Eating and drinking before speaking?

A look at what works – and what to avoid, before and during your presentation

You need to eat

You may not feel like it if your stomach’s churning, but all that adrenaline needs feeding. If you don’t eat, you’ll feel like limp rag when it’s all over.

You probably won’t be able to face it, but the full English (a big greasy fried breakfast, if you’re not familiar with this classic) or a four course gala dinner won’t help. It’ll sit on your stomach like a lead weight.

Sweet pastries will give you an empty sugar high that won’t sustain you.

Go for slow release energy, instead – porridge, bananas, plenty of fruit, veg and good protein sources, and snack on dried fruit and nuts rather than sweets and biscuits, the usual conference fare.

No snacking while you speak, and get rid of the gum.

You need to drink

You’ll dehydrate quite quickly as nerves can make you feel hot and bothered, and sustained speaking is quite a physical activity.

Dry mouth feels and sounds nasty, so top up before you speak and make sure you have a drink to hand as you go on.

Beware …

Milky drinks like lattes and milkshakes can have a gunky mucus-forming effect.

Acidic fruit drinks such as citrus juices can affect your throat.

Fizzy sugary drinks can cause sugar highs and embarrassing burps.

Too much caffeinated tea and coffee can give you the shakes.

Alcohol affects your judgement, physical control and personal image [more about drinking before speaking here]

Ice cubes in any drink can give your throat a shock, jingle merrily and possibly bump you in the face if your hands are shaking.

So what’s left?

Plenty of still, room temperature water in a chunky glass or mug that you can’t knock over your notes, the keyboard, your clothes …

(PS Go to the loo just before, though – and do check everything’s done up).

Choosing to eat and drink smart will help you feel, look and sound better.

Philippa Hammond