Whether you’re giving a toast at your BFF’s wedding or prepping for a mega important creative presentation at your day job, having a bad case of stage fright can rattle even the most prepared public speaker. Since we usually can’t avoid speaking in public, we thought we would ask the experts how they’ve conquered stage fright and learned to slay all their big speeches. Read on for five tips that’ll help you exude confidence in front of a crowd.

woman office Presenting to Coworkers

1. Breathe like a ballerina. As a former professional dancer and now CEO of The Hivery, Grace Kraaijvanger knows the pressure of performing on stage. Her trick to staying zen? Use stage techniques to calm your nerves. “Before your presentation, take deep breaths from your lower abdomen and imagine them calmly and deliberately enveloping your back,” she advises.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Now the president at Spaeth Communications, Merrie Spaeth once worked as the director of media in the White House under President Reagan. Now when clients call her and say they’re too busy to rehearse their presentations, she quickly replies, “If the President can find time, surely you can too.” So true.

3. Use props to help calm your nerves. “If you’re giving a wedding toast and your friend had texted you that they knew the bride or groom was the one, pull your phone out and read the text,” advises communications trainer at Spaeth Communications Laura Barnett. “Having something to hold gives you something to do with your hands (remember Ricky Bobby’s interview in Talladega Nights?), which can help alleviate nerves.” It also adds a loving or funny direct quote from the the bride or groom to the speech, which usually goes over well with the crowd.


4. Start with a thank you. The first 30 seconds of your presentation are the hardest, so it’s important to have a strong introduction that’ll make you feel secure. “By praising the previous speaker, the place holding the presentation, or anyone else involved with the event, a speaker can drum up quick applause that warms up the crowd and helps break the ice of the presentation,” counsels Sacha Ferrandi, founder of Source Capital Funding.

5. Ask your audience questions. Let’s be honest: Your natural inclination will probably be to keep your head down and avoid the audience as much as possible. “But slowing down, asking the audience questions, and getting them involved will actually make you feel more comfortable,” advises founder and CEO of Elle Communications Danielle Gano. If you’re nervous, give it a try during a practice sesh with your besties first, and then see if you can translate it into your actual presentation.

How do you deal with your fear of public speaking? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)