Ease dry mouth – public speaking

When author Eleanor Catton was named the youngest winner – aged 28 – of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her epic novel The Luminaries, she was gobsmacked. 

How would you respond?

Although Catton recovered her composure to make a graceful speech, she said she was hit by a “white wall” to hear her name read out. She rose from her table at the black-tie dinner with “dry mouth and trembling knees” according to The Australian newspaper.

Some tips for when you accept YOUR award

Dry mouth is exacerbated by throat tension. To relieve it:

 Drop your jaw and rub the underside of your tongue against the inside of your teeth. This activates the lubricating saliva glands.

• Press the tip of your tongue on the hard palate near the teeth ridge.

 Subtle sucking movements promote saliva. 

 Imagine the taste of lemon juice or vinegar. 

 Simulate yawns  (subtle social yawns, rather than alienate listeners).

A dehydrated performer’s responses become sluggish if fluid is not maintained.

In a “normal” day we need at least eight glasses of water – but increase this for periods of stress. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… you don’t want to haunt the bathroom.

We’re talking HABITS here!  Drink plenty of water in those pressured weeks, days, the morning of a presentation. Ease back in the hours and minutes before, perhaps simply taking a sip before walking onto the platform.

(Excerpt from my book Speak Out – Don’t freak out now available as eBook.)

And the shakes? More on this next time.

Short vs. long?

While known and loved writers sell doorstopper size novels, the novice is advised to submit 90,000 words (or better, 80,000). Yet Catton won with a novel ten times that length. Chair of judges, Robert Macfarlane, said “Length never poses a problem if it’s a great novel.” Take heart, authors. Edit, polish, hone your skills and polish, polish.

Speaking short

My writing journey was encouraged to be chosen as one of five authors to pitch their manuscripts before a panel of publishers at Byron Bay Writers Festival. How to condense all that passion and enthusiasm for an absorbing story into FIVE minutes? It was a challenging learning curve, even for an experienced speaker and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I’ll tell you more next time.

Workplace stress: Tips to revive

Last term was longer than usual and many plodded to its end. My husband and I both fell prey to the flu – once we had a lull to rest. At times, our immune system becomes so depleted that it is not surprising if we fall ill. On this ‘Stop the world, I want to get off’ hurdy-gurdy, physical illness may be our only way out.

 Let’s ensure that run to end of the year isn’t all downhill. 

In a 21st century workplace we’re on the go 24/7. Urgent emails and texts expect a response ASAP or yesterday. We pep up on caffeine, energy drinks, sugar and fast food, living on our adrenalin until that’s worn. With little chance for downtime, adrenal fatigue can catch us out.

I’ve been there, done the fieldwork and learned a few preventative measures myself! At Maryborough Conference when I presented: 

Tips to rejuvenate and overcome workplace challenges 

Allan Latham said ‘You had me so relaxed I nearly fell off the chair!’ 

Join this workshop at MTAQ AGM on February 22, 2014. It’s based on a chapter called ‘Me’ Time in my new book, Sounds and Souls: How music teachers change livesavailable in hard copy and Amazon Kindle

Workshop participants learn simple techniques and exercises that can fill a few free moments at the desk between lessons:

  • Breathe, breathe, breathe! (Don’t we forget when rushing?)
  • Yoga style breathing and gentler movements like twists. 
  • Stretches: rotate your ankles (relaxes legs) and wrists (helps arm tension). Ease tense muscles with turtle shrugs and neck rolls.
  • Dr Bach’s Rescue Remedy (available at health stores and many chemists.) Take a few drops when needed.
  • Herb teas like Rooribos/liquorice root/green, mate or ginseng may help.
  • Eat regular meals, especially a solid breakfast, or “graze” on healthy snacks every few hours to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Consult with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist in case certain supplements may boost your energy. Women, check iron levels.Unwind in a warm bath with your mix of essential oils, bubbles and Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate).
  • Schedule some ‘Me’ time each week and enough sleep.

Above all… keep looking up, smile as often as you can.