reprint - 3:59 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)
I was extremely nervous when I first started but over time I have grown to really enjoy it. I enjoy the smaller groups where I can have more interaction than the 300 or 400 people ones.
One of the best training courses I took was where they taped me giving a 15 minute talk and then played it back and critiqued it. It is extremely embarrassing but it helps eliminate those speech hesitations and address the long windedness, eye contact and so on that we all tend to have problems with.
I didnt find Toastmasters very useful except to overcome the initial nervousness. Getting feedback and watching the habits of good speakers can be very useful.
Perhaps the most important thing I find today is knowing the audience. What are their expectations and knowledge level at a minimum? The more you know about your audience, the better you can pitch your talk appropriately and connect with them.
If you are using visual aids, learn how to use them properly to complement your talk and not as a crutch or distraction. Perhaps my biggest issue is the laser pointer. I think it should be banned because people end up making circles all over slides and distracting the audience.
Passion and humor are two great ways to connect with the audience also.