When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?
This is an interesting question.
I do a fair share of public speaking and I feel just as relaxed or stressful before strangers or friends. I have found that what determines relaxation or stress is not so much the audience as it is the knowledge and command of the subject.
Fear of failure is most likely the reason for stress. Fear is lessened by being well-prepared. A rule of thumb given to me some years ago was to practice a presentation or speech one time for every minute in length. I found that to be a minimum. If you have been asked to speak on a given subject it is likely those who invited you already consider you an expert. So your knowledge of the subject is not is question, so practice, practice, practice and rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse; in front of a mirror if possible. You will be in command and confident.
As for bungee jumping; just make sure the cord is not too long.
Here is another story about the incomparable Mr. John Smith, who fears nothing; not even meeting the Queen – John Smith Meets The Queen. Hope you enjoy.