Be yourself. If you don’t want to speak, and you’re somehow speaking anyway, there’s a pretty good chance it’s because other people want to hear you speak. In that case, they already like you, and you have nothing to worry about. If you volunteered to speak, that’s where you have to worry. But people who volunteer never do.
I actually have this issue too. I’ve always been nervous about speaking in public, which is why I became a writer. I figured that all my communication could be done in writing, and I’d never have to talk to anybody. But now things are going in a direction, unfortunately, where people keep booking me to do stand-up comedy, so I’m kind of learning on the job. I find it works to stick in jokes.
Of course, it also depends on the event. Sometimes you’re at an event where no one really wants to hear a speech AND you don’t want to give one. What do you do then?
The main thing is to try to figure out why you’re nervous. Obviously, you’re nervous that you’re going to mess up, and it’s all anyone is going to remember for the rest of their lives, especially if someone had the bright idea of videotaping your performance.
The key, then, is to make sure that no one’s paying attention, and of course to disable the video camera. I find that what most people do is try to be as boring as they possibly can. You want the sound of snoring to drown out your microphone. And if you do this, no one will ask you to speak ever again. So everyone wins.
But if you don’t want to be that boring and you still don’t want people to notice your every mistake, you should definitely put out cake. No one will give you his full attention if there’s cake. This is why there’s cake at bar mitzvahs. Because really, what does turning 13 have to do with cake?
Anyway, that’s it for now. Feel free to send in any questions or comments, but don’t expect me to get to them right away, because there’s cake.