Today is Cinco de Mayo: the Super Bowl of drinking. So what does that have to do with public speaking? Well, many people ask me if it’s okay to have a drink before they give a speech or appear on TV; to calm their nerves. In fact, I get that question A LOT.
The short answer is, it’s not a great idea. Regarding TV, especially live TV, PLEASE do not drink ahead of time. On television, there are so many factors that require your focus and concentration. The lights, the producer, the cameras, not to mention the host asking you questions. If you’ve never been on television, or you haven’t been on TV often, you may be overwhelmed. And although that sounds like even MORE of a reason to drink, in truth it’s more of a reason to stay sharp and keep your wits about you. To calm down, I think you’re far better served working on your breathing and your positive self-talk.
If you’re giving a speech, depending on the venue and circumstance, things are typically a bit more under your control. Nobody is asking you questions; you don’t have floor managers pointing at you; there aren’t different cameras for you to look; and it’s generally a calmer atmosphere. So, if you’re really nervous, perhaps one drink to take the edge off, as long as you’re still on top of your game.
That said, you should always assume somebody is recording you and everything you do and say will live on forever. If that drink is going to lower your inhibitions to the point where something crazy might come out of your mouth, you might want to proceed with extreme caution.
Probably best to save that drink for the celebration after your appearance. This way, it’s something to look forward to and a reward for a job well done. Trust me, with proper coaching you won’t need to drink before you perform anyway!
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a powerful (and sober) public speaker, just reach out to me here.
Have a great day!