Tips to shine in the spotlight

Whether you present through words or music, try this quick-fix tip to boost public performance for


That sea of faces in an auditorium, or colleagues around a board-room table, or even a confronting one-on-one situation – all can be stressful.


…fronts a mic on the PR trail to read their work at a festival or launch.

The MUSICIAN faces an audition, first night or exam.

When examining,the first thing I do to put nervous players at ease is offer them a glass of water. As well as giving them time to relax and regroup, it makes a surprising difference to accuracy and poise!

Under the spotlight, our systems, multiple signals buzz from brain to body. And the electrical and chemical actions of the brain and the central nervous system are conducted by fluid.

Our bodies are made up of about 70 percent water; this is an excellent conductor of electrical energy, necessary to efficiently pass messages between the central nervous system, brain and sensory organs.

In a “normal” day we need at least eight glasses of water – but this should be increased to see us through periods of stress.

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

During challenging times, increased water intake improves:

• concentration

• mental and physical co-ordination

• it alleviates mental fatigue

• increases energy levels

• relaxes for improved communication

• it keeps our brain firing.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking! 

The down-side is frequent visits to the bathroom – another nuisance symptom of performance nerves. Many notice that nerves increase their frequency of urination. Why? The smooth muscle of the genito-urinary system contracts when our sympathetic system is activated. Increased adrenaline rush and resulting cardiac racing can cause diuresis. Such issues are eased if we learn to channel that adrenaline away from such symptoms into energy.

We’re talking HABITS here – the weeks and days before performing

Drink plenty of water earlier in the day, then limit the fluid intake in the hour before performing to avoid the need to go to the bathroom. If necessary, relieve mouth dryness with rinses or gargling. 

from Confident Music Performance

Singers and speakers need to maintain hydration of the vocal folds.

Don’t Freak Out – Speak Out advises:

• Increase water intake. Adopt the singer’s maxim, “pee pale, speak clear”.

• Rehydrate the vocal folds with steam inhalations and a humidifier.

• Humidify your bedroom or work environment, especially during winter.

On-stage, I like to have a water bottle discreetly at hand for a sip between music pieces or movements. This eases another problem that besets performers; dry mouth.


“Water is the only drink for a wise man.” Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

OK, after all your preparation you deserve to unwind with a drink  – after the performance.