05/25/2012 05:19 pm ET Updated Jul 25, 2012

The Two Words Everyone Fears: 'Public Speaking'

We receive a great deal of requests at the office to speak to large groups of people and it became a hot topic at a recent meeting with my team -- a debate, actually -- who jumps at the chance to command a large room and who would rather take a pass and watch. A quick poll found exactly one person on my team who loves public speaking, but we all agreed it's a very important tool for a woman to have.

Public speaking has never been one of my favorite things, but I believe there's nothing more powerful than being a leader and a powerful voice in your community whether it's at a Fortune 500 company, a start-up, at your child's school or in the area you live in. It's very rewarding but also terrifying. All eyes are on you; it's your show! People are listening to you speak, expecting amazing and motivating information and you want to be able to deliver that easily, comfortably and with a bit of humor. Are some people are just natural-born public speakers and relish the opportunity to get up in front of five or 500 people to tell their story, rally support for their cause, or help spark change? Or can you practice your way into becoming a public speaker as captivating as Oprah, Arianna Huffington and Hilary Clinton?

Public speaking can have amazing results, so why is it when we are asked to speak in front of a group of peers (or total and complete strangers) most of us break out in a sweat and want to run the other way? Is it fear of being judged? Fear of making a mistake in such a large forum? Fear of someone not agreeing with what you are saying? "Fear" is the one word consistently associated with public speaking, so my team came up with a few methods and tips to help take control of that fear...

1. Only speak about that in which you truly believe. If you don't believe what you are saying or are not invested in it, it shows.
2. Bring a friend. This is your safety blanket.
3. Nail your opening line. Once you get past the first line, it's always smooth sailing.
4. Use humor. It's a universal connector.
5. Get personal. Use a personal story or example that relates to the topic -- it helps people get to know you and become invested in what you are saying.
6. Do not get off-stage and immediately ask someone how you did. Have the confidence to know you did your best.
7. Speak with passion, even if people don't agree, they will respect the intent behind the message, and that is the first step in making change.

Have a ritual or great tip about public speaking? Share with me here: