04/07/2014 10:35 am ET Updated Jun 07, 2014

The Gifted Speaker -- 5 Keys to Comfort in Front of a Crowd

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The start of any presentation, whether business or artistic, starts with you. You are the center of what you are going to present. So, it follows then that your comfort level is primary to getting the job done. After all, you are going to present yourself best if you are calm, confident and comfortable. How do we build this confidence? Let's start with the things we can control.

Problem: I need to be confident and calm for this presentation.

Solution: Try these five keys to build your comfort.

1. Dress Well. We've heard it before: "dress for success," "dress for the job you want," "the clothes make the man/woman." I'm not going to tell you how to dress, but I will tell you to dress well. You don't have to be the best-dressed person in the room, but you should look good. Why? Because it will make you feel confident. You won't be comparing your outfit to the outfits in the audience, and you'll look like you belong there. Keep in mind, if you are talking to a room full of CEOs, you want to impress them. So ask yourself, how will your audience dress? Are they in skirts and heels or dress shirts and jeans? Will people be in suits? Are ties involved? Or is this crowd really casual? For some of us, "dressing up" is uncomfortable, trust me I know. If I could, I'd do presentations in my jammies too, but unfortunately that sends the wrong message.

2. Smile Big. I'm not talking a big, fake grin, but smile at your audience. Let yourself be cheerful. Why? Because people are more comfortable when you are happy and comfortable. Then, because they are happy and comfortable, you will be happy and comfortable. Start the cycle.

3. Breathe. We come back to this time and again, but breathing can be your best friend. Start doing a breathing exercise before each presentation, or do it at the start of each day. Breathing will relax you, and It will also give you a sense of personal control. It will send oxygen through your system, which is relaxing.

4. Use Good Posture. Good posture not only tells people you are confident, but it keeps your body from getting tired. Good posture also makes you look more appealing, and standing or sitting tall will help you feel powerful. Just make sure to keep your knees loose; don't lock them, you'll fall over.

5. Know Your Topic. You are the expert here. You've been asked to talk, because you are the one with the information. You have to be sure you are ready. Know exactly what you are going to talk about. Don't wing it. Only a few people can talk off the cuff, and their charm and charisma are most likely the reasons for their abilities. Even if you are loaded with charm and charisma, as the expert you must know your topic inside and out. The more you know, the more confident you will be. Be prepared!

Keep in mind being asked to speak is an opportunity to shine and be seen. Respect what you have to do and you'll be respected while you are doing it.