Cotton, or dry mouth, can be caused be many things: anxiety, dry air, certain medications, and just plain talking.
It’s aggravating because it’s tough to talk when your mouth is dry. Your softer, often raspier voice, is harder for the audience to hear and understand.
For some, having that dry mouth, brings on anxiety. This is a good reason for having a plan to lessen it.
The quickest fix is to drink water. Be certain the water is at room temperature. Iced water or hot water, as in coffee or hot tea, is not good for the vocal chords and will worsen the condition. One suggestion is to bring your own bottle of water, and have it at the lectern. Drink just enough to wet your mouth. Don’t drink too much water, or you may have to excuse yourself for a bathroom break!
Lozenges can also provide help. Place between the cheek and gum and experiment with several before speaking. One challenge is the size of the lozenge. When first put in the mouth, they might be a bit large and slightly impede the speech. If this is the case, you can either start with it in you mouth early, or bite it in half. ‘Reloading’ during your talk, should be based on your experience.
Don’t play with the lozenge in your mouth while talking.
Lemon or menthol flavored lozenges are preferred over cherry, which will color your mouth red and could prove a distraction.
Breath strips are also a good way to refresh your mouth. They don’t last as long as lozenges, but are a refreshing and quick fix.
Check your meds, prescription and non-prescription! Some will note their possible side effects can be a dry mouth. If you can delay taking them, do it.
There are artificial saliva products available over-the-counter in a rinse or spray. Toothpastes, mouthwashes, and moisturizing gels that are specially formulated for individuals with dry mouth are also available.
There is a prescription drug, Salagen, that increases the natural production of saliva.
Chewing gum, or anything, will produce saliva. Unfortunately, chewing and eating while giving a presentation, is not acceptable.
The important thing is to be aware that dry mouth can occur, and you want a plan at hand to counter it.
Do that, and my prediction is this.
Your presentation will be:
absolutely, positively – There’s no doubt in my mind – No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Your presentation will be – ‘No Sweat!’