Want to make a living as a speaker? When you are starting out, it is nigh impossible to get big clients to pay the speaking fees you’ll need to make a good living off your oratory.

In the beginning, you’ll need to build up a body of work by speaking to small crowds and letting word of mouth spread.

The best way to do this is to contact colleges and universities, as they offer plenty of opportunities for budding speakers to voice ideas before their students.

However, the prospect of standing before skeptical young people frightens many speakers, especially in today’s politically polarized environment.

With a bit of courage and by benchmarking the efforts of those who have done this before, not only will you be able to get through these speaking engagements, but they will be experiences that will help launch your career.

Robert Stefanowski has spoken at countless colleges and universities throughout the United Kingdom and around the world throughout his career.

Though he struggled at first with speaking in front of strangers, he figured out ways to do it without letting fear get the best of him.

By taking the following pointers to heart, you’ll be well on your way to giving addresses before strangers without batting an eye.

1) The first five minutes are crucial

If you don’t engage your audience within the first five minutes, good luck getting their attention back. This has been a truism long before smartphones became a thing – with a computer in the pocket of virtually every attendee these days, you will lose 90+% of the room within a few minutes if you don’t hook them fast.

Open with a joke, tell your own compelling story, and relay with enthusiasm why they should care about what you are about to discuss.

2) Structure your talk logically

Your objective in any talk is to teach students something they didn’t know before they walked into the room.

If you don’t construct your arguments in a way that allows them to connect the dots in their own heads, you’ll confuse your audience and lose them quickly.

Additionally, take care to not rush through your talk. It can be easy to do this subconsciously, as your nerves will want you to be anywhere but the stage where you will be standing.

Make a conscious effort to pace your delivery in a deliberate manner, and you will give your points a chance to marinate in the minds of your listeners. What’s more, your slowed pace of speaking will help calm your body down, making it easier for you to get through the rest of your presentation in fine form.

3) Use images and video to illustrate key points

This might sound like an anti-intellectual point to make, but many people have an easier time internalizing concepts if they are paired with images, illustrations, and videos.

Some folks are visual learners, and no amount of simplification of your verbal delivery will change that.

From old-school slides to graphs (Al Gore‘s atmospheric carbon graph is an excellent example, but if you don’t have a scissor lift on-hand to make your point in a similar manner, we understand) to video clips, there are a plethora of multimedia tools available that you can use to enhance your lecture.