Want to become a top-paid executive? Better work on your public speaking. This highly valued communications skill is also among many people’s top fears — 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety— but it’s one that can be conquered.

By Brooke Howell, Monster Contributing Writer

Here’s how:

  • Prioritize preparation. Showing up prepared is the No. 1 way to calm your nerves going into a public speaking experience, says Ryan Estis, who speaks for a living and wrote about how he calms his nerves in a 2011 blog post. Preparation will also help you to improve the quality of your speaking. “Too often, speakers are not as effective as they could be because they haven’t given enough thought or practice to what they really want to say and how they want to say it,” says leadership coach Scott Eblin.

  • Alter your outlook. A few years ago Eblin learned how your thoughts about speaking can affect your nerves after getting some good advice from a speaking coach. “He told me to think right before I went on stage, ‘Wow, I get to share a message I’m passionate about with a thousand people. How cool is that?’” explains Eblin. “That simple shift of ‘I get to share a message’ was huge for me. It helped me to view the event as a cool opportunity instead of something to be nervous about.”

  • Make peace with quiet. “To calm one’s nerves, get comfortable with not speaking,” advises communications coach Eileen Sinett. “Allowing oneself the choice of speaking with words or speaking without words — presence and silence — is awkward and uncomfortable at first, but freeing and calming in the end. Being silent and noticing one’s breath is a key practice to overcoming nervousness.”

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