I second that, Dan.
I'm also really nervous at the moment because I have to perform a speech in English on Monday and stand on the table for it... I am a really really quiet/shy/awkward/whatever person (literally, if someone talks to me at school, I will probably not reply because that's easier than having to desperately think of something to say and then feel pathetic later because I know I sounded so stupid), so speeches are not for me. I have memorised my speech, although I'm sure that when I actually get up there, I will freeze because everyone will be looking at me.
In October last year, I had to recite a famous speech to the entire lower school, their parents (and mine!), plus the awards presenter.
I was given a week and an teacher to help me, who organised me three breaktime meetings for me to practise. I learnt it within 3 days. Then came the stagefright ...
I got a group of my friends (the ones who wouldn't laugh at me if I messed it up) and the help teacher, and went to the hall with them and performed it to people I trusted. I also performed it in front of my parents.
And, last thing, if it really scares you that much to do it looking into the eyes of the audience, there are other ways. Looking at the top of the nose looks like you're looking them in the eyes, or (if you really can't stand looking at them) find something on the back wall (clock, fire bell etc) that is just above the heads of your audience. Stare at that throughout, and towards the end (you gain confidence if you have a flawless piece) look around at your audience!
Burniel | Great at theme park knowledge, not so great at designing signatures.