Being a speaker is intense energy- and time-wise and we can sometimes forget to take care of ourselves as a result.
While there are a lot of guides and posts out there for things like navigating the 'call for proposals' process, making great slide decks, and speaking with confidence, I didn't notice as much out there for the health side of things that we should be keeping in mind as speakers.
Having done a lot of speaking at conferences this past year, I ended up with a small personal list of tips and tricks that have helped me keep my energy levels up in the time leading up to when I have to give a talk.
I hope both new and long-time speakers find this list helpful. If you have some tips and tricks to share, leave them in the comments below!
Manage jet lag as much as possible
If you're travelling across time zones, I'd highly recommend getting Timeshifter, an app that helps you start adjusting your sleep cycle to your destination time zone.
After almost a year of using it for trips from Toronto to Europe and Toronto to Australia, I can say it's definitely worth the $30/year - the jet lag that I've experienced has been manageable all things considered.
Get travel and health insurance
Don't mess around with this, especially if travelling abroad.
It's not uncommon for something unexpected to happen and the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether or not you can get your money back for a cancelled flight you had to pay for out of pocket expecting reimbursement from the conference, or if you can afford to go to a doctor while abroad.
Get a good night's rest two nights before the day of your talk
Thanks to Lee Campbell for this one.
It's unlikely you're going to sleep well the night before your talk because of nerves, racing thoughts, excitement, etc. so getting a good night's rest two nights before the day of your talk is important to ensure you're not feeling too exhausted the day of.
Skip the partying the night before your talk
As fun as it is to go out with other speakers you're excited to meet and get to know, be mindful of when you're getting to bed if the partying is happening the night before your talk.
Being tired and hungover is a recipe for a bad time, especially when you're relatively new to giving talks at conferences.
Follow your morning routine
If that looks like a run first thing in the morning, try to keep that up. If it means reading a book over a breakfast of toast and eggs with a cup of coffee, feel free to indulge in that.
Following the same morning routine you have at home can help you feel calm and centred when you might've just come from the whirlwind of activity that travelling to a conference can be and you're starting to feel the nerves in the time leading up to your talk.
Minimize the sugary snacks - bring emergency protein/granola bars
From what I've seen, conferences are doing a great job of providing healthy eating options for their speakers and attendees. Occasionally though, you may run into a situation where the food options are predominantly pastries - danishes, doughnuts, cookies and the like.
While tempting, avoid them if you can. The energy highs/crashes related to sugar are hard to manage, especially if your talk is later in the day. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a 40-minute talk and the sugar crash suddenly hits you.
Eat as healthy as you can manage in the lead-up to the talk, and bring snacks with you just in case.
Drinking lots of water helps you keep your energy levels up, keeps your voice in good shape, and ensures that your mouth doesn't go completely dry when you're in the middle of a 20+ minute talk.