One of the most important skills you need in public speaking is the ability to believe in yourself; otherwise, why should your audience? Many people approach the lectern or the head of the boardroom table, thinking they are going to fail. If that is your approach, then your chances of success are greatly reduced.

Believing in yourself requires only one prerequisite – knowing your material inside and out. This is often a problem, however, for the novice speaker. If your lack of preparation is due to your fear, then your prediction of failure will become a reality.

Why not strive to do the best job that you can do? This can be achieved by means of solid preparation and the practice of your material out loud not once, not twice, but over and over and over again.

Professional athletes do it as well as musicians, singers, actors, dancers, and other performers. Why should it be any different for you, the public speaker? What would make you think that you could do a successful job without practicing? Incidentally, reading your material over in your mind is not what I am talking about. You must practice your material out loud just as if you were addressing an audience.

This also means that you should be video-recording yourself, playing it back, and studying what you see and hear. A video-recorder is one of the best tools you have to truly hone your presentation skills. Recordings do not lie: what you see and hear is the truth. Therefore, if you need to make changes, you have the best opportunity to do so.

When I work with my private clients, I have several large stuffed animals sitting in the chairs throughout my studio. My clients then have an ‘audience’ and can practice making eye contact with the monkey, a stuffed rabbit, and Goofy!

If you are afraid that you will make a mistake while speaking, rest assured that the best in the business make mistakes – certainly not lots of them – but they do make the occasional mistake. Accept the fact that you will probably make a mistake or two and your job will be that much easier. Your goal is not to deliver a ‘perfect’ presentation but rather an excellent one. Perfection is subjective in public speaking. Excellence is not; therefore, don’t waste your time seeking something that is not possible.

If you know your material and can treat your audience just as if you were having a conversation in your living room, I guarantee you will be able to approach the lectern with confidence and composure. Believe that you are going to do the best job that you can and your audience will believe it as well.

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.