First, Andy Mayor showed up with my brand spanking new audio CD of stories, "Tasty." It has 60 minutes of story on there – 3 flash fiction pieces and 2 longer short stories. I sold a couple of copies and that was very cool, too. I love the cover.
Next up was my second ever reading. I have to tell you, when you read aloud to strangers, you notice all of the problems in the flow of your story. Some things that read well on paper do not read well out loud. And that is all right. You can modify things as you go along but I recommend printing out your story and taking it to another part of the house and reading it out loud to your pet, your spouse or even a plant. You will discover where the bobbles in your story are.
I've also figured out that you do not need to read every single word on the page when reading for a live audience. You do not have to say "He paused," while reading. You can simply pause where the story demands it and then go on. Sometimes, if you are reading and extra words pop in that sound good, leave them in. The audience isn't reading along with you. They are listening and they don't know every single word that is on your page. A story can be a little different every time you read it.
Finally, emote with your body, your hands, your eyes and your voice. Let your voice rise in fear or anger and soften a touch in thought or sadness. If your character is shrugging in the story, you shrug, too. Make eye contact with members of your audience. You aren't just reading your work. You are performing it. The more you get into it, the more your audience will get into it. That is where the practice helps.
I've discovered that as much as the very idea of reading to a live audience terrifies me, I really like the experience of it. So much so, I've already volunteered to read at a steampunk convention in early August before I head out to GenCon Indy.