Let’s say you’re about to speak at a large-stage conference and you’re totally nervous.  You hardly know anyone in the audience and you really wish you did because you know you speak better when you feel a connection to the lovely faces that you’re looking into.  What do you do?

It’s simple:  network!

If you’ve got your content down (which I know you do because you rehearsed for hours on multiple days before you even showed up), and your technical issues are sorted (which of course they are because you sent your slides in on time and the organizers already let you zoom through their machine) and you’ve got time, mingle!  Most conferences have breakfasts.  Go ahead and mingle with the other coffee lovers.  Ask them things like “Why did you come to this event?”  “What do you do?” “Tell me about your company”  “What are some of your favorite topics in this subject area?” “Did you stay at this hotel?” ” Do you like grape or strawberry danishes better?” “Where did you get your shoes?”

The results:  connection with some of the attendees, possible networking, the creation of some friendly faces to find in the audience, and maybe even some information to relate to the audience during your talk.  And most importantly:  quieted nerves!  As an added bonus:  Those who network with their audience members tend to get more social media hits and higher ratings with conference organizers (which leads to more speaking gigs).

Remember, most audience members want to be on your side.  Go ahead and meet them so they can be.