"Just picture the audience in nothing but their underwear."

That was the sage advice I received from my Communications 101 college professor on how best to overcome stage fright when delivering a presentation. Aside from the heebie-jeebies her suggestion gave me, I can understand why my teacher thought it was a good approach when having to get up and speak in a public venue. Public speaking is intimidating, so I guess picturing everyone in nothing but their Fruit of the Looms is one way of putting yourself at ease.

Facing down a crowd can be incredibly nerve-wracking. All eyes will be on little-ol' you. And it's your job to engage with—if not downright dazzle—your audience.

But if you're not comfortable in the spotlight, walking up those stairs to the dais can feel more like a forced march toward the chopping block than a prized opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise.

Public speaking and presentations have been a lynchpin of my long and somewhat colorful career path. From my early days as an elected politician, to a decade-long stint as a game developer, to my current role at Interprose, I've had to repeatedly get past the shaky knees and sweaty palms that come with speaking in public.

After being on the speaking circuit for so many years, you'd think I'd be an old hand at this... but, truth be told, I still get butterflies in my stomach when I'm introduced to the audience.

So, how do you overcome that fear? What can you do to deliver a winning presentation that encourages your audience to applaud, give you high marks on post-presentation surveys, and seek you out for a chat after the microphone is turned off? What strategies can you put into place to help take you from "Ho-hum" to "Holy cow!" at your next speaking engagement?

Here are six recommendations and best-practices that will, I hope, turn your next speaking session into something that's both enjoyable and memorable.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Melissa Drozdowski

Melissa Drozdowski is social media director at strategic communications company Interprose, where she helps clients make better social communications choices daily.

Twitter: @Melissa_iPR

LinkedIn: Melissa Drozdowski