People’s fear of public speaking tends to collapse their awareness into themselves and lose track of what’s going on with their audience during a talk, but it’s important to observe them so you can see how they are reacting to what you say and adjust when necessary.
Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on your audience throughout your presentation (and not just pretending to make eye contact) so you can see if they look like they’re following along, if they seem to be in agreement with you, or are turning actively hostile.
Sticking to a script isn’t what’s important–it’s doing what you need to do to succeed. Sometimes you even need to just throw out your plans and do something else. We’ve given plenty of presentations where we abandoned our plans (and our slides) when they didn’t seem to be working or when a discussion took an unexpected turn in a productive direction.
Monitor your audience so you can gauge their reactions and don’t be afraid to improvise if you sense an opportunity.