UNITED STATES—Getting in front of a crowd of people and giving a presentation can deliver a ton of nightmares for most people. It’s one thing to speak publicly, it’s another thing to speak publicly and have to deliver a presentation at the same time. This week I had a little bit of anxiety, not nerves while preparing for a presentation in class. While it was not a massive presentation, it was indeed a presentation that played a major proponent in a percentage of my grade in the class.

A long time ago, I use to be nervous whenever I had to do a class presentation, but with age, I’ve become much wiser to how vital being able to deliver on a consistent basis when it comes to a presentation is key to getting your audience to understand 1) your passion for the topic you’re discussing 2) your ability to deliver your message in a clear and cohesive manner. Not an easy task people, not an easy task at all.

I’ve utilize a few tips when it comes to giving a presentation because I am well aware how important it is to deliver to your audience an engaging and interesting presentation. First, know who your audience is and who you’re speaking to. Don’t assume your audience knows your topic. I’m a believer it’s always a great idea to start any presentation with a question or two; find a way to get your audience engaged in the material that you’re discussing. It breaks a bit of ice, and allows those nerves that one may have to fly out the window and become comfortable in front of an audience.

Second, get comfortable making eye contact with the audience. Yes, this is something we are told time and time again. It makes perfect sense because the more you stare at your audience; the less likely they are to stare at you, allowing some of those jitters to dissipate as well. The more those eyes fan the room, the more the confidence the presenter delivers as the presentation continues.

Third, try not to read from a script, I’ve seen this time and time again from myself and my peers. Reading from a script delivers a disconnection to the audience; that is something you don’t want to do. Your goal is to make your audience crave what you’re discussing. You can read from your notes and still keep the audience engaged at the same time. Also being able to freestyle is a skill that I believe all Americans have to be able to do at some point in their lives.

The biggest proponent I think to master when it comes to delivering a strong presentation: have fun. I thought my presentation this week was going to be a total bust, but I soon discovered the entire class was enthralled with my presentation and really enjoyed it. Man, was I stunned with the reaction, not only from my peers, but from my professor. Sometimes, just going all in, hoping for the best and giving it your all is key to delivering a strong presentation. Fear; eliminate that emotion when you get in front of the classroom or in front of the podium.

Rather its 30 people in the class or 400 people in the class, focus on your presentation, give eye contact and breathe. If you do those things, everything will come together just as you expected, and you’ll be greatly surprised by the end result. Presentations are never meant to be scary, they are meant to be fun!