I ran across a great blog post by Jeff Haden at ragan.com. He’s sharing a top ten list, from Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, of things great speakers never say in front of an audience.
In addition to this list, I would add never say to your audience “I feel nervous.” The only exception to that advice would be if your comment is part of a deliberate and well planned lead into a relevant story.
First of all most people will assume you are nervous because that’s how they feel when they are in the speaking spotlight. And generally, your nervousness is not as noticeable to your audience as it is to you!
In past blog posts I have shared several fast, practical tips for managing your stress around public speaking. Nothing beats preparation and focusing on your audience. Give them something of value for their time and attention and they won’t be able to tell if you are nervous or not.
I also recommend Toastmasters International for people who want to improve their public speaking. Think of your communication skills as muscles that need to be continually used in order to improve. The only way you get better is to do more of it and Toastmasters is a supportive group where everyone participating is there to work on their speaking skills.