If you struggle with public speaking, you’re not alone. Many professionals have experienced nerves when it’s time to make a speech. Standing in front of your audience, you suddenly feel doubt creeping in. The telltale signs of stress emerge. Your face feels warm, you get flustered and sweaty and shaky, and your words come tumbling out of your mouth faster than people can even understand them. If you’re confidence level plummets when it’s time to share your thoughts with a group, here are the three tips that can help you overcome that stress and be a master orator.

1. Practice

Did you know that Winston Churchill claimed a speech impediment? He conquered his verbal issues through years of practice. Many people experience (and successfully overcome) fear of public speaking that can be attributed to a number of factors. Top industry leaders have this same concern and still execute on the job every day, so know that it’s a real problem and that you can tackle it. Nine times out of ten, we find that a fear of public speaking just means you haven’t had enough positive experience handling it yet. Here’s how you can practice overcoming your reservations:

  • Practice the text
  • Practice in the mirror
  • Practice on a friend
  • Practice on people you know in a comfortable setting
  • Practice on strangers

2. Plan

Great speeches aren’t spontaneously – they are carefully contemplated and written. One way you can feel more confident with public speaking is to plan every aspect of your speech beforehand. Think about what you’re going to say, who your audience is, and how to say it. If you’re presenting on something, your talk should be like a story and present a beginning, middle, and end. Writing your words down on paper leaves little room for stressing about what to say, and it helps you anchor your thoughts and effectively deliver your intended message. If you have to speak in front of a crowd, you’ll feel far less confident if you don’t plan it out.

3. Adapt

Make adjustments moving forward to help you feel prepared for future speaking engagements. Know you’re going to have to make the same address next month? Get comfortable with the environment and learn from your mistakes. Test the microphone, adjust the podium, and check out the audience size. If you lost an index card and it shot down your ego mid-speech, type it out on your phone next time. A failed speech can teach you something. Perhaps you’re fine in front of 100 people but struggle in front of twelve. If you’re the one getting up in front of the crowd, you have the control, so take advantage of your time to impress your peers.

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