One of the most common fears today is public speaking. And yet it is essential for many professionals when it comes to growing at your organization or in your career. I’ve spent countless hours practicing and delivering speeches myself. But I still wouldn’t call myself an expert. So here are my three fundamental public speaking tips that I don’t always hear from other coaches (outside of Global Public Speaking) but that I make sure to practice myself:

1.  Visualize success.  There is a reason this works so well for athletes.  You tend to accomplish what you first imagine—especially if you imagine your success in rich detail.  I try to do the following:

If possible, I visit the venue at least one day before my speech. I get comfortable with the setting and picture myself in control of the room.  I imagine a very smooth and energetic delivery, the rapt attention of my audience, and loud applause when I finish. This is about going beyond practicing my speech; I am practicing success.  And if I fully expect success, I go onto the stage with the confidence and energy to deliver.

2.  Practice before someone who is brutally honest.  I am careful in who I pick as my audience for practice sessions.  I want it to be someone with experience in public speaking and whose instinct is not to be a mere cheerleader. Quite the opposite: I need a completely candid critique from someone who won’t worry about “offending” me.  I can’t afford to miss opportunities to improve—especially since my “real” audience won’t be concerned with protecting my ego! I consider this a form of bullet-proofing the speech before the moment arrives when I “go live.”

3.  Meet and greet before your speech.  Some speakers, especially if they suffer from anxieties about public speaking, want to find a quiet corner before their presentation and sit alone studying their speech over and over. I find it is far better if I put my speech to one side (since I’ve already practiced it thoroughly, right!) and mingle with members of the audience. This accomplishes several things for me. I limber up my voice by chatting with people; I learn more about my audience (which can help me position certain points more effectively, and may also suggest a nice impromptu comment or anecdote), and I quell anxiety through the reassurance that it’s a group of likable people who are not there to judge me but to learn from what I have to say.