May 11, 2009

Fueling your presentation

Last week I had a workshop from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. I ate lunch a little late that day, and because of the heat, didn't feel like cooking, so I made a fruit smoothie with nuts and protein powder and I made some egg salad. Couldn't even be bothered to put the egg salad on bread; just ate it right out of the bowl.

I was a little concerned that I would get hungry in the middle of my workshop, as I usually have a snack between 3:00 and 5:00 -- and basically, I'm always hungry!

So I was surprised to find myself wrapping up at 6:00, feeling good and not starving yet! I put out a lot of energy in a presentation, and if I don't eat well beforehand, I will actually get lightheaded by the end.

I've been invited to speak at another event this week, and even though the presentation is short, I'm already thinking about fuel. It's a lunch meeting, and when I mentioned that I'm a vegetarian I was assured that there are salads on the menu, but that is a little frightening to me, as a salad doesn't provide much energy unless it's got lots of veggies, beans, etc. So I'm planning to eat before I go, just to be safe.

It occurred to me that we don't usually talk about one of the most basic aspects of presenting: the physical energy we need to get through a long presentation or workshop.

If you're doing it right, you're giving 100%. As Tom Peters says in this video, "If I ever finish a speech and I can still stand up, then it was a lousy speech."

I agree with Tom in principle, but we do still want to be standing at the end of our presentations, because it just wouldn't look good to collapse every time. What are you doing to fuel yourself properly before you speak?

Is this something you take into account as part of your preparation? Are you aware of what your energy needs are? I'm not going to presume to give dietary advice on this blog; what I'm talking about today is awareness and realizing your own energy needs so you don't bonk during a presentation.

Creating your presentation is just one tiny part of the overall preparation necessary to be effective. I've written before about physical and mental preparation; eating and hydrating well is part of that.

What and when do you eat before a presentation so you can be at your best?

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6 comments. Please add yours! :

Lee Potts said...

Hi Lisa,

Some folks have found out the hard way that it's important to be careful about what you eat for a a day or so before the big presentation: Don't Kick the Bucket.

Olivia Mitchell said...

Hi Lisa

I find that when I'm running a course all-day I eat more lightly than usual. I'm so focused on working with my course participants that I don't notice being hungry. Than at 5 pm when they all leave, I'm ravenous - luckily there's normally food left over from the course and I eat while packing up!


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Longer workshops are hard. During the breaks I try to eat a banana or energy bar to keep it together. But I've had that experience many times of being ravenous at the end!

Dr. Wright said...

Everyone's body is different and they need different things. You have to learn what works for you, what gives you a lot of mucus and what will make you feel strong while speaking.

Dr. Letitia Wright
The Wright Place TV Show

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Dr. Wright! That's why everyone needs to be more aware of how eating affects them as speakers. It's something that's rarely addressed.

Unknown said...

OK, I'm late to the party here!

Peanut butter sandwich is my thing. And lots of water.

The egg salad sounds delish -- but on a hot day, I'm afraid it would curdle in my tummy! And the smoothie is great -- but I'd be terrified of the blood sugar crash afterwards!

I wonder if your success with egg salad + smoothie will lead into the realm of ritual! I'm beginning to suspect that my PB affliction is more superstition at this point!

But if it works for you -- it works!

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