Drink up: Tips for avoiding dry mouth

  • Article by: TAMPA BAY TIMES
  • Updated: February 20, 2013 - 1:18 PM

Photo: McClatchy News Service ,

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Even the most experienced public speakers get a little nervous at times, and that can result in the dreaded dry mouth.

Just ask Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had to stop for a drink of water during his nationally televised rebuttal last week to President Obama’s State of the Union speech. That sip resulted in an explosion of tweets and comments by cable news pundits.

Rubio explained, “I figured I was better off just taking that water and taking the hit for it than being unable to pronounce my words. ... My mouth got dry, what can I say?”

Here are some tips for fighting an occasional bout of dry mouth.

Avoid caffeine or any diuretics: Coffee, soda and other diuretics dry out the body and flush the system. You urinate more and lose fluids. So, naturally, you will struggle more with dry mouth if your system is highly caffeinated.

Establish good hydrating habits: A solid level of consistent hydration is good for your health anyway. Eight glasses of water a day is a common recommendation. Good hydration forms the baseline for your speaking hydration.

Fully hydrate before speaking: Unless you will be speaking for more than an hour, you can fully hydrate without needing to use the restroom. Drink as much water as you can before going up to speak. Your adrenaline will shut down any urge to urinate, causing your body to remain hyper-hydrated while you speak. Be warned though, that when you come down from the adrenaline you will want a restroom nearby.

Eat candy: Eat a piece of hard candy just before you begin your speech to produce saliva in your mouth. Sour candy flavors such as lemon and lime activate the salivary glands especially well.

Have water handy during the talk: Bring a bottle or glass of water with you to the lectern. Take small sips to keep your mouth moist and create a natural pause in your speech, which can help steady your nerves and give you more confidence.

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