Think about the last time you addressed an audience. It may have been a requirement for your job, for your presentation skills class, for Toastmasters, or for your leads group. Maybe you toasted the bride or groom or were introducing a guest speaker at your Rotary or Lions Club. What was the expression on your face? Did it say that you were glad to be there or was abject fear written all over it?
No matter what the venue, how your audience perceives you will be determined by what your face is saying as well as your body language and the vocal variety in your voice. If your face is expressing dread, disaster or dismay, then your message will come through in that manner because your nervousness will be in control of your voice, your body, and your facial expression.
While you may be in agony at the lectern, your audience should not see it or hear it. If they are able to ‘feel your pain’ – so to speak – then you are putting them in an uncomfortable position as well. They deserve your best. And that is not possible if your face is expressing your fear.
You can control your nervousness by means of treating your audience as if you were having a conversation with them. There really is little difference between public speaking and conversing if you open up your mind to that comparison and really look at the picture. Yes, you are speaking; but, your audience may be smiling, nodding their heads in agreement, or possibly even shaking their heads disapprovingly.
However they are reacting to your words is the other half of the conversation. Just because they may not be verbally speaking back to you, does not mean that they are not part of the communication process. In fact, this is so important in public speaking that if you are unaware of their response to you, then you are truly unaware of what your words mean to them. If such is the case, you are not speaking to your audience but instead talking at them.
When you can address your listeners and take control of your nervousness, allowing it to work for you with that wonderful rush of adrenaline, then your face will express your pleasure, your delight, in speaking to them.