Chris de Diego is a professional public speaker and entrepreneur. His entire career revolves around engaging audiences and delivering amazing speeches. This means he has to nail every aspect of public speaking.
This includes preparation. Whether it’s rehearsing a speech or eating breakfast beforehand, Chris de Diego knows exactly what to do in order to prepare himself for a big talk. People never think about just how much food impacts our ability to give engaging speeches, but it actually has a huge impact on our mental state.
I wanted to figure out what the pros like to eat before delivering their speeches, so I talked with Chris de Diego and interviewed him about his favorite foods.
Water is usually pretty important when we’re looking at performance. In sports, at least, athletes are supposed to stay hydrated. How about public speaking?
Chris de Diego: Water is the most important part of your diet, whether you give speeches or not. There are many reasons to keep a water bottle around.
First of all, it gives you a chance to pause during your speech, which helps pace it out and lets the audience digest what you say. Secondly, it prevents dry mouth and dehydration, which I’m sure you know would make the speech much more difficult to deliver.
I recommend room temperature water since it’s easier on the vocal cords and just naturally goes down smoother.
Chris de Diego: Usually, I’ll eat a light snack. Cashews, almonds, and any kind of nut are really good. They are full of fat, which keeps you full longer and actually increases your brainpower.
Cashews actually help your brain produce serotonin, which is a vital chemical when it comes to presentations and public speaking. You obviously don’t want to be so full that you’re sluggish, but you also don’t want your stomach rumbling and cramping during your speech, so nuts are the perfect snack.
How about beyond snacks? What if you have to grab dinner before your speech? What would you recommend?
Chris de Diego: If I need to eat a full meal before a speech or presentation, say with a client, or just because I haven’t eaten all day, I’ll eat something pretty light. Most of the time, I’ll have salad and salmon.
Trust me; you’re never going to get a stomach ache from eating a nice, healthy piece of salmon. I go light on the dressing with my salad as well, you don’t want your mouth feeling sticky or your stomach feeling like it’s going to pop.
Can you talk more about drinks? Is there anything you recommend that’s not water? Or anything you don’t recommend?
Chris de Diego: Let’s see, if you’re not into water, then Gatorade would be the next best thing, especially if you can get a low-sugar version. Other than that, I’d avoid things that will leave your mouth and throat sticky. Things like orange juice and soda.
Alcohol too, is a big nono, at least until your speech is over. I also avoid over-caffeination. Nothing is worse than being jittery on stage.
Chris de Diego: Well, my rule of thumb is, if you haven’t eaten it, don’t eat it before a presentation. You never know how your body will react. This is a good rule when you travel a lot, and there are a lot of local goodies to try out.
Other than that, I just try to keep it healthy; avoid burgers, pizza, and fries.
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