"Want to get up in front of a group of strangers and talk to them for fifteen minutes?"

Hell no! I told my friend.

I can remember the first day my friend asked me to give a presentation at a small event she was producing and I completely shut out the idea that I was capable of doing such a thing.

At first, it seemed almost incomprehensible.

But after the third time she asked me I could remember my small little voice saying to me: "You can do this!"

I'm not sure what got into me that day but I decided to do it and give a speech in front of a group of peers and teachers to talk the future of health and wellness in America.

At the time, I was studying to become a nutritionist and yoga teacher and was really excited to help people. I never thought I would have to get up in front of others and share my ideas.

But once I began researching the art of being a keynote speaker, I decided to dive in and learn what it would take to do it.

Throughput the process, I noticed how my confidence was building and I started to believe in myself more.

As I became more comfortable with the idea my self esteem grew and I started to see myself in a whole new way.

One of the main tips I learned from a professional speaker was to connect with the audience. That if I could win them over and build rapport with them, that it would boost my confidence.

Here is what my friend shared with me...

Build a rapport with your audience. Greet them as they come in. Mingle with them before your speech. Leave them mementos of the topic you are addressing on their tables or chairs (such as information or resources on the topic you will be speaking about), or get your audience involved in the speech as you go, asking them questions or having a relevant activity that requires active participation.

If you can get the audience laughing, all the better. People tend to not only enjoy humor, but to relate better to the person who makes them laugh than they do the somber presenter. Just be sure when using humor that it is appropriate for your audience at all times.

Feed off of your audience. Take a look around and you will see the reactions of the people as you are talking. Of course there is going to be someone who looks bored, or tired, or frustrated. Ignore that person. Who knows what they could be thinking about; it could have absolutely nothing to do with you or your speech.

If you focus on the negative looking person you will dwell on them and forget that there are many others in the audience who are listening with rapt attention and who are looking at you with an encouraging smile or look. Focus on the people who are reacting positively, be it a look, a word, a question or their participation.

Let yourself be drawn into the positive reactions of the audience, not let down by the one or two negative reactions of the audience. You will reinforce your energy by doing so, instead of dwindling it away if you are doing the opposite.

Once you have finished your speech, silently congratulate yourself on finishing the job. None of your worst fears came true and you are one step closer to not being afraid to publicly speak at all (remember, practice makes perfect). Once you face your fears head on and move towards conquering them, you will see that you were worried about nothing at all.

It is perfectly normal to be apprehensive when trying something new. It is also perfectly normal for those feelings to dissipate once you have tackled whatever it is that has made you fearful. With a little research, preparation and practice, you too can get up in front of an audience and deliver a presentation.

I highly recommend speaking in public as it will help you build your self confidence.

Here are some resources: