Zimmer Method for Transforming Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking


My Zimmer Method approach to helping people to transform stage fright and fear of public speaking has been evolving since 1984.  It began by asking people to stand quietly in front of my acting classes to see if they could just be there at the center of attention.  Most people had great difficulty simply standing quietly in front of the class.  Most experienced some kind of physical, emotional or mental discomfort that prevented them from simply being there and relaxed at the center of attention.

Some people said they felt uncomfortable physical sensations, like a pounding heart, tightening stomach, shaky knees and sweaty palms.  Others said they felt emotional reactions like fear, anxiety, nervousness or awkwardness.  Still others said they thought they should be doing something to entertain us, thought they seemed dumb or were concerned about what others thought about them.   Regardless of their internal reactions, each person seemed to feel some form of self-judgment.  They also expressed the belief that they shouldn’t be feeling what they were feeling.

It was apparent that people needed to be supported to become comfortable being the center of attention so they could express themselves genuinely in front of others.  I followed my intuition in guiding them to focus on their inner tensions rather than avoiding or denying their discomforts.  Participants consistently reported that their discomfort diminished or even dissolved shortly after simply acknowledging their stage fright tension.  Intrigued by this positive result, I asked them to give themselves permission to feel the inner tensions and to accept the feelings.  I asked them not to resist or judge the internal sensations but just to be with those sensations and see what would happen.

The transformations were stunning!  An individual who was stiff and wooden only a minute ago would almost instantly relax into her body.  Someone who was very spacey and “not-present” would suddenly become present before our very eyes and seem to really be there.  We could see the surprised looks of relief and the new willingness to just be at the center of attention.  Suddenly people weren’t hiding and were no longer afraid to stand there.  In fact, they would come alive and reach out to make connection with the group.  They marveled at how good it felt to be the center of attention.  Some didn’t want to sit down; they wanted to continue standing in front of the group.  When people started exclaiming how good it felt to be the center of attention and asking if they could stay in front of the group, I knew I was on to something that needed to be developed and shared!

I am Sandra Zimmer, author and expert on public speaking and transforming fear of speaking and stage fright.  If you would like to learn a holistic, mind, body and spirit approach to learning to speak in groups with a calm sense of presence, please visit www.self-expression.com for more information.