You get up on the stage, just about to start your speech. You look out at your audience. You can feel a nervous gulp start to generate itself in your throat. “What if they hate it?” you ask yourself. “What if they hate ME??” you nervously ponder.
Take a breath. Sure, it's nerve-racking to speak in public, but most of the crazy you're feeling is self-imposed. When we give a public speech, we have a tendency to view ourselves with hyper-critical eyes. That's fine. We all want to do a good job.
But the people listening to your speech are not critics. Most of them are just amazed that you are up there (and glad that they're not!) To them, you're like the host of a big party. They came hoping to have a good time. So give them one by taking care of them.
Make sure that everyone feels welcome at your party. That means making your face, eyes, and voice available to everyone. Don't stare at the floor. Don’t talk to the floor. Don't stare off into the distance. Make eye contact with your audience. Make sure you enunciate clearly, so people aren’t struggling to understand you. If you're in a wide room, don't forget to give eye and face contact to people on the sides. If you're in a deep room, make sure the people in back don't feel left out.
And whenever someone in the audience gives you a question, a comment, a big laugh, or just a smile, validate them. They just brought you a gift!
Remember: it's your party. Be the kind of host that makes every guest feel included.