How to Solve Public Speaking Fear

Solve Public Speaking Fear

In order to solve public speaking fear, you must first understand what public speaking fear is really about. What public speaking fear is really about may surprise you. What it is not about may also surprise you.

What we call fear of public speaking is not really about speaking. Most people who experience stage fright or public speaking fear know how to speak.  They speak every day about their ideas, insights and expertise.  When someone asks them for help, they respond immediately. Words flow effortlessly to help the person who is asking for help.

What public speaking fear is really about is not being comfortable at the center of attention of groups. People with fear of public speaking simply have not learned to be comfortable being who they are in front of groups.

Typically, one-on-one they are fine. However, once it becomes a group, they don’t feel safe being who they are. So they can’t speak with the same comfort that they do to one person. Suddenly, they feel incapable of speaking and think they are not good at public speaking. The real fear is not of speaking, but of showing who they really are to a group. That means showing their true thoughts and feelings. Underneath this fear is a belief that who they really are is not not perfect and therefore unacceptable.

April’s Story

Every day, I coach professionals who say they are not good at public speaking. Often, in one hour, I prove to them that they are good at speaking by teaching them to relax deeply into their physical bodies through an exercise that allows them to feel grounded in their bodies. Grounding creates a sense of comfort, confidence and being collected, all of which allows speech to flow more freely.

Just last week, I met with a young woman named April who works for a mortgage company. April is a skilled loan officer who understands how to guide investors through complex lending processes to help them succeed. She is one of those people mentioned above who can open her mouth and let ideas flow effortlessly when someone asks for help. Yet, when her company leader asks her to speak to groups of property investors about their services, she is overwhelmed and overcome with anxiety.

In our session today, I turned on an iPhone video camera and lights.  I asked April to speak to me for one minute about her company. She could not get through 30 seconds before she froze up and stopped speaking. Then, I sat her down and guided her through a 10 minute grounding exercise. Afterwards, I asked her to stand up again to speak. She rose and walked to the center stage area, saying, “This feels totally different!” She spoke for almost two minutes, finding interesting new points to make, able to think through her thoughts and find ways to clarify her points. When she stopped speaking, she was ecstatic about what she just did. She exclaimed, “I felt so free, I could think and take my time, and I was so comfortable in my body! It was amazing!”

How to Solve Public Speaking Fear

Solving the problem of public speaking fear requires a special approach to public speaking training that has not yet been incorporated into most public speaking courses. Most speech teachers are teaching how to organize and deliver a talk, speech or presentation. While those are very valuable skills, they are not the solution to public speaking fear.

The solution is in learning to be comfortable being who they are at the center of attention. People with stage fright and fear of public speaking must first learn to be comfortable in their skin and present in front of groups.  That means learning how to relax deeply into their bodies and to accept themselves as they are in front of others. Only then will public speaking training work for people who have serious public speaking fears.

Once they are relaxed, self-accepting and present, then they can learn the skills to think their thoughts and say what they are thinking. Then, they find that speaking to groups gets really simple. At that point, it is easy for them to put some ideas together and their speech flows as easily as it does when they talk one-on-one.

The Sandra Zimmer Method

How do I know all this is real and true? For 30 years, I have been facilitating groups of people who have serious stage fright and fear of public speaking.  The Sandra Zimmer Method guides them through a set of steps that allow them to be comfortable being who they are in front of others.  As a result, they connect to their natural abilities to express themselves in front of groups, so they speak as freely and fluidly as they do one-on-one.

I have trained thousands of people to develop a style of speaking that is authentic for each person.  They each develop a style of speaking based on being who they are, rather than who they think they should be.  What surprises everyone who participates is how easy speaking becomes. That’s because they already know how to speak; they just needed to release the tension of being the center of attention.

For more details on the steps of the Sandra Zimmer Method, please visit an article I wrote for The article is entitled How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking in 6 Mostly Easy Steps.