Holy Nerve-wracking Batman

My best friend got married on Saturday and while the entire weekend was a blast, the bride was GORGEOUS, and we had fun at every turn, a little thought kept niggling at me:

You have to write a speech. You have to write a speech.

And even worse:

You have to GIVE a speech. You have to GIVE a speech. With a microphone and everything.

I haven’t talked about it much here, but I get a wee bit nervous in front of crowds. Plop me in the middle of four or five friends and I’ll entertain you all night, but multiply that number by a couple dozen and my extremities begin to tremble.


Add to that the pressure I felt as a writer, and let’s just say I chugged a couple glasses of wine before the best man handed me the microphone. It went fine, people laughed in at least one place that I had planned for a laugh (there may have been more laughter but I’ve blacked it all out… even after watching it on video), and I stopped shaking about half an hour later.

What do you do to calm your nerves?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. I always get way more nervous AFTER I’ve given a talk, performed, whatever than before and during. I’ll get off a stage and shake for half an hour, so I completely relate to that part.

    As for the before? It’s a matter of being prepared and just gritting your teeth and doing it. It’s easier when you’re an actor because you’re someone other than yourself. That’s not a problem for me any more. But ask me to speak or sing as me? Oy vey. I used to have a large gin & tonic or two beforehand.

    It’s different for everyone. But what I typed above stands true for most – just know what you’re doing before you get up there. Then, once you’ve gotten that first laugh or smattering of applause, you can breathe and relax into it. And remember, such things rarely last more than a few minutes. Of course, when you’re doing those mega-publicity author tours one day . . .

  2. Penguin

    Rum, lots and lots of rum.
    Before, during, and after…..

    Could be the reason nobody wants me to speak in public, but I like it that way.

    I can loose 40 lbs in water wait leading up to the speech, another 60 during the speech, I could almost dry up before the end of it, so I replenish with Rum, not to mention I shake so bad you could wire me up to generate power.

    Yes, I would rather die than speak publicly.

  3. WendycinNYC

    I don’t mind speaking in public, but I can’t do it off-the-cuff without a lot of uhhs and ummms. So I practice.

  4. JLC

    You know whats funny, I can talk in front of a classroom filled with students and not think twice about it, but as soon as there are one or two adults in the room, I get nervous. I don’t like being judged by the audience, but it helps to know that people are generally too self-absorbed to really give your speech any thought once it is over. Soon they are back to drinking and chatting. (Although, not in the classroom)

    The only exception to this was when I spoke at my mom’s memorial service. I had people approaching me years later to tell me how moving it was. I was surprised they remembered it.

    Remember Bridget Jones’ Diary? “Mr. Titspervert.”

    • ROFL! Titspervert.

      That is funny that you can talk in front of that many kids. That would make me nervous! Heck, it all makes me nervous!

      That’s wonderful you touched so many people.

    • Adam, I’m typically pretty good at avoiding it, but it sneaks up on me every now and then. I think my last actual SPEECH was in high school. Aside from a college speech class, but that was much smaller. HS was a couple hundred people!

  5. mary hart

    I definitely avoid it. Or Valium.

    I heard once about a survey that said more people would rather die then speak publicly. I believe it.

    Glad it went well and I am sure you were a huge hit!

  6. I suck at public speaking, and I mean really super-suck, but I’m resigned to it. I’ve had to do it so often, that it doesn’t bother me.

    But when I’m nervous? I avoid it. Like talking on the phone. I just don’t. 🙂

  7. robinaltman

    Liquor, propranalol, both…

    I find that the more I do it, the less scared I am. I guess that’s the same with anything scary. At this point, I could probably go onstage and pull down my pants. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could.

  8. Nadine

    I tend to turn bright red when giving speeches – had to do them a few jobs ago. And I tend to talk too fast. Speeches and me = not a good thing.

    As for calming my nerves, wine would definitely help or just taking a deep breath too but I have no future speeches anywhere in site for years and years.

    • I talk really fast too. Really fast. And nerves just make me faster. My dad said he caught most of what I said. 😛

      Deep breaths usually work well for me. If only I’d remembered that…

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