I spend an average of 150 days on the road per year. For some, that’s an insane amount of travel. For others, it’s a drop in the bucket.
Regardless, many of us will have to give speeches while traveling, and travel can put a lot of stress on your health. Weather delays, sick passengers, and missed loved ones can create physical and emotional stress that comes out in the way you speak and interact with others.
Since August is a time of travel, here are some tips for staying healthy on the road while giving speeches. You can find these tips and more in my new book Speak with Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others, which comes out on October 16!
Pack your speech clothes in your carry-on. I can’t count the number of times my colleagues have had to give speeches in the casual jeans they wore on the international overnight flight because their suitcase was lost along the way. When you can’t always bring a carry-on, make sure you at least have a professional change of clothes with you.
Avoid flying and speaking on the same day. These days, we have to assume there will be delays regardless of weather; give yourself plenty of extra time to arrive and regroup before your speech or presentation. If you’re rushed and stressed right before your speech, you will not have the same level of impact.
Prioritize sleep over exercise. Ideally you’d want both, but if you have to choose one, choose that extra hour of sleep so that you feel refreshed. If you have time, do some light exercise in your hotel room such as push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks. The Johnson & Johnson 7-minute workout is an easy way to get my blood flowing when I don’t have time to go to the gym.
Ship materials in advance as opposed to bringing them with you. Rather than load down your suitcase with handouts, ship everything to the venue in advance so you don’t have to worry about them. The extra shipping cost (and extra advanced planning) is worth your peace of mind.
Bring backups of everything. Using slides? Have two backups: bring a flash drive with the file and send yourself an email with the attachment. For any other visual aids, make sure you have multiple copies available. And always be prepared to present without visual aids.
Always carry snacks. My frequent travel snack is Quaker Oats 2.4-oz oatmeal cups, which are filling and easy to carry on board. For when you really don’t have time to stop and eat right before your speech, all you need is some hot water and a plastic spoon and you’ll have a filling snack to hold you through your speech.
Protect your health. You never know when you’ll start to feel under the weather, so bring your own herbal tea and cough drops to keep yourself hydrated. I always have both in my purse, along with Zicam RapidMelts which I take the moment I start to get a tickle in my throat, and hand sanitizer which I use before eating.
Practice while traveling. Planes and trains are some of my favorite places to practice my speech or presentation. The meditative monotony of a long leg of travel provides lots of time for creative brainstorming or practicing delivery. Check out this blog post I wrote about how to write a speech on an airplane.
Spend time outside. We spend enough time indoors – on a plane or train, inside an over-air-conditioned conference room, or in an office. Take 10 minutes to sit or walk outside and get some fresh air before your speech or presentation. It will help you feel revitalized.
Center yourself right before you speak. Regardless of the journey, take time to center yourself before your presentation. Watch this video I’ve recorded to do 5 simple steps to calm your nerves and speak with impact.
These are a few of my favorite travel tips for when you have to speak on the road. What tips would you add? Email us and we’ll add your suggestions to our list. Wishing you all safe travels this month!