When you're asked to give a speech, are you convinced the audience is there to judge you and find you wanting? Are you sure you'll forget something important, say something bass-ackwards, turn red from embarrassment, speak too fast or too slow, or generally show that you're totally lacking in confidence or competence? Do you endure hot flashes, cold sweats, upset stomachs, the shakes, and can't wait to get it over with?
Flash! You don't have to go through all that! The audience is not licking its lips gleefully to see you make fool of yourself. On the contrary, the audience is rooting for you.
Give yourself a break. Stop torturing yourself. Take it on faith that the audience is on your side. The truth is they want you to succeed.
Why is the audience there? They came to learn from you. You have knowledge and information they need. They want to know more when they walk out of the room than then knew when they came in. You can make that happen. All you have to do is get control of your inner game of speaking.
What is the inner game?
It's thinking about them, not about you, while you're standing in front of the group. It's knowing that what you are going to say is your gift to them. They're like a bunch of baby birds in a nest, saying "Feed me! Feed me!" You're the mama or papa bird there to give them the food they need to survive.
Our brain is wired to focus on only one thought at a time. When we're thinking about giving our gift, when we're focusing on the value of our message and the importance of making it land, we can't possibly be thinking at the same moment about how perfectly we're doing it. When we're giving all our attention to the audience to make sure they're getting it, when we're passionate about letting them know our information, we forget to think about ourselves entirely because we're looking outward at them, not inward at our navel. It'll never occur to us to think about whether we're saying it right or to wonder if someone else could say it better because we won't be thinking "how am I doing?", we'll be focused on giving them the gift they came to receive.
Your job, when you're in front of the audience, is to give them your gift. No one else could possibly do it better, because you're unique. You will say it right. They won't be able to take their eyes off you because your way of expressing yourself is special to you.
If they're doing any judging, it'll be to approve and appreciate you. They'll carry your energy and enthusiasm with them when they leave, and their memory of your presentation will be totally positive. Their only judgment will be that you're a winner!