How can I improve my public speaking skills? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Your best ally in public speaking is to have passion and knowledge on the topic at hand. Being passionate will provide you with an excitement, energy and enthusiasm that will help your audience buy into your pitch. Being knowledgeable will enable you to speak without use of a speech or powerpoint, and will make your speaking more credible.

A few other tips I've learned by taking PowerTalk & Leadertalk seminars:

1) Let your armpits breathe! Use your arms and hands and your entire body help you communicate and command the audience. Lean into the points you are making, show your number deltas with commanding, confident hand gestures. Be open. Do not cross your hands across your body. Being open gives you a sense of vulnerability and transparency to the audience which will allow them to trust you more easily.

2) If you have the room, walk around. Stay away from podiums, or tables or anything that will shield your body. Walking around will engage your audience.

3) Be confident. Even if you don't feel it, act like it. Keep your shoulders back. Stand tall. Acting confident will eventually make you feel comfortable enough with speaking that you will actually become confident.

4) Slow down and breathe. Deep breaths help you calm down and keep you from hyperventilating.

5) Know who your general audience is, before presenting if possible. This will give you an advantage in tailoring material suitable for your audience needs. Try to engage your entire audience by looking across the room constantly. Look onto people that are smiling and nodding at what you're saying. That will give you more confidence and put you at ease.

6) Stay away from the lengthy text powerpoints. KISS. Any message can be simplified. People will thank you. If they want to know the nitty gritty boring details, tell them to read your report or see you after the presentation.

Hope this helps!

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