You may be a successful leader or a thorough professional, but conquering the art of public speaking at a conference is a whole different ball game. With adequate preparation, you can turn your fear of public speaking into an excellent opportunity to showcase your subject knowledge, experiences, and brand journey.
Public speaking skills improve with time, keeping a few tricks and tips in mind. If you are preparing for your first speech or are a seasoned speaker and wondering how to go about it, don’t worry. We at Eventible have made a list of 10 sure-shot practices for improving how to speak at a conference. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
10 Speaking Tips on How to Speak at a Conference
To become a great speaker, one must develop definite skills. Let’s look at the following tips to boost your confidence and improve your communication skills.
1. Understand the Audience
Knowing your audience will help you prepare your speech accordingly. We have a few specific steps that will help you understand your audience.
To get to know your audience, spend some extra time learning about them before a major conference. Make an effort to interact with your audience during tea breaks or break-out sessions ahead of your speech. It will help you calm your nerves and feel more confident. It may also help you alter your session or emphasize specific points that resonate with the audience. Additionally, it enables you to build networking or business connections for the foreseeable future.
- Categorize your audience into executives, end-users, experts, technicians, and laypeople. Determine your audience’s category and alter the conference presentation style accordingly.
- Additionally, being mindful of your speech is crucial since it determines people’s perceptions of you. Speaking at conferences is a great way to establish your reputation as a thoughtful leader. You would want to leave an impression on your audience. For that alone, try not to demean them to raise your standards.
- Be polite in your conduct and demeanour. When you take out the time to interact with your audience, you get to know demography, which again influences your speech and presentation.
- Once you know them better, it will help you pay attention to things that you may have otherwise ignored before, such as language (whether to keep it formal or semi-formal), use of presentations (an older and more formal crowd would appreciate a PPT presentation but a younger audience may like anecdotes).
- Most conferences require speakers to travel. When they begin their speech with idioms and phrases in the audience’s native language, it could help them create a bond and connection in the future.
- You can review local newspapers, TV channels, magazines, and pamphlets to understand the audience’s pulse. The more you learn about your event audience, the better equipped you will be in writing for diverse conference attendees. Ensure you don’t hurt any sentiments in your tryst to ease conversation or build a connection.
2. Plan well in advance
To become a speaker, you must submit a proposal. Because they know these individuals can be conference drawcards, many conference organizers deliberately reach out to industry leaders with a more significant social media following.
Let the event organizers know early on that you can stand out from the sea of speaker applications since some event organizers publish their conferences all year. Know who selects speakers, and go niche for larger conferences if you need excellent credentials or backing.
Everyone hopes for a glitch-free conference, but some hurdles are inevitable. Last-minute changes such as getting stuck in traffic, bad weather, annoyed sponsors, and other emergencies may leave you stressed. That’s why planning well in advance is wise to mitigate such issues.
- · Choose the earliest session for a conference talk
- · Share your insightful topic with the conference organizers
- · Avoid post-lunch slots, as the conference attendees usually feel lethargic.
- · Avoid the end session because people rush to head back home.
The advantages of planning are:
i) Hassle-free: You do not have to worry about last-minute random changes.You will remain stress-free and can devote time to preparing for the conference.
ii) Liberty to Choose: If you are one of the early birds to book a speaking slot from multiple options, you can choose the one that suits you best.
iii) Virtual Conference: If you’re presenting at a virtual conference, practice using video management and audio recording systems beforehand.
3. Research your Topic Thoroughly
A good speaker requires a good script, which is possible only when you have researched thoroughly. The speaker should explore the subject in-depth. Research is like decoding a mystery.
Firstly, get acquainted with your subject from the beginning to the end. Check out the types of research below: Here are some tips to remember while delivering a speech at a conference:
i) Audience-centric Research: Remember that your speech is not about self-promotion. Your goal is to persuade, educate or inspire your audience.
ii) Avoid Acronyms or Jargon: only use acronyms or jargon if the audience is familiar with the words.
iii) Acknowledge Sources: Acknowledging your sources is essential. As it is ethical and helps you win your audience’s trust. The more you research the topic, the more you can deliver at the conference. It will help you answer tricky questions asked by the audience. Such challenges will help shape you into a brand value and eventually train you on how to speak at a conference.
