How To Rock Your Next Conference Talk — Part 1

Congratulations, you’ve been selected to present a talk at your favorite conference. The date is approaching quickly. You’re starting to loose sleep. Your talk is ready to go but it’s the small details before, during, and after the talk which are starting to worry you.

Don’t worry. Take a deep breath, count to 3 and exhale.

I started my public speaking journey a few months ago. I also felt nervous and lost sleep before my talks. After presenting at quite a few meetups and conferences I learned to address the small details to help me feel confident giving my talks.

Here are the tips to rock your next conference talk:

Location, Location, Location

Research the location of the talk. Is it a conference hall, a movie theater hall? How big is the room you will be presenting in? What is the lighting like? Get a feel for the layout of the room you will be presenting in. If you feed off the audience’s energy, how far will you be from the audience? Be prepared in advance by checking out the room before your talk.

Tip: See if you can have the temperature of the room turned down. Lower room temperature will keep your audience alert and help you to cool down as well.

Set The Mood

Play some good music for the audience as they are entering the room for your talk. This helps them get pumped up and will also help you relax. Make sure the music has an energetic beat but isn’t too distracting. Need some song ideas? Check out this Spotify playlist of songs you can use.

Tip: The day before your talk, tweet some song options you are comfortable with using the conference hashtag. Ask your audience to pick the song. This is a great way to interact with your audience before the event even starts.

Engage With Your Audience

Before and after your talk, engage with the audience through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Promote the conference as much as you can. Trust me the conference organizers will appreciate it. Share your talk using the conference hashtag. This is your chance to get the word out. After your talk has ended you should continue the conversations and stay engaged with attendees of your talk.

Tip: Reach out to other speakers and attendees. Meet up for coffee or lunch. Don’t be shy. This is your chance to make some lasting relationships.

Be Prepared but flexible

Adding to your talk at the last minute can be a great way to adjust your talk to the conference. Making connections to other talks your audience has heard is a great way to show you are present and attentive. Be aware though and think through any changes from start to finish. For example, if you are adding an audience interaction, you should think about the whole interaction, from beginning to the end so you aren’t caught off guard by unforeseen events.

Tip: Most attendees will see the keynote. Try to take one point made by the speaker and weave it into your talk. Yes, this will be a last minute addition but it will be worth it.

Hook’em right from the start

The opening of your talk is critical in setting the tone for your talk. It’s easy to fall into the trap of first introducing yourself, your company, then going through the agenda and then getting to your content. You can bring those slides after you have hooked the audience. Imagine opening with this statement:

“I want to discuss with you this afternoon why you’re going to fail to have a great career.” (Ted Talk opening by Larry Smith)

That’s how a hook can grab the audience’s attention.

Tip: Capture the audience’s attention with a question, a bold statement, a quote from an influential person or try one of these hooks.

Giving a presentation doesn’t have to be difficult. By addressing the details you can make sure your next talk will be amazing. Now go out and rock it!

That’s it, for Part 1. Want more tips? Read Part 2 of How To Rock Your Next Conference Talk


Do you have any tips you would like to share? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments!