Public speaking really doesn't bother me all that much. I do it for my job, and have for 13 years. Maybe for a speech or class I teach I might get a little nervous the very first time I go up there, but not deathly afraid where I do not want to go on the stage.

For me it is all about feeling comfortable about the topic(s) you are speaking about. If I am up there speaking in front of a group (whether it's 3 people or 300) I am up there for a reason. In most cases, the sole reason I am up there is because I AM THE EXPERT. People came to listen to YOU. If they didn't feel you were worthy enough to listen to, they would never have come. People crave knowledge, and I am there to give it to them as best I can.

Three things I feel are a must when speaking publicly:

1) If you "ho" and "hum" and "uhh" a lot, you're toast. A few of them throughout a speech might be ok, but if you're doing it constantly, people will roll their eyes and think "this guy has no clue what he's talking about" or "he's a terrible speaker." Be prepared with what you want to say.

2) Having some notes is generally ok, but if all you do is read them.... UGH. Nothing more painful that listening to someone READ their notes to you. I mean, a monkey could stand there and read them. Again, be prepared, and if you need to glance at the notes a few times, that is OK! But don't find yourself looking at them constantly or people will think you are completely unprepared and you will lose most/all credibility.

3) Depending on what you're speaking about and whether you allow questions... some people may throw you a curveball. Life is a giant curveball. You are (hopefully) a professional with your topic(s) and you are ready to knock it out of the ballpark. If you shut down questions or if you relate back to #1, you will whiff. People will generally not like that. If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification. If you don't know the answer, well, do your best to wiggle out of it by asking for a business card, tell them you'll look into it and post it/call/email the answer, or ask if you can talk to them afterwards.

Just my 2 cents worth...