10 Ways to be a Great Conference Speaker

Image: John Santerre (PopTech)

You’ve been invited to speak at a conference. How can you make sure that your audience gets the most out of our presentation?

  1. Make it Relevant. Think about what your prospective audience want to hear, make it interesting for them, if they are not familiar with your subject then explain it in a language that they understand, give examples, use analogies and tell stories. This help make your talk accessible and memorable.
  2. Show your Passion. This is your chance to show a new group of people why what you do is exciting. Don’t hide your passion for your subject, show it! That passion will intrigue your audience and capture their attention.
  3. Don’t Sell. There’s nothing an audience hates more that people trying to sell their product or company. That’s not why the audience paid to attend and that’s not why you were asked to speak. Pick a topic that will educate and add value to the audience’s lives, it may even indirectly lead to more sales…
  4. Grab Their Attention. Choose an attention-grabbing title, something thought-provoking and enticing, make the audience interested before you even speak…
  5. Get a Great Introduction. This follows on from the attention- grabbing title, a great introduction sets the scene for the audience and gets them excited to hear about your topic. The best way to ensure this is to write your own introduction and give it to the person who will be introducing you.
  6. Don’t Read Your Script. If  you read your script then that will mean that you will looking at the pages in front of you and not at the audience. You won’t be able to engage them and keep them interested in your talk. Rehearse your talk so that you will have no need to rely on the script and more opportunity to engage your audience.
  7. Don’t Make The Audience Read Your Talk. If you are to use presentation slides, keep your slides simple by using powerful images, large fonts and minimal text. Your audience will appreciate it. 
  8. Be Ready For Questions. Look at your presentation script, think about the type of people who will be in your audience and then try to imagine the types of questions that might asked. Show the script to your colleagues, see what questions they have. Once you have all these questions, make sure that you have a solid short answer for every one. 
  9. Don’t Go Over Time. This is a cardinal sin when it comes to conferences, it will mess up the schedule, possibly resulting in other speakers talks being cut short and worst of all, you may delay lunch! With proper rehearsal you can make sure that this doesn’t happen and  if you’re really good you can even end a little bit early and then everyone will love you….
  10. Have fun!