If you are afraid to speak in public, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. Over 40% of the adult population is. In fact, fear of speaking in public is the highest ranked fear that all people have. Mostly this is due to a feeling that you won’t succeed but rather fail and be ridiculed or laughed at and no one wants that. Some people avoid it at all cost, including the potential to succeed or excel in their field. It doesn’t have to be this way for you. We’ve got some tips for you here which, if implemented should help you tremendously.

For most people, the most common place where they need to speak in public is in the workplace. Usually, you either need to inform your coworkers of the project you are working on or you need to sell an idea across to people higher up in the company. Don’t panic yet. If you take some time to plan it out you’ll do ok. Preparation is key.

One of the most important things before speaking in front of others is to know your material thoroughly. Make sure you’ve covered all areas of what you will be discussing. If you know what you are talking about, you won’t feel as nervous or flustered. Try to anticipate what questions others may have and be ready with an answer. If it’s at all complicated, try to think of different ways to say it, so everyone will understand. Diagrams may help you here to illustrate your point. Once you’ve done this, practice out loud somewhere by yourself if possible at first then in front of a friend or coworker later if it’s important.

If it’s appropriate you may want to hand out either an outline or a few illustrations. It may help to have some eyes looking at these occasionally and not all of them looking at you all the time.

As much as it’s humanly possible, try to relax. Breathe deeply. Since most people fear public speaking, others know it’s not easy and will be rooting for you not against you. If you are the type that can make small jokes, you can try one if appropriate. It helps your audience to relax as well.

If someone asks you a questions you don’t know or aren’t sure about, you can say something like “that’s a good question” and think for a few seconds, then if you know the answer great, answer it, and if you don’t you can say something like “I’m not sure about that, I think Bill might be able to answer that for you”. Make sure you name someone who you think would definitely know the answer. Other wise, you can tell them you will check into it and get back to them.

Arrive early to your meeting or presentation to make sure everything is there that you need and working properly.

Don’t say anything about being nervous to your audience, some people may not notice and you don’t want to bring it to their attention if they don’t. You may do better than you expect.

Try not to speak too fast, semi slow and clear is the way to go. Try not to speak in a monotone voice either. Add some inflection to your speech.

Keep things simple and to the point. Try not to drag on if at all possible. You don’t want to bore your audience.

A lot of people in sports use visualization to imagine themselves accomplishing their goal. This can work for you too. Visualize yourself succeeding with your public speaking.

Public speaking is a valuable tool you can learn and use throughout your life. The more you practice it and gain confidence the better you will get.