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How to Become an Effective Conference Speaker

Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte. Neither are we all born with extraordinary oratorical skills. But we definitely can learn and acquire these skills to demonstrate and express our expertise, in the subjects of our interest, in front of a large audience.

Preeti Taneja

@ Entrepreneur | Posted 31 Aug, 2018 | Education

Posted By: Preeti Taneja (Updated 31 Aug, 2018)

How to Become a Confident (and Effective) Conference Speaker?


Did you know more people are scared of public speaking than death? *faints*


Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte. And if this is your first time, no kidding, it’s going to be a nerve-wracking experience for you.  


To that, speaking in conferences is much different than, say, speaking to a bunch in class or a large group of friends. Because these attendees already know about the particular topic that you will be discussing from back-and-front.  


They know the basics—and they would be expecting a lot from the speaker. This adds another chip on your shoulder. You simply cannot stick to the ho-hey stuff, orate the ABCs, and be done.  


And, and, if the conference includes the Q/A session, which has become quite common—times your wrecked-nerve and minus all your composure. Because it’ll be that daunting! 


But then again, just because things are uphill doesn’t necessarily mean you will fall. And besides, history teaches us: every great fluency begins with the anxiety-driven flow.  


Meaning, sure it will be scary, but it doesn’t mean you will definitely screw. And regardless of how the session goes, you will only end up learning aplenty for your next embark. Hey, Sandeep Maheshwari did that! Now India’s leading motivational speaker, he was cowering on his first public speaking gig. 




Now, look how far has he come.  


You can certainly follow his suite and champion speaking at conferences, regardless of where you are right now. It just requires your determination and persistence. Once you bring these to the table, the rest will follow.  


Try our online discussion forum Let's Diskuss for more such information. 


So, if you’re nearing a conference where you’re speaking – first time or no – relax! Deep breathe, take up positive affirmations, and follow these 10 expert advices on how you can conclude a kickass session that people thank you for: 


1.​Don’t SPEAK if you’re not an expert or demonstrator  


Let’s get this off the bat. Do not speak at conferences if you’re not an expert on that particular topic. Or, if you aren’t demonstrating your personal experience that is of value to the attendees. Brutal as it may be, if you aren’t the either, conferences aren’t right for you for now.  



2.​Answer these basic questions before practicing


Before moving ahead – once you’re sure you should speak at the conference – there are several questions whose answers you must keep at the very centric of what you do next. Here 5 important questions here:

(i)​Who is your target audience?

(ii)​What do they want? 

(iii)​Why should they listen to you? 

(iv)​What valuable (and exclusive) you’re offering your audience? 

(v)​Is your speech worth their time? 


Write down the answers to these and make sure you hit all the chords perfectly till the ‘big day’. 


3.​Prepare the presentation/sliders first  


Your presentation will be your ultimate guide and a reference-view for the audience. So, jump to make the sliders at the earliest. Here are few basic tips: 


•​Keep text at minimal; avoid paragraphs 

•​Don’t overdo the design  

•​More whitespace the better  

•​Maintain uniformity in font style, size, weight, and color 

•​2 slides per minute are ideal (but it depends on your style and topic) 

•​Show it to family and friends for feedback 

•​Give value in each slide; avoid redundancy or common stuff 


4.​Listen to your favorite speakers and take note 


Look at your favorite speakers and see how they create the magic in conferences. The individuals don’t specifically have to be from your niche.  


Observe how they carry themselves through the session (their hand movements, facial expression and the way they walk). Take note of their speaking speed, the number of pauses they take, their overall tone and the selection of the words.  


You don’t have to copy them entirely. Just write down all the key points that you think make them a killer speaker and then try to implement those points in your own way.    



5.​You’re not Tony Robbins and Gary Vee  


Understand that you will screw things up and there are plenty of things that might go wrong. So, keep a big check on your expectations with smaller but definite goals of what you personally want to achieve from speaking at such conferences.  


You’re not Tony Robbins and Gary Vee. Don’t attempt (and expect) to replicate these phenomenal speakers. They bring an unparalleled level of enthusiasm, energy, and experience that’s hard to match. Besides, these are what we call ‘naturals’. They have been good right from the get-go. 


In short, walk one step at a time, keep your goals small and don’t expect to become a speaking magnate in just a couple of trials.   




6.​Remember this general rule of kickass speaking 


Why do you think people are attending this conference? Just for the info? They could have got that even on the internet, couldn’t they? 


Such addresses to knowledgeable industry-people aren’t just about the plain information—they want entertainment as well. Look at any successful speaker, you would find their speeches filled with effortless jokes, light humor, and interesting storytelling.  


In fact, speaking at conferences is 60 percent entertainment and 40 percent information. Remember this general rule and you would be a kickass speaker. 



7.​Make it an interaction—and not a monologue  


It’s not an elocution competition! Speaking at such events isn’t about how well you speak but how fluently you interact and engage your audience. The more immersed people are in what you are saying, the more effective will your speech be.  


So, throughout the dialog, plug several questions in. Make your choice of words conversational; shift your tone. Leave your sentences open-ended with the likes of “isn’t it” and “wouldn’t you”.  


Ask direct questions to your audience. Push them to participate by raising their hands or standing up. Ensure they are taking an active part throughout the talk with such tactics. 


8.​Focus on connecting the dots  


When talking in such events, losing track of what you’re saying is quite easy. With hundreds of people staring at you and you desperately trying to prove your worth—it’s common, in fact. So, keep a check on this.  


You cannot jump from one slide to another without connecting the dots. Such inconsistency in your message usually leads to confusions and errors, shaping the audience’s experience poorly.  


Make sure the slides are connected to each other—as in one supplement the others. And above all, ensure what you’re saying is consistent to the slides and what you’re trying to explain fits in the larger picture.  



9.​Don’t worry about looking too advanced and intelligent  


Again, such conferences are attended by people who already know. They will know a lot about the topic that you will be discussing. So, you need to tell them things that they don’t already know or try to solve their problems that they themselves can’t fix. 


For this to happen, you need to look more knowledgeable. Like so many people, don’t be afraid to look one. Maintain a fine line between humility and arrogance, and then plug in advanced theories and concepts in your conversation. Explain what you’re trying to say clearly—but don’t be apologetic if people don’t understand you.  


Remember, you would rather have people come to you and apologize for not understanding THAN you going to people and apologizing for keeping things very basic.  


10.​Speak as you blog (just like you blog as you speak) 


It has well been observed that speaking comes fluent to good bloggers. Because they usually blog like they are talking to someone in person. So, if you’re a blogger, speaking in public would be relatively easier for you since you’re already used to addressing thousands of people.  


Much like how you blog, when talking at the conference, be casual and conversational. Take enough pauses and breathes, which are equivalent to paragraph changing. Stress on certain points like italicizing and bolding words on blogs. Throw in smart numbers and facts to grab attention.  


And above all, just like the first 50 words of your blog introduction is extremely (extremely) important, the first 30 seconds of your speech with be very critical in deciding how the rest of the session will pan out. So, be careful and very selective. 


These are 10 kickass tips and expert advice that will help you master the art of speaking at the public conferences.  


Remember, talking at such events is a challenge. The audience is educated, you’re trying to prove your knowledge and the end Q/A sessions could go against your plans. However, if you know decent in your niche, practice enough in front of the mirror and just go ahead and do it without obsessing the “what ifs”, you would do absolutely fine even when it’s just your first time. 


Read more such blogs on Let's Diskuss