“Do you still get nervous before you speak?” This is my most frequently asked question. My reply? “Yes, a little.” A touch of nervousness is good, It means you care about your program and it’s effect on your audience.  You don’t want it to become public speaking anxiety.

Last night I had a different experience. I was edgy, had trouble sleeping and even experienced moments of panic concerning a 15-minute program I was to deliver in the morning. After a few hours of what passed for sleep, I popped out of bed to practice my speech for the umpteenth time. I knew it backwards and forwards, yet I was as jumpy as a cat in a dog pound.

I have delivered thousands of programs to some of our largest companies and have been on stage in front of the crême de la crême of the corporate world; performed in top casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and on TV reaching millions of viewers but to date I’ve never had a more important speech, with so much riding on it.

Right before I went on, my introducer gave me final instructions, “Whatever you do just don’t embarrass me and I hope you’re not going to tell any of your jokes!” Ouch!

My palms were actually sweating. I prayed, “God, if You’ve ever thought about taking me young, let it be now!” Then came my introduction:

“Our speaker this morning is a professional speaker, humorist and magician. The title of his program is ‘Live, Laugh and Learn.’ Please help me welcome the commencement speaker for our fifth grade graduation, Jeff Justice…my dad!”