Five Essential Ways to Prepare for a Conference Talk

Giving a presentation can be a nerve wracking experience, and generally the only way to feel confident going in is do the proper preparation. Whether you have done this multiple times before or it’s your first ever talk in front of a large group, there are some things that you can do to ensure you prepare the right way.

Here are five essential tips that will help you to feel more confident for you talk.

Conference speaker

1. Dress to impress

You might not put too much thought into the way that that you are going to be dressed for your conference talk, