Before You Speak Up, Drink Up

rubio jpeg As I write this, it's less than 24 hours since Marco Rubio's sip heard 'round the world and you've probably seen it 24 times already, but take a look in case you haven't.

I feel badly for the guy - not much fun to get an attack of cottonmouth in front of the entire American electorate - but this was one comedy skit that could have been avoided.

As a U.S. Senator, Rubio should have understood the importance of hydrating. For the rest of us, before any public speaking appearance:

  • Drink plenty of room-temperature water, and keep more water within easy reach. Hot liquids can burn your tongue and ice-cold drinks can tighten up your throat.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, which make you burp.
  • Don't drink a lot of jitters-inducing coffee - and definitely stay away from booze. You might think it'll calm your nerves, but it just thickens the tongue. You can have a celebratory cocktail later, after you've nailed your presentation.

Finally, Rubio made matters worse by the antic way he tried to maintain eye contact with the camera as he reached for the water bottle. Better if he had simply paused, looked off-camera and calmly taken a sip before turning back to the business at hand.  Audiences are more forgiving than we tend to assume; they know that speakers occasionally get thirsty, need to clear their throats, or pause for a breath. If Sen. Rubio had trusted in that, he would have looked less like a thirsty deer in the headlights.