Today we’re going to kick off by talking about one of the simplest things that can throw even the most accomplished speaker off track when they are in the heart of a presentation.
Have you ever dried-up when speaking in front of a crowd of people, or even in a new and unfamiliar situation? Then you already have experience of the dreaded cotton mouth.
Cotton mouth, or xerostomia as it is known in medical speak is simply a dry mouth due to a lack of saliva.
There are a number of things that cause xerostomia but in the case of the public speaker it is most often just simply down to nerves.
A dry mouth during a speech is bound to make us feel really self conscious but hey guess what, the chances are nobody listening to your speech has even realised anything is wrong. A dry mouth feels a lot worse than it sounds.
So how do we avoid getting cotton mouth? Well for starters remember to drink plenty of water. A dry mouth is caused in most instances due to dehydration. I often forget to drink enough water, so when I’m stressed and nervous drinking is the last thing on my mind. Make drinking water part of your preparation routine (more on preparation later in the week), drink plenty beforehand and then empty yourself out just before you make the presentation – there’s nothing worse than a weak bladder when you’re nervous!
Also make sure you have a glass of water on hand during your speech, then if you’re feeling dry don’t get embarrassed about pausing for a drink as nobody will mind but try not to do it too often and if you can use natural breaks to take a sip, e.g. when somebody asks a question.
My top tip of the day though comes from one of our actors, and even though it shouldn’t be used regularly it really does work. If you find yourself drying up and have no water to hand try biting the end of your tongue, not too hard and certainly not hard enough to make it bleed! When you bite your tongue your saliva glands are activated almost immediately and you get a rush of wetness in your mouth.
Desperate times can call for desperate measures, just try and be discreet when you do it.