Whether it's presenting to customers or to colleagues, almost everyone has to speak in front of an audience at some point in his or her career. And just about everyone hates doing it. Try these tips to overcome the fear and become an even better presenter:
Fear 1: I'll forget what I was going to say.
Solution: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Part of the fear of public speaking comes from not knowing your content. Once you have your presentation ready, go into the room where you will be speaking and practice. If possible, rehearse in front of a few friends.
Fear 2: My equipment won't work.
Solution: Get to your meeting early and hook up everything. Ask the AV experts for support ahead of time, if necessary. And have a backup plan (e.g., put your presentation on a flash drive so you can use someone else's laptop if need be).
Fear 3: Someone will ask a question I can't answer.
Solution: No one expects you to know every detail about a subject. Tell the questioner to leave a business card and you will get back to him or her. It's also OK to call on someone in the audience who you are sure will know the answer.
The best way to get better at public speaking is to practice as frequently as possible. Join a local Toastmasters group. If you can get enough people interested, start a group that meets at your company's location. It's a stress-free way to practice your skills and get comfortable speaking in public. If all else fails, try the classic trick of picturing audience members in their underwear.