What does a speaker drink? What to drink when you’re onstage.

Cheers! Drink up!


There. I spoiled it. Drink water. You can go back surfing the web now.

Speaking is hard on the vocal cords. Doubly so in an airconditioned environment. Your voice needs lubrication. Water does the trick.

Although I wonder why…

The water you drink travels down your esophagus (the food pipe), while your vocal cords are located in your trachea (the wind pipe). And never the twain should meet – as anyone who ever choked will know.

But water it is.

Why not coffee?

Most speakers tend to be a bit nervous before getting on stage. Some people more than a bit.  When you’re nervous your hormonal glands excrete a whole hormonal mix to keep you alert. Cortisol. Adrenaline. Norepinephrine. They’ll make your heart pump, your cheeks color, and your sweat glands sweat. No need to add caffeine to the mix, thank you very much. Enough is enough.

How about alcohol?

As seen on TV… Some (stand up) artists need a drink to be able to perform. Some keep drinking on stage. Alcohol calms the nerves, right? It loosens the mind.

It does come with some problems though. Addiction (as seen on TV…), a full bladder (alcohol is diuretic), and a perception filter: you think you’re speaking better, but you might be the only one thinking so.

Cola! Orange juice!

Bubbles? Burp.

Sugar? Rush and crush.

There’s enough going on inside your body when you speak. No need to add anything to the mix but water. Although I still wonder how it works to lubricate the vocal cords…

Your power spot


The ancient Greek knew what they were doing. And sometimes you can still be witness of that fact. In ancient Kourion, on Krete, the amphitheatre is still in impeccable shape. Ready for tragedy, comedy, oratory.

And in the middle of the stage, just a bit to the front, is a little hole. If you stand there, your voice gets magically amplified. That is the power spot.

Power spot

Every stage has one. But not every stage has its power spot so well defined as this ancient amphitheatre. No auditory feedback for the modern speaker. You will have to find the spot by gut feeling. Where is it?

Normally you would walk the stage on a line from left to right about one third of the depth of the stage. The exact location of that line depends on the size and depth of the stage, the distance to the audience and the size of the room. Your gut will tell you, except when you think speaking is scary, then it is at least a few steps more to the front.

Right in the middle of this imaginary line, take one full step forward. This is your power spot.

The exact location of your power spot can be influenced by lighting. If you think you found the perfect spot, but your face is in the dark, you either need to move or get better lighting for that spot.

Use it well

In ancient times an orator might have stood at the power spot for the entire duration of the speech. If not, people simply would not hear him. But in modern times we have microphones and sound systems, allowing us to use the whole stage and still be heard. So we don’t need to confine ourselves to just one point. Variation makes the speech more interesting.

So when does the modern speaker use the power spot? When she want to make an impact.

And that means that the power spot is used sparingly. Your key message, packed in your foundational phrase, works well in that spot. Your call to action needs to be right there. For the rest, leave it alone. By using it sparingly it gains power.

Mark with X

A great theatre trick to make sure you find the right positions on stage is by marking them with gaffer tape. You can do this with the power spot as well. A small X where you need stand when delivering what matters.