-rehearse. Your speech, your questions, your whatever. Outlook and annunciated.
-get social. I walk around smiling and saying hello to people, I chat, whatever to get in an outgoing frame of mind.
-indulge the panic. Create the frame that this is free and loose, that there’s no plan. Say the things that pop into your head, laugh. The audience will only ever have as much fun as you do.
-make contact. If you meet someone’s gaze give them a wink, a wave, and/or a smile. Acknowledge everyone you can including mentioning people by name whenever you can.
-the thing to do when a joke doesn’t land is use the magic words ‘that joke didn’t land’. According to the old sayings comedy is about saying what everyone’s thinking and if you think they’re thinking a joke sucked then that’s what you say. Then you laugh and roll forward.
-move. Move your feet, move your hands, move your while damn body. In various ways, don’t feel like you have to have a routine.
-talk through the fucking mic. This is my biggest peeve, microphones are tubes: imagine your voice is a lazer and aim it through the tube. I just made you instantly a hundred times better right there.
-wrap it up. Have a strong finish absolutely, but also with questions and conversations, with any bits you’re doing, keep it short and keep it tight.
-don’t drink. Until you get in the zone. Then start drinking feverishly. Trying to drink away your nerves will make you sloppy and disconnected. Get on stage, get comfortable, then you can drink and the audience will come along with you as you loosen up.