From the Chronicle of Higher Education, March 21, 2008 

Are you nervous? Good. You should be. Anxiety means you are taking the enterprise seriously and your adrenalin is flowing. Without adrenalin you will be a boring speaker.

But too much anxiety will get in the way of what you have to do; too much adrenalin, and you will not think straight.

The purpose of the following rules on presenting a paper at a scholarly conference is to enable you to embrace your anxieties and put them to work — both for you and, just as important, for the arguments you have to make and the stories you have to tell.

Dorothy Kenyon, a great feminist and civil-rights activist who spent much of her time speaking in public, once observed that a public talk must “always seem to be improvised, but it must never be improvised.” If you want to hold your audience, you must plan ahead, and plan carefully.

Entire article here.