On this day, we tip our hats to all Professional Speakers – those brave souls who speak in public…for a living! Sometimes just the words “public speaking” can cause one’s heart rate to speed up. In fact, more than 25 percent of Americans are afraid or very afraid of public speaking. So, if it’s a fear of yours, you are not alone!

Since there is an entire industry dedicated to the field of public speaking, and because it is a highly valuable communication skill, we’re celebrating Professional Speakers Day by sharing a few tips to incorporate into your next presentation, conference call or even your next job interview!

Breathe. Your breath can influence the speed at which you speak. If you speak too quickly, your audience may not understand you or worse yet, they will sense your fear. Before your next presentation or speech, remember to take at least one deep and conscious breath before you begin speaking, this should help you settle in and feel confident.

Speak slowly. Along with being aware of your breath, be aware of the rate at which you speak. Try to speak slowly and enunciate. If you treat it like a conversation, you are more likely to take your time and speak at normal speed. (Pro-tip: Speaking slowly is especially important if you are on a phone interview or conference call. Phone conversations can be hard to follow to begin with, and speaking fast can only add more issues.)

Stick to an agenda. Following an agenda or guideline will keep you on track, especially when it comes to getting your point across effectively and sticking to the time allotted for your talk.

Be present. Pay close attention as you are talking. By doing so, you have the opportunity to respond to and interact with your audience. This is especially important if you are presenting on a topic where the audience may have questions at the end.

Provide value. Add value to your listeners’ lives! Don’t just talk to talk or talk to sell. Usually audiences pay more attention when they are learning, gaining insight or information on a subject. This insightful blog further discusses why being a ‘giver’ rather than a ‘taker’ is crucial in public speaking and provides additional information from one of the most-watched TED talk speakers, Simon Sinek.

Almost everyone does some sort of public speaking at work. Whether you’re speaking to a dozen people on a conference call or to just a few co-workers in a meeting – effectively relaying a message is so important. Next time you have to speak in public, try to incorporate these tips, and see if your communication improves!