As a speaker, I know how to handle my nerves, deal with difficult audience members, adapt when there are technical problems and so on. But until recently, I had never been prepared for an attack of the hiccups.
Fortunately, it didn’t happen at a critical time – it happened during a car journey. But I can’t think of anything more frustrating or embarrassing than having hiccups when you’re in an important meeting or speaking to an audience. While it’s a highly unlikely event, we should be prepared nonetheless.
So there I was, sat in the car with my partner, when I got the first hiccup. I tried to ignore it and carry on with our conversation when another “hic!” blurted out mid-sentence. Then another. “Oh, great..”
I tried just sitting quietly and waiting it out but after 5 minutes I was running out of patience. I thought of the common suggestions of how to deal with hiccups. Get shocked – I don’t startle easily. Drink a glass of water upside down – not happening in the car. Hold your breath… Ok, worth a try… Nope, doesn’t work – just muffles the noise.
Then I made an intuitive adjustment that got rid of the hiccups almost instantly. Instead of holding my breath, I breathed out completely and waited as long as possible before breathing in again. My reasoning was that my hiccups were caused by trapped air and diaphragm spasms. So eliminate the air and there’s nothing to produce a hiccup.
I emptied my lungs and waited. I felt a few more spasms and then they started to happen further and further apart. When I had to, I took one breath in and immediately emptied my lungs again. I waited a little more and…
Presto! Hiccups gone.
So, in the unlikely event that you get the hiccups at a bad time, you now know what to do. Of course, you’re still welcome to spill water on yourself trying unconventional drinking techniques if you prefer. I researched other hiccup cures that I could add to this article but decided to leave them out… here are some examples if you want a laugh