Mastering public speaking is a fear that every individual has to overcome.

When I first started out on the speaking circuit, the public speaking fear was a constant companion of mine.

The very thought of speaking in front a large audience that are waiting in anticipation for what you're about to say can often be a terrifying experience.

The sweaty palms, the dry throat, shortness of breath and the shaking hands are all tell-tale signs of public speaking anxiety.

The thing to remember is however that this is perfectly normal. In fact, even seasoned speakers often experience nerves and those uncomfortable butterflies in their stomach prior to giving their speech.

Mastering public speaking is determined by a number of critical factors.

Below are 12 important steps you should follow to overcome your fears and deliver a successful speech:

1. Know Your Subject

Do your research beforehand. Make sure you have a good understanding of the subject you are talking about. This will help ensure you deliver a fluent and confident presentation and keep the attention of your audience.

2. Take Notes

Reading out your entire speech is definitely a no, no, but you should write down a brief outline on some note cards to keep you focused and on track.

3. Rehearse Your Speech

Practicing your delivery in private is one of the keys to mastering your delivery. As the saying goes 'Repetition is mother of success' and mastering public speaking is no exception. Repetitive practice is a sure-fire way of developing your public speaking skills.

4. Know Your Audience

Your material should be targeted to suit your audience. Using inappropriate or irrelevant content could result in you speech offending or being boring.

5. Learn to Relax

Nerves are natural at the beginning of any speech. Control your nerves by taking slow deep breaths and make sure you take a pause before you start.

6. Avoid Apologizing For Your Nerves or Inexperience

It's a common occurrence for some speakers to apologize to their audience for sounding nervous or for their inexperience in public speaking. Your audience doesn't want to or need to hear this. They've come to listen to information that's interesting and insightful. So don't do this.

7. Speak to your Audience-

This may sound obvious, but when nervous it's often tempting to just talk to your notes. Eye contact with your audience is important to build rapport and also to judge their reactions to your tone, pace and content of your speech.

8. Use Gestures

Gestures are a great way to express yourself more clearly and enhance your delivery. As long as they're natural and not overdone, they can add a great deal to a speech and can also help keep you relaxed.

9. Add Humour.

Again avoid overdoing it, but the occasional amusing story or joke within your speech can engage and lift your audience.

10. Speak with Conviction

It's so important to speak with passion and belief. If you're not passionate and believable in what you're saying then your audience will pick up on it very quickly. Once they do that, it's a sure bet you're very close to losing them.

11. Take Your Time

Nerves can often result in you rushing through your speech. Slowing down the pace will allow the audience to keep tuned in to what you're saying. It also gives the impression that you're confident and control of what you're saying.

12. Just Do It.

The only way to overcome your fears and develop as a confident speaker is to get yourself out there and do it. Start off by volunteering to speak at family gatherings and team meetings at work. This will slowly but surely build your confidence to eventually speak in front of larger audiences and at bigger venues.

Speaking to an audience large or small can prove one of the most daunting experiences that anyone can face. However, by implementing the above steps you will then dramatically enhance your skills in mastering public speaking.

Author's Bio: 

Public speaking is for many a skill that has to be learned and practiced. With the right help and instruction you can become a more confident, captivating and inspiring speaker. Go here and discover the tips to mastering public speaking so you can deliver a show-stopping speech to any audience.