Public speaking can be enormously empowering and fulfilling. I have spoken at quite a few international conferences – I always reflect on what I’ve done right and what’s been done wrong after the conference, but not once have I covered how exactly do I prepare for them.
I do not overload the slides with content
Overloading slides with content is one of the top no-nos when doing any form of presentation. The audience either listens to the speaker or reads the content, but doesn’t do both.
I make sure I do not read from the slides
Slides are a good thing. Looking at them constantly during a conference talk is not. By constantly looking at the slides, the presenter loses a connection – a vital
connection – with the audience. When presenting at conferences, I’ve saw this pattern repeating over and over again – some presenters build content that looks awesome, but it’s not so good when they open up a slide and proceed to relay everything – word by word – to the audience. I do everything I can to ensure that I avoid that mistake – I rehearse the talk as many times as it takes for me to be confident of its contents before actually presenting it at the conference.
I do not edit on the spot
This is another point I’ve always wanted to mention when talking about conferences – every speaker makes mistakes, but they’re never looking good when they come up onto the stage to present something, realize they made a typo in one word and then proceeds to correct it afterwards. You’ve made a mistake in one word – there’s nothing bad about it! A speaker trying to edit slides on the spot might end up leaving a wrong impression on the audience – people might think that the speaker prepared the slides in a rush, did not rehearse the talk, etc.
I do not stand in one place
Gestures and hand motions make the speaker alive, moving around allows the speaker to interact with various segments of the audience and by doing so the speaker does not end up looking like a statue – of course, I make sure I do not exaggerate, but both moving around and utilizing gestures present an enormous amount of leverage – both allow the speaker to better interact with the audience and leave a better impression.
I throw in memes
Humour is a great thing – it’s even more so when the speaker utilizes it during a talk. While I do not see memes being used in many conference messages, there are occasions where utilizing those certainly makes sense – again, I make sure I do not exaggerate on using them, but they’re another weapon I possess in my arsenal and can use when needed.
I make sure there’s value in all of my talks
When I present at a conference, I always make sure people can take away something that they’ve learned and can use. In other words, I always make sure there is practical value in all of my messages – without it, the conference message becomes next to useless.
Different conferences require different approaches – there are multiple things speakers should, could and shouldn’t do and in my opinion, all conference messages can be improved in one way or the other. That’s completely fine – as long as speakers analyze and strive to make their talks better, they will continue improving. That’s one of the reasons why public speaking is so valueable – a speaker has the chance to improve. There are multiple other good sides to public speaking, one of them being that all public speakers contribute and so on and so forth. So if you ever have a chance to speak publicly, go ahead and do it!