Does your stomach turn at the thought of giving a live speech in front of real people? You’re not alone. Many professionals suffer from this form of stage fright, but all it takes is some confidence and experience to take your presentation skills to the next level.

Here are some ideas for how to do this on your own.

1. Determine your most important key messages in the right order

Make a list for yourself of the key messages you want to convey. Then, prioritize these so you hit the most impactful points early in your talk and capture your audience’s attention. When you start out strong, you have a better chance of keeping their attention during the middle. Then you will need to close on a powerful note that is memorable; such as a key message list or a poignant quote.

2. Strive to achieve buy-in by appealing to stakeholders in early

Think about who your audience is and what your goals are. Your ‘stakeholders’ may be females over 40 who are shopping for a cosmetic doctor. They may be other physicians who are looking to you for your expertise in a particular topic. How are you going to reach these folks? What is going to resonate with the most? If you don’t know who is in the audience, it’s important to find out up front. As for them some questions, such as how many of you (show of hands) are in private practice? Or what do you hope to gain from this presentation? Pick up on the clues and tweak your talk accordingly.

3. Craft compelling and ownable talking points that elevate your brand

A few good ways to reach people are through examples they can relate to and analogies that drive your point home. Make your point in the abstract, and then bring it down to a level that is applicable to your audience’s own situation. In this way, you are personalizing your themes to your audience. Be specific; abstract themes are more likely to lose an audience who may be there to take home tangible, actionable learnings that they can apply to their own lives or practices. For example, don’t just talk about how to manage employees. Rather, share an experience you may have had in your own business and how you handled it, and the outcome, whether good or bad. They can learn something from that either way.

4. Perfect your delivery by recording or videotaping a dry run

If your palms get sweaty or your voice cracks every time you have to speak to a group, practice, practice, practice. When I started out doing public speaking, I used to practice in the bathroom mirror and it really helped me finetune my phrases and delivery. Try recording your talk on your iPhone and play it back. Videotaping can be even more enlightening. Presentation coaches and media trainers use this tactic to provide advice to clients by walking them through their videos and pointing out how to improve body language, eye contact, phrasing, and tone. It really does make a difference working with a pro.

5. Never give the same talk the same way twice

My personal philosophy is to never ever give the same exact talk twice. Right after I deliver a slide deck or give a presentation, I note everything I want to do differently or better the next time I am asked to speak on that topic. In this way, I can keep my talks fresh and continually improve my delivery to improve audience participation.