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Speaking and dry throat

Speaking and dry throat

Speaking and dry throat

In a few weeks I will be speaking for approx. an hour in front of a group of fellow engineering personal at the company I work for.
Occasionally I get a dry throat, which is probably due to what I drink, but I really don't know. I do not smoke.
Does any body have any tips with preventing a dry throat,
Is there anything I can take before I speak ?
Are there things that I should not drink that can cause a dry throat ?

Jerry J.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

There's a lot of tips out there but it is basically a defence reaction to the stress of doing something you don't do very often.

Room temp water to sip, avoid coffee beforehand, try not to increase volume too much and give yourself time to pause, especially in the first 5 mins. Maybe chew gum or a sweet to stimulate the salivary glands.

I do some lectures occasionally and often stumble in the first 5 minutes. The trick I learnt is to just pause for a few seconds, take a sip of water, maybe make a small joke about this not being what you do every day, take a deep breath and then start again, maybe speaking a little slower than "normal".

Good luck!

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

Warm your voice up beforehand. Doesn't need the opera singer's hour of can-belto arpeggios - five minutes of quiet "sirening" to an "Ng" sound is enough to clear the cobwebs and get the vocal folds used to the idea of being busy.

Stop and swallow regularly - especially when you feel like there's nothing there to swallow (that's also a silent and effective way of stifling a tickly cough). A couple of second's silence helps the audience absorb a new point or orient themselves to a new visual aid - sort your voice out while already paused for effect and people won't notice what you're doing (which, in turn, is better for your confidence).


RE: Speaking and dry throat

As mentioned above, have a glass of water to sip. Not a bottle of water with lid you have to unscrew repeatedly. If a bottle is the only feasible option, then leave the lid off during the talk.

In my experience, this typically turns out better than I anticipate. I lecture about nine hours per week, sometimes back-to-back for about 2.5 hours with little or no break. I've gone into many of those with a little hoarseness or dry throat. It just kind of works itself out.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

I spent the last 30 years of my career flying around the globe speaking at conferences, universities and meetings with large customers (I've flown over five million miles). The advice about room temperature water is a good one. Perhaps a cough drop 10 - 20 minutes before your talk can help as well. Start slow and then work up to your normal tempo. But the most important thing to remember is that while you have the stage, you're the smartest person in the room. After all, the audience is there to hear what YOU have to say, so keep that in mind and the rest usually takes care of itself.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Speaking and dry throat

In addition to having water at the time of speaking, make sure you're well hydrated for the days leading upto the speaking engagement. Avoid alcohol and caffeine the night before since those will dehydrate you. Don't sleep in a very dry environment if you can help it (e.g. blasting the AC). Also, my mother would say gargling with warm saltwater is the way to world peace, so maybe try that.
Best of luck!

RE: Speaking and dry throat

While we're talking about gargling....

Gargling with port or sweet sherry just before you start gives you 40-60 extra minutes of voice. Two important provisos:

- You probably shouldn't swallow

- Try not to be seen doing it (some colleagues and I got that bit completely wrong twenty five or so years ago and have never been able to live it down)


RE: Speaking and dry throat

One thing I learned from taking voice lessons: there are myriad wrong ways to speak or sing.

A few weeks might be enough time to adjust your technique. Learn to breathe. Learn to "get out of your throat".

Learn, then practice. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.

In my 20s, I took adult group voice lessons at a local conservatory. The results were astounding. People with squeaky, mousy voices found their voices. For some, the results were life-altering.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

Best advice is to have a readily available beverage with a straw so you can quickly/easily sneak a small sip without major arm/cup movement.

Beyond that, if you're wanting to improve your speaking abilities then I highly recommend joining your local chapter of Toastmasters International. It may seem odd or awkward at first, but after you've heard several REALLY good speeches given by local members you will realize the effects of education and practice and gain confidence.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

I heartily second the suggestion of Toastmasters as longer term preparation for and getting more comfortable and experienced in public speaking.


glassesJust traded in my OLD subtlety...
for a NUance!tongue

RE: Speaking and dry throat

You can try dry mouth lozenges. I've used the TheraBreath brand and they work a bit too well.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

Thank you very much to everybody for so many wonderful replies, they are almost overwhelming.
I agree with joining Toastmasters. It is something that I was considering several years ago but forgot all about it. I may just do it.
I was told I can give the talk when I am ready, so for now I am going to focus more on my breathing as I speak so I will be ready when the time comes.
I just wish I could control my pulse when speaking, but we'll see how that goes.

Now something for John Baker.
I have heard you speak many times when you visited Milwaukee/Chicago. You may even recognize me if you saw me, but I know it's been a while.
I have been on NX for something like 34 years and recently took a new job at a company that recently switched to it from ProE.
They are training the people well, but I am going to give talks similar to what we did at the user group meetings.
One of the things that IO will speak about in my first meeting is how Unigraphics was a 3D system but everything was done in wireframe and surfaces, solid modeling didn't come around until around 30 years ago, and sketching did come until 2-3 years after that. Some of commands from back then are still buried in NX and can be a help when creating a paramedic model.
Milwaukee and Chicago both had great Users Groups but it's been a while since anything happened with them. I know Siemens had other plans but they really messed things up here.

Jerry J.

RE: Speaking and dry throat

Jerry, yes I remember the joint Milwaukee/Chicago Area users group meetings, and you're correct, that was always very well attended and highly acknowledged for their value and relevancy. I can't comment on what's happened recently since I've been retired now for over six years. Note that my watching the Siemens' forums on E-T is really about the only thing that I do related to my previous life. Contrary to what many people might have assumed, I did NOT ask to have continued access to NX. I know that I could have gotten a complimentary license since for nearly five years I had sponsored one of our users, when he retired, whom I had worked with for year and who was going to use it for purely altruistic purposes (he gave away all his work). And before you ask, while I did not explicitly ask for a complimentary license, Siemens did NOT offer me one. When I retired, I told them that I was walking away, period. My time on E-T has been the extent of my involvement since then.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Speaking and dry throat

Dry throat is largely a stress reaction. The more prepared you are, the less stress you have.

If you have a chance to give your talk in a few "minor league" venues first, do so. Every bit of practice helps.

Audiences are scary. Stage fright is a b!+ch. But remember that the audience is actually on your side most of the time.

Advice about hydration, gargling, etc. is sound in many ways. Being properly warmed up and hydrated beforehand helps put the larynx in a good state. Your gullet can indeed get parched and impede your speaking. But nothing you drink goes down the wind pipe. Larynx hydration comes from within.

Again, manage the stress. Time and again I see singers succumb to fatigue or nerves or poor sound system, and technique falters. With good technique, one can speak or sing for hours. Trouble sets in quick when technique falters.

Anyone can tell you "use your diaphragm". But it takes practice. Practice. Practice practice PRACTICE!

A couple videos to start. Lots more available on the Youtube.

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