Imagine what it would sound like if unseen commentators critiqued your speech in real time: “Here she is, approaching the podium…she’s speaking a little fast, you can tell she’s nervous, but good content on this speech…oh! she lost her place! She’s going to lose some points for that…”

Aren’t you glad that doesn’t happen when you give a speech?

As I watch the snowboarding and figure skating competitions at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, I can’t help but feel relieved that our speeches aren’t judged as critically as Olympic sports.

Nor should they be: the Olympics are about being the best in the world. They are about the perfection of the sport. One hand on the ground during the landing of a 1080 degree turn on a snowboard, a lack of height in our second triple jump on the ice – and our performance is judged critically.

Public speaking is not about being perfect, as I’ve written about in a previous post; it’s about being authentic and passionate and conveying a message. If you know your material and you are authentically interested in your subject – then the audience will forgive you a few um’s or ah’s.

So instead of making sure you memorize every word of your speech and worrying that you will lose your place, focus instead on connecting with your motivation to speak and the message you want to share with your audience.

If you can do that, you won’t have unseen commentators critiquing your speech. You’ll have an audience that can just sit back and enjoy the experience – and they probably won’t even notice any mistakes.