My Tips on Preparing for a Conference Talk

Tip #1 Find a mechanism for calming your nerves

Practice this so you can lean on it. It could be something as simple as breathing with mindfulness. For me, a deep breath in, 7 second breath out. You could also combine that with some mental cues or reminders, “stay calm and speak slowly, you got this”.

Re-enforcing this during practice and dry-runs gives you a foundation, a sure place you can be reference, especially when things get nervy.

Tip #2 Unconsciously competent

You should remember the key points of your talk with unconscious competance. You should be able to deliver your talk in the car while driving, while shaving….you get the point.

Tip #3 Don’t memorize

Don’t try memorize the exact words of your talk as word’s forgotten will introduce more nerves. More nerves will mean sentences forgotten and soon you will find yourself in a downward spiral.

Instead, memorize key points needed to be communicated per slide. Then allow your mind to freely flow on how it chooses to communicate those points. This will keep the talk dynamic instead of scripted.

Tip #4 Prepare for failure

You are going to mess up something during the talk, refer back to Tip #1 (your mechanics for recovery). Think through strategies that would enable you to get back on the right track when you forget something.

Tip #5 Slides should not contain text

Slides should only contain text that re-emphasizes some point to the audience

Tip #6 Give the audience a rally cry

Encourage the audience at the end to take some action.

Tip #7 Ensure your talk has structure

Follow the basics around having introduction, body and conclusion.

Tip #8 Do as many dry-runs as possible

Get your team mates at work to listen to you, sign up a smaller event, have dry-runs at the physical venue, but practice, practice, practice. If you can get on stage - play the day out in your mind. View the audience, walk through how you would stand, talk, think. Do it. Get your body, mind and soul comfortable.

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