If you don't want to get your speech off to a bad start, the communications experts at Speechworks suggest you: Don't apologize (particularly about your anxiety or lack of preparation. Apologies put your audience on the defensive. Don't start by telling a joke (which may not be all that funny, or is irrelevant, or that may even be offensive to someone in your audience). Don't beat around the bush (including, don't list off a lot of people you want to thank. Don't waste your audience's valuable time) Instead: If you need to deal with your anxiety, practice like crazy . Rehearse particularly your first line over and over. Start your presentation by laying out for your audience a key issue that they are facing in their business . If you must thank someone, do it at the end, or thank your introducer briefly, pause, and then start right into the meat of your message .