4. Be Audible and Clear
Your efforts will only be worthwhile if your speech is audible and clear to the audience. You, as a speaker, should be confident, distinct, and transparent while providing your content.
If you maintain a monotonous tone, it will become boring for people to stay and attend your session until the end. You can video-shoot your demo speech. It will help you understand more about sound modulation and body language. Before your conference, you can refrain from having anything cold or undertake voice modulation exercises/vocal exercises to avoid indiscretions.
5. Focus on the Right Attire
Choosing the right outfit is as important as writing your speech for a conference. Your appearance says a lot while speaking at a conference. So, ensure you dress up appropriately. Desirably presenting oneself encompasses selecting an appropriate attire and maintaining a well-kept appearance.
Consider pairing light with dark shades for a stylish look, and comb your hair into a tight bun or ponytail. Please read our article A Comprehensive Guide On What To Wear To A Conference For Men & Women to learn more about such tips.
What you wear goes a long way in building your first impression before the audience. Here are a few things to remember to ensure you’re on top of the game when creating first impressions.
- Be Welcoming: A warm, charming smile can comfort the audience and make you look like you have great moments. It will make you look friendly and approachable. Research suggests that smiling and laughing can help reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety and keep up a good heartbeat.
- Maintain an Upright Posture: Always project a proper posture. Do not physically close off by folding your arms. It displays hostile gestures. While talking, keep your arms at the side and lean slightly towards the person or people you are communicating with.
- Maintain Eye Contact: Do not stare at the floor or feet. Look towards the crowd. If your eyes meet with an audience member, acknowledge them with a smile or nod.
- Refrain from Fidgeting: It’s natural to feel nervous at a conference but don’t allow it to surface on your body/face. Shuffling back and forth, biting your nails, twirling your hair, and other forms of fidgeting will display your nervousness and lack of confidence. Please do not touch your face frequently because it’s a sign of anxiety. Avoid tapping your feet as it may reflect that you are bored or want to escape from the stage at the earliest.
- Emulate Another Person’s Style: Pay attention to other people’s gestures, posture, and stance and try to emulate them. The psychiatrist says that mirroring others’ body language helps build trust and establish a connection while speaking. After all, like we said earlier, how to speak at a conference is a skill that takes practice with time.
6. Make Your Presentation Interactive
The key to becoming a good speaker is to have an engaging script. Primarily, create a well-structured and audience-engaging script. You can refer to the internet to watch TED talks, World class Business Leaders’ speeches, etc., to learn how to do it.
A key attribute to becoming a great speaker is to develop a fool-proof ability to engage the audience.
Keep your conference talk within a particular time limit, as exceeding the allotted time is unprofessional and unacceptable. Follow these steps for an interactive presentation:
- The first step is to create a thesis and a detailed outline.
- Create a strategy for the script.
- Based on the above, create a draft and rehearse it loudly.
- Take feedback from a professional and accordingly create a final draft.
- The more you try out, the more confident you will be on the day.
- Whether there is a podium or not, rehearse it wearing the attire you have decided for the day.
Points to remember before speaking at a conference:
- Don’t be nervous
- Rehearse out loud in front of the mirror.
- Gargle before the conference
- Take a pause and breathe deeply to expand your vocal range.
- Have eye contact with your audience
- Practice before a real audience, such as family, friends, or colleagues.
7. Use Visual Effects
Your slides should contain less text and more statistical data, graphs, pie diagrams, pictures, videos, examples, and generic case studies. Use Slide Share to prepare and present your presentation. Ensure that the PPT is light enough, as it’s your job to explain to the audience and not make them read it.
Your power-point presentation should include the following:
- · Use simple and elegant templates.
- · Keep uniformity in position, colours, and styles.
- · Incorporate only necessary information.
- · Limit the information to essentials.
- · Content should be self-evident.
