No matter how many times you've presented, you probably feel a bit nervous before a high-stakes presentation. It's only natural to feel less than confident in make-or-break situations. While you might think you're fully prepared with a well-crafted script or PowerPoint deck, Stephanie Scotti, a public-speaking expert, says you're not there yet. She says you can get the results you want by following seven tips to take your presentation to the next level. We share her confidence-boosting tips in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Practice out loud. Scotti says the No. 1 rule when it comes to preparing a powerhouse presentation is to practice or read your talk out loud. No matter how well it sounds as you read it to yourself silently, when you practice out loud, you will hear it from a different perspective. Even if it feels odd to practice in an empty room or in front of the mirror, saying it out loud is crucial.

2. Personalize your notes. It's important to deliver your message clearly during the presentation, so your practice should include personalizing your notes, script or outline with this intention. Feel free to add color-coding, underlining, pictures or pen markings—anything that will help you deliver your message well. Scotti suggest keeping a hard copy of your script in case you experience technical difficulties.

3. Practice with distractions. Scotti says it's fine to practice alone but understand that these pristine circumstances are unrealistic. It's better to practice where you know others could distract you. Practice in a co-working space or a shared conference room, for instance. Better yet, gather your team or some willing listeners for a dress rehearsal.

4. Sleep on it. Try to give yourself enough lead-time so that you can give your brain about 48 hours of rest before presentation time. Scotti says that when you allow enough time for your talk to really sink in, you'll know it cold. This can make all the difference when it comes to boosting your confidence. She suggests preparing your outline, script or presentation, then practicing it as much as possible out loud for about a week beforehand. Then stop rehearsing and let it go for 48 hours. Practice once more the day of the presentation, and you'll be good to go.

5. Be flexible. If something trips you up as you practice, be sure to change that piece. Do you have trouble saying a specific word? Change it. Scotti says the spirit of flexibility here is all about finding a different way to handle it, not necessarily eliminating it from your presentation.

6. Be brilliant. Use plain language. In most cases, your audience will appreciate that you are explaining high-level concepts in a way that makes sense to them and helps them remember your valuable message. No one will think less of you if you choose simple words over jargon.

7. Don't aim for precision. Scotti advises against memorizing your presentation. She says that a perfectly memorized speech, given without any emotion, will miss the mark every time. This is because what's important is intention, not precision.

When you're confident, you gain an edge over your competitors. Before your next presentation, review the tips above to give your confidence a jolt.

Source: Stephanie Scotti is a public-speaking expert, presentation coach, communication strategist and educator. Her work has appeared in SmartBrief, HuffPost, Ladders, PR Daily, and Quality Digest.