There are a bunch of good ways to be comfortable in front of a crowd. For some this comes very easily, for others, less so. I won’t be digging into the psychology and self-confidence part of it in this post. Instead of looking into the mind, I’ll be looking at the body. How should you prepare your body to speak in front of a group if you aren’t used it?
You know your body. If you’re going to spend a full day in front of people make your meal choices audience-friendly. Avoid any food that will give you indigestion or gas (it had to come up eventually). Here is just one article I found giving specific examples. Before you head over there I’ve got bad news; most articles give a similar list of foods to avoid and they pretty much include everything. The best advice I can give you is to avoid powerful flavours like garlic and onions and anything you know to give your tummy trouble. Keep your distance from chilli dogs and you should be ok.
It’s also not a bad idea to eat light. Feeling bloated will start the downward spiral of discomfort and then you’re working harder than you need to.
What about beverages? Water is always a great choice. Tea too. I would suggest decaf of whatever it is your drinking, especially in large quantities, because it can dehydrate you. The last thing you want to do is be jumpy since most people are already going to be a bit jumpy in front of a crowd. Avoid carbonated drinks because that can cause you to burp. Avoid any dairy products too, they can really gross-up your mouth, I won’t go into details. A good rule of thumb, room temperature clear liquids with a bit of lemon. I’ve seen this rule a bunch of time before in voice over blogs and tips.
I think that a lot of the nerves that come along with the public speaking are strictly from the way that the whole thing goes down. The room setup, the timing, everything. If you walk into a room and sit down at a round table with 3 other people you might be fine but if you put those same people in an auditorium and separate yourself from them by a couple rows of chairs and an aisle, that’s when things get sweaty. Sweating is a nuisance but it’s not a character flaw. Sweating has become a stigma but usually the people who point it out and mock it are the people who are sitting comfortably at the back of the room. I say eff em. All you have to do as a trainer to make them sweat is say their name as part of an example or ask for volunteers. You may or may not be able to tell, I sweat. The good news is there are ways to minimize the impact and visibility of sweating. A good course of action is to just be prepared for it, wear light colours. White collared shirts never go out of style so you’re set!
We shouldn’t forget about shoes. Make sure they sure they are comfortable because you’ll be standing in them all day. Running to the printer room for more handouts, checking in with catering, getting a monitor cable from your car. Make sure they’re comfortable. That’s the best advice I can give. I won’t get into matching what with what because that’s not my area of expertise, if I had one.
In general I would not suggest trying new things on days when you need to present. Even little things can throw you off. I tried a Chinese green tea recommended by a friend and it made my burp. A lot! Stick to what works. Long distance runners to do not put on a new pair of shoes when stepping up to the starting line of a marathon.
Do you have any great tips? Please leave a comment below!