I am amazed at the number of people who confide in me that their fear of speaking at a lectern or even at the head of a boardroom table is jeopardizing their career advancement. This is so unfortunate because their fear is control of them instead of the other way around.

Everyone is nervous in public speaking – or should be. Personally, I want you nervous because it makes you more alert and more focused. The secret, however, lies in harnessing that nervousness and putting it to good use.

If you believe that you are going to fail, then indeed you will probably not do a good job. But what if you could look at the situation differently? If you know your material by practicing it out loud over and over; and, in the process, record yourself – preferably with a video recorder – so that you can see and hear what is happening, you will learn a lot about your strengths and your weaknesses.

As you diligently practice your material, be sure to:

    1. Make eye contact with your audience, zeroing in on your smilers and ignoring the occasional sleeper. [Ask family or friends to sit in while you practice. If that is not possible, put a few stuffed animals in the room.]
    2. Speak with color, with life, with emotion not only with the vocal variety in your voice but also in your body language and facial expression.
    3. Supplement your air supply before you run out it.

I guarantee that if you can accomplish these 3 requirements, you will be successful. Yes, you might make a mistake or two but then so do the professionals. They all do. Broadcasters, public speakers, and even presidential candidates make mistakes. It is not the end of the world. (Lots of mistakes, however, mean that you are not prepared and that should never be.)

If you really look at those 3 components of dynamic speaking, they are the exact same things you do when you have a conversation with one or more people. You make eye contact; you speak with expression; and you interrupt your sentences to supplement your air supply.

Instead of avoiding what frightens you, might I suggest that you look at the idea of public speaking as surprisingly similar to that of having a conversation in your living room or at the office water cooler? Do not allow your fear to hold you back from advancing in your career. All it takes is practice and the belief in yourself.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.