Leadership

4 tips for public speaking (without picturing naked people)

Marc Randolph, Netflix co-founder and serial entrepreneur
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Marc Randolph, Netflix co-founder and serial entrepreneur

Sweaty palms, dry mouth and elevated heartbeat. These are just some of the side effects of public speaking.

So how do business leaders overcome their anxiety to address large groups without resorting to imagining people in their underwear?

To find out, CNBC asked some of the major presenters at CNBC's Emerge Americas to share how they have mastered the art of public speaking.

Marc Randolph, Netflix co-founder and serial entrepreneur

"The quick answer is, I do get nervous, and I think everyone gets nervous," Randolph said, adding, "The good news is, you get used to it."

The bad news is, people who cringe at public speaking will probably be nervous forever.

He repeated advice someone once told him: "The trick is to train any butterflies in your stomach to fly in formation and use them positively. I've done it now enough times to recognize that even though I'm terrified in the 15 minutes before I go on, within two minutes of walking onstage, I'm comfortable," he said, adding he can remind himself that he will quickly get past any initial nervous feeling.

Dawn Dickson, Flat Out of Heels founder and CEO

Dickson said she does not get nervous speaking in large groups but does in smaller settings. To get rid of uneasiness, she just remembers that people are all the same.

"I just want to get out there and share with them and make them laugh," she said.

"I don't do the 'picture-them-naked' thing," she said. "I just remind myself we're all the same, we're peers, and I'm there to share information."

Steve Case, AOL co-founder and CEO of venture capital firm Revolution

During his career, Case has given so many speeches that he's now "pretty comfortable," but he remembers the first one scared him to death.

While he generally enjoys giving speeches to big crowds now, he does get nervous "if it's a fundamentally different audience or fundamentally different talk that I haven't done before," he said.

In that case, "I try to remind myself before I start, what are the one, two, three things I want to get across" — to be proactive with rather than reactive to the situation, Case said.

Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and entrepreneur

To avoid a case of nerves, Hawk address crowds like they're a bunch of friends and also views them as one group rather than a huge number of individuals.

He stressed the importance of speaking honestly.

"If you're trying censor what you do or trying to sanitize it, it comes off as really stale," he said.