthink some of the little mistakes you made.
- Graded Exposure
Your therapist will encourage you to practise public speaking in a structured and tolerable way. You might come up with a list of situations that evoke anxiety about public speaking, going from the least intense to highly intense. You’ll start practising with the most minor anxiety-provoking situations, moving up as you feel more confident. You’ll address possible concerns and plan with your therapist to overcome any obstacles. Sometimes, exposure can be achieved via imagery techniques, particularly at the beginning and when the anxiety is very intense.
- Assertiveness Training
This technique will help you incorporate some of the components of assertiveness in your public performance (e.g. eye contact, appropriate tone of voice). Generally, it will help you improve your self-confidence and the quality of your relationships.
What are the Benefits of Therapy for Fear of Public Speaking?
Working on your glossophobia with a mental health professional, you’ll likely notice some of the following improvements:
- Less fear about the prospect of giving a public speech
- After the public performance ends, you’ll be less likely to brood on your mistakes and worry about the next occasions
- More efficient public performance (delivering more effective speeches/presentations)
- Improved confidence & self-esteem
- Less worry about being ‘on the spot’
- Less anxious thoughts and worries with a lower intensity
- Learning to accept that some mistakes are inevitable and that it’s okay to make them
- Improved assertiveness
- More enthusiasm about giving speeches and presenting in public
- Improved professional development and chances to achieve professional goals that were previously affected by anxiety
- Improved relationships with others
- Higher quality of life
How long does Treatment for Fear of Public Speaking Last?
Clients start feeling better after the first session of CBT exposure therapy for glossophobia . Most people will start noticing significant changes in their behaviours, thoughts, and emotions after about 10 therapy sessions.
Therapy will likely last longer when Glossophobia is very intense or is associated with more general problems like social anxiety or avoidant personality disorder. Nonetheless, the prospects of successful therapeutic change are high when clients work on their issues consistently.
Does Online Therapy for Fear of Public Speaking Work?
The short answer is yes. As online therapy becomes more and more mainstream, so does the evidence in its favour, which includes fear of public speaking. It’s perfectly possible to treat glossophobia while meeting your therapist online. Research has shown that online therapy for this issue brings significant improvements .
Online therapy can be the primary modality or a supplement to in-person therapy. Online therapy can be ideal if you cannot travel to our practice or simply want to enjoy the comfort of your own home or office.
Tips to get you Started Managing Glossophobia
While it might be best to start working on your struggles with a therapist, there are some things you can work on your own to start feeling better:
- Plan your public performances. But don’t overthink them. There’s a fine line between having everything on paper and trying to learn everything by heart.
- Learn to speak more slowly. When you’re anxious, you might start talking more quickly. Try to slow down your speech and breathing. This will also help you articulate your sentences better.
- Talk directly to the audience. When the audience is large, the sight can be daunting. Instead of taking the audience as a whole, focus on particular individuals as if you’re talking to them directly.
- Learn to tolerate silence. It’s okay to take short breaks/pauses every now and then. In fact, pauses are an essential communication tool.
- Prop up your confidence with imagery. Before starting your speech or presentation, focus on a time when you felt a sense of confidence and balance. Try to enrich your recollection with as much detail as possible: where were you? With whom? What time of day? What could you see and hear? How did your body feel? The clearer the image in your mind, the easier it will be to bring these sensations into your performance.
- Let go of the negative thoughts. If difficult thoughts arise during your rehearsals or presentation, take a second to recognise that they might not be helpful right this second. Instead of trying to suppress them, see if you can continue your presentation while letting them be. Thank your mind and move on with what you’re talking about.
Our Therapists Specialised in fear of Public Speaking
All of our therapists are qualified psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors registered with several professional bodies. These include the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the British Psychological Society (BPS), as well as BACP, UKCP and BABCP.
The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.
He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.
I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.
My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.
The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.
Thank you to all at Therapy Central.
The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.
She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!
Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.
The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue.
Fees & Insurances
Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.
15 Minute initial
£105 - £120
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider
Get Started with Counselling for Fear of Public Speaking in London & Online
Glossophobia can be a frustrating and debilitating issue. It can affect your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, potentially disrupting your personal and professional development. Some people may not achieve their ambitions simply because they find public speaking situations too daunting and anxiety-provoking.
Working on your glossophobia with a mental health professional will help you learn more about your issue, tackle the unhelpful thoughts and behaviours at its basis, and crucially equip you with the practical strategies you need to cope with public speaking anxiety and unlock your potential.
Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation with a psychologist to see if our help will fit your needs. You don’t have to face glossophobia alone.
Get professional help and overcome fear of public speaking in London & Online today. You can also get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797.
What happens after I make an enquiry?
After receiving your enquiry we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will be able to tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner and, depending on availability we’ll try accomodate this.
What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?
Your first session will likely be different than future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement . Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy, and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods and approaches of treatment.
Is online therapy effective?
If you choose online over in-person therapy rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases even more effective. In addition, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example avoiding longer waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.
How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?
Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions we are able to allow some flexibility. This can be discussed with your therapist.
Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?
We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed or students. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.
Do you have a cancellation policy?
We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.
Our Practice in Central London
Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!
 Ebrahimi, O. V., Pallesen, S., Kenter, R. M., & Nordgreen, T. (2019). Psychological interventions for the fear of public speaking: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 488.
 Brandrick, C., Hooper, N., Roche, B., Kanter, J., & Tyndall, I. (2021). A comparison of ultra-brief cognitive defusion and positive affirmation interventions on the reduction of public speaking anxiety. The Psychological Record, 71(1), 109-117.
 Safir, M. P., Wallach, H. S., & Bar-Zvi, M. (2012). Virtual reality cognitive-behavior therapy for public speaking anxiety: one-year follow-up. Behavior modification, 36(2), 235-246.
 Hindo, C. S., & González-Prendes, A. A. (2011). One-session exposure treatment for social anxiety with specific fear of public speaking. Research on Social Work Practice, 21(5), 528-538.
 Botella, C., Gallego, M. J., García-Palacios, A., Guillen, V., Baños, R. M., Quero, S., & Alcañiz, M. (2010). An Internet-based self-help treatment for fear of public speaking: a controlled trial. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(4), 407-421.