You say your stand-up routine has gone stale? Here's how to zip up your presentation (and a little advice for the eventual flub).
Presentations are your lifeblood. Sales presentations to clients, reports to upper management, speeches at industry conferences. You know, then, all the basics of public speaking: Keep it short, make eye contact, and do whatever it takes to avoid the white-knuckled grip on a podium.

But your act needs something extra, a little punching up, let's say. And you live in fear that disaster will strike the moment you step on stage - and it will eventually - so you need a few exit strategies. Read on, then, and get three of each from some of today's most exciting speakers.

FIRST PUNCH: Connection
How about running onstage to the strains of Alanis Morissette's "You Learn"? It works for John Kilcullen, creator of the Dummies series of books, who speaks to various organizations around the country on achieving success. He invites audience participation by tossing Dummies pens, golf balls, candy, and T-shirts off the stage to those who'll throw out answers to questions he poses. Use your own company's giveaways. Everyone's a sucker for free stuff.

Using a more subdued presentation style is fine as long as you establish that essential connection between yourself and the audience, says Lilyan Wilder, author of 7 Steps to Fearless Speaking. Try making eye contact with specific audience members. Ask them to respond to questions or call for a show of hands. Your interest will help persuade them that you're not just giving a cookie-cutter speech.

SECOND PUNCH: Sound Bites