When it comes to fears, public speaking ranks right up there with death or finding yourself sitting between Lou Dobbs and Bill Maher on a cross-country plane trip. But there's nothing to be afraid of, says Richard Greene, author of "Words That Shook the World," as long as you've got a game plan. Greene points the way.
- Prepare your head. "Be physically energized and centered before you walk in the room," says Greene. If your energy level is low, do some physical activity beforehand to invigorate yourself. Take deep breaths to calm any nervousness.
- It's not a performance. "People have a flawed perception of what speaking is about," says Greene. "The greatest speakers, like F.D.R., Reagan, and Clinton, approach it as a conversation with the audience."
- Podiums are for dictators and high school principals. Standing behind a podium disconnects you from the audience and may worsen fragile nerves. Instead, grab the mike and wander the stage or room, or at least step to the side of the podium and lean against it.
- Dress the audience. Picturing the audience naked is actually "one of the worst things you can do," Greene says. How comfortable would you feel chatting with the naked guy in the gym locker room?
- Eye contact is your friend. "You're speaking to individual people," Greene says. Looking at them one by one shrinks the room.
- Don't sweat the questions. If you're stumped, "regard it as a positive," Greene coaches. Seize the opportunity to talk about your team: "We're lucky to have one of the real experts on that subject. I'll get you in touch with him or her later."