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Foods to avoid before giving a speech

Foods high in sugar or with stimulants like caffeine can impair your voice and affect the quality of your presentation
Photo: dinostock, Design: Carma Spence

When you're before an audience, you want your voice to be at its best. In addition to rest and vocal warm-ups, there is another thing that Long Beach speakers need to be aware of: foods that can have a negative effect on their voice

Some foods naturally increase phlegm, while others may cause you to loose your train of thought. You should avoid these foods before giving a presentation.

Here is a list of foods that commonly cause problems for speakers. Of course, all of them may not have the same effect on you. But, to be safe, you should avoid them anyway.

Foods that increase mucus
Increased mucus in your throat can cause you repeatedly clear your throat and sometimes even block your voice all together. Foods that can increase mucus or phlegm include:

  • Refined sugars
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Soft drinks
  • Hot spices
  • Chocolate
  • Iced drinks
  • Alcohol

Food allergies
When you are allergic or sensitive to a food, the first symptom is often increased mucus or phlegm. Become aware of foods that you are sensitive to. Here are some foods that people can be sensitive to:

  • Citrus
  • Wheat
  • Shelfish
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Spicy foods
  • Berries

Stimulants and depressants
Have you ever seen a speaker that spoke to fast? Or a speaker who seemed half asleep? Chances are they consumed something that had a stimulant or depressant effect on them. Foods that cause you to speed up or slow down can affect your train of thought, as well as your voice. Here are some foods that have these kinds of effects:

  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated soft drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Chocolate

Energy drainers
When you get up to speak, you want your energy to be high. Therefore you want to avoid eating a heavy meal or poultry, both of which can slow you down. It is best to avoid eating right before a presentation, but if you have to, eat a light, high-protein, low fat meal for increased energy.

Would you like more information about public speaking? Visit for tips, advice and plenty of videos about all the "powers" you can employ in your speaking endeavors.

NOTE: Are you a Long Beach based speaker? Do you know of an upcoming speaking event? Contact me to have an interview with you published in this column.

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