- · Use colours that contrast and complement.
- · Too many slides can lose your audience.
- · Keep the background consistent and subtle.
- · While illustrating facts or points, you can narrate personal anecdotes.
If you want to keep your audience engaged with your presentation, you need to make your presentation entertaining as well. If you can occasionally earn your audience’s smile or laugh, you know you have won the audience’s hearts.
It will keep them hooked on your every word and action. Another significant aspect of how to speak at a conference is the choice of diction. Modulate the tone and speed of your speech wherever necessary. Be relaxed, and enjoy yourself while delivering the presentation; it will make your audience naturally enjoy the experience.
8. Ask for Written and Oral Feedback
Constructive feedback plays a crucial role in improving one’s skills; the rules are no different when speaking at a conference. It also helps one plan strategies for the future. Read our article on conference feedback. Conference Feedback: Why Is It Important & How To Collect It?
i) Collect feedback before a conference ends: Speaking at a conference can be a whirlwind experience. It will help you understand the background of your attendees on a deeper level.
ii) Restrict the questions in your conference feedback form: long surveys can exhaust participants, often resulting in inaccurate data or incomplete responses.
iii) Read out positive conference feedback: Create a space to celebrate your milestones and positive responses. It will boost your and your team’s motivation.
iv) Insert Rating Question in feedback form: Rating questions help get more straightforward and precise feedback. The audience will likely respond to these questions as this consumes less time.
You can read our articles, 27 Event Survey Questions For Maximum Responses, and Here’s How Pre-Event Survey Questions Can Improve Attendee Experience to know what questions to ask at the beginning and end of a conference/event to get an improved attendee experience the following years.
Do not interrupt them while receiving oral feedback or input. Listen to what they say with an open mind and take notes to keep improving. If you receive feedback from someone younger than you, be humble and accept it with a smile. An engaging speaker encourages audience participation and projects their positive energy onto their audience.
9. Engage with Your Audience After your Session
Engagement with the audience after your session is an excellent opportunity to build relationships with them. Direct feedback, which will help improve your skills, or interaction with the audience could open up opportunities for future collaborations. You can consolidate conversations done after a presentation in the upcoming meetup.
You can follow up and maintain long-standing connections through social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. These platforms can act as great resources for building networks across the world. You could also request them to follow your business website and pages on different social media platforms.
Post-conference local meetups help you to find out for future collaborations.
Pro Tip #1:
i) Try to be a good listener rather than a know-it-all.
ii) Do not try to dominate the conversation.
iii) Refrain from talking over what could have interested the other person, and think about what you can offer in return to that person.
iv) Accept negative criticism gracefully.
v) Refrain from convincing people about your work or what you stand for.
Such an act may give a wrong impression to your audience and lessen the chance of developing a relationship in the future.
Pro Tip #2: Your conferences facilitate a greater understanding of current industry events, allowing industry professionals to network and form new relationships or even helping members earn micro-credentials to advance their professional development.
10. Publish Your Speech Online
The most important task after the success of your speech is to publish it on relevant social media platforms. It will likely increase its reach at a global level. Write a few lines on why and how publishing your work can help.
The platforms for publishing your conference talk are as follows:
- Hashnode Sponsors.
- Upload in the form of reels.
- Various business conference websites.
- Publish it in an academic journal or magazine.
Speaking at conferences is a skill that requires consistent practice and exposure to different speaking opportunities to refine and improve. It’s like any other skill that takes time and effort to develop. Attending events and conferences can be a great way to gain insight into what it takes to become a successful conference speaker.
Additionally, you can challenge yourself by trying out new hacks or activities to improve your speaking abilities. Ultimately, the more speaking experience you gain and push yourself out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll develop as a conference speaker.
Eventible’s Gazebo Speaker Directory will help you find passionate and experienced people to speak at your next event. If you’re an event organizer looking for relevant speakers to speak at your conference, look no further and visit our Speaker’s directory.
Likewise, if you are a speaker and wish to create a page for yourself on Eventible’s Gazebo Speaker Directory, fill out this Google form!