Introverts Should Avoid Caffeine Before Important Meetings, So Use These Techniques Instead

You might reach for a cup of coffee to pep you up before a big presentation at work, but depending on your personality, that might not be such a good idea. Some psychologists think introverts perform worse after ingesting caffeine, so if you’re shy you should hold off on the java until later on in the day. This comes to light in psychologist Brian Little's book Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, New York Magazine's Science of Us blog reports.

If that sounds backwards to you — wouldn’t you want a bigger caffeine boost if you’re introverted? — let me explain. Hans Eysenck’s theory of extroversion, coupled with recent research, claim that introverts and extroverts differ in their brain’s level of alertness and responsiveness to their environment (in scientific terms this is called neocortical arousal). Basically, everyone has an optimal level of arousal (not like that, get your head out of the gutter), and introverts start off more easily stimulated by their environment, while extroverts are less stimulated to begin with.

What does this have to do with coffee? Well, they say the reason introverts should stay away from caffeine before an important event is because the caffeine over-stimulates the brain, bringing you further from your optimal level. This could cause their performance to suffer, especially if they’re doing a quantitative task (like budget projections or data analysis) under a time crunch. On the other hand, since extroverts are less stimulated to begin with, they can handle the extra boost and will actually benefit from caffeine.

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Don’t worry, you don’t have to swear off Starbucks for good (I’m not a monster), you should just hold off until after your super important thing. Also avoid other foods with caffeine (duh), and noisy, overcrowded places because those will give you the same sort of unwanted stimulation.

So instead of reaching for that mug, here are some things you can do to prep yourself for that big presentation instead, regardless of your personality type:

1. Take a Deep Breath

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Or several. Breathing deeply by contracting your diaphragm triggers the body's automatic relaxation response and can help you perform better. You probably knew this one already, but that doesn't make it any less important.

2. Be Mindful of Your Body Language

Crossed arms make you appear defensive, and crossed legs might make you look nervous. Perfect your power stance, then kill it!

3. Be Positive and Smile

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Smiling relaxes your body and releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't bomb their presentations.

4. Visualize Your Success

Research has shown that mental practice (i.e., imagining yourself speaking up at that meeting) can be just as effective as physical practice (i.e., practicing your talking points). "If you can see it, you can be it," "if you believe it, you can achieve it," etc.

5. Drink warm water

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Drinking water helps with dry mouth and helps eliminate mucus buildup so you don't spend 30 seconds clearing your throat (awkward). Ice-cold water can make your vocal chords constrict and your voice sound hoarse, so try to stick to room temperature H2O if you can.

Images: Fiona Henderson / Flickr; Giphy (4)