I have an entrepreneur friend who is an engaging speaker. He always gets high marks on audience evaluations.

On stage, he comes off as quite confident. Watching him, you’d think he was loaded with self-esteem.

In fact, the opposite is true. And at a recent presentation, he let his audience in on this personality “flaw” right from the start.

Now I wouldn’t recommend doing this all the time. If, for example, you are delivering a sales presentation to a room full of businessmen, playing the “low self-esteem card” could backfire. Your listeners might think: “Gee, does this guy need a hug or something?”

But in my friend’s case, it helped him bond with his audience immediately.

Why? Because he was giving a speech at a self-improvement seminar. He knew his audience — and he knew what they would respond to.

His eager listeners almost certainly thought, “WOW! This guy has his own image problem. And yet, he’s accomplished all his goals. If he can do it… so can I!”

But though my friend has proven that you don’t need high self-esteem to be an effective speaker (or a successful entrepreneur) — he’s also shown that you need to be able to present your material with aplomb and conviction.

Fact is, your audience starts checking you out the minute you step on stage.

They look at the way you’re dressed and the way you move. But it’s the way you deliver your speech that makes the biggest impression on them.

Telltale signs that you have low self-esteem:

  • You stand up there and just read off PowerPoint bullets.
  • You don’t make eye contact with your audience.
  • You use unnatural hand motions.
  • You speak softly, and your voice tends to trail off at the end of a sentence.

Whether your self-esteem is high, low, or somewhere in the middle, you can learn how to turn on the switch when it’s “show time” and put on a splendid performance.

It starts with knowing your subject inside out. When you feel like an expert, you will exude self-confidence from every pore.

That said, here are four tips to help you give one great presentation after another — and keep getting asked back.

1. Deliver One Big Idea

As Michael Masterson often says… every effective communication is based on one BIG IDEA. Create a speech that has one BIG IDEA and it will stand out in the hearts and minds of your audience.

Worried about length? Don’t be! You do not have to deliver a long and exhaustive speech for it to make an impact.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — with just 271 words — is one of the most quoted and most powerful speeches ever given. Imagine: In less than 3 minutes, Lincoln not only summarized the Civil War, but redefined it as a struggle for freedom and equality!

2. Speak in the Moment

Practice, practice, practice… so the words, as Shakespeare said (when he was alive of, course) are spoken “trippingly on the tongue.” Do not give a canned speech or read your presentation. Outline your important points, know them, and then speak to your audience as if it is one person sitting across from you and hanging on every word you say.

3. Tell Stories

Don’t quote boring industry facts and figures. Any “B” speaker can do that. Be an “A” speaker. Capture your audience’s attention with a story.  If you are giving a speech on customer service, for example, tell them a customer service horror story. They will LOVE it!

Tell the truth… but embellish the anecdote a bit (using dramatic license, and adding humor if you can). The idea is to eventually lead your audience to the conclusion that you (or the product/service you are selling) have the solutions to their problems.

4. Fake It ‘Til You Make It

That’s what most top-gun speakers did in the beginning. With enough stage time, you’ll internalize what you need to know to overcome your self-confidence “issues.” And then, it will be second nature to come across as cool, collected, and in control.

Just like riding a bicycle. Guaranteed!

[Ed. Note: Want to dominate your niche market and become an in-demand public speaker? Get the training you need to learn how to tell humorous and captivating stories… and put yourself head and shoulders above the rest.

For more information on Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel’s Gold Public Speaking Package and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-Course (value $65), go to www.publicspeaklikeapro.com]