Ways To Speak When You’re Tired and Jet Lagged
1. Drink Caffeine, But Not Too Much
According to Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, chief medical officer at Fusion Sleep Center in Atlanta whose comments were summarized by WebMD, “two cups of coffee…will give you about as much alertness as you’re going to get.”
2. Eat The Right Foods
Michael Breus, a Ph.D. who writes WebMD’s sleep blog, was quoted in the same WebMD article. His advice? Emphasize protein-rich meals and avoid heavy meals and carbs.
3. Stay Hydrated
Journalist Wendy Rose Gould, writing for the Livestrong website, advises you to “Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Even mild dehydration can add to your fatigue.”
According to Dr. William Kohler of the Florida Sleep Institute, quoted by Men’s Health, some light cardio can help. “Exercise helps develop adrenaline release, which makes us more alert,” he says.
5. Take a Power Nap
Okay, so you can’t sleep during your presentation. But if you have a one-hour lunch break, try to find a quiet room to nod off in for a few minutes. Just make sure to set your alarm, or you’ll have to resume your talk before you’ve had a chance to wipe the drool off your bottom lip. Some sleep experts recommend chugging some coffee before your nap, since the caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in and will be working for you when you arise from your brief slumber.
6. Don’t Announce You’re Tired
Sleep deprivation can have similar effects to intoxication, so it’s no surprise that I occasionally mix up my words when I speak on little sleep. I’m known to say things like, “So now let’s focus on body language and how it affects the way your people are received by communications.” That doesn’t happen often, fortunately, but when it does, my temptation is to say, “Hey! I’m doing pretty well considering I only got two hours of sleep!” Don’t do it. There’s no reason to let your audience know that they’re not seeing you at your best, and they’ll feel cheated if you do.
7. Try to Change Your Speaking Slot
When my second flight was delayed, I contacted the conference coordinator and asked her if my slot could be changed if worst came to worst (thankfully, it didn’t). She said that if necessary, she would be able to swap days—and I would have been willing to extend my stay by a night at my own expense. For conference speaking slots, you may be able to get a later slot and sleep for an extra couple of hours. I’d generally say this isn’t possible—but it is in some cases, and it’s occasionally worth asking.
8. Make a Mental Adjustment
There’s a story about a baseball player who tried to get on base as hard as he could, even late in the season when his team had no chance of reaching the playoffs. When asked why he tried so hard when it didn’t really matter, he responded by saying it was because there was some kid in the stands who had never seen him play before. For me, I’m rejuvenated most by giving myself a similar pep talk. Whenever I feel my energy flagging, I remind myself, “These people only get to hear me share this information once! Give them a great performance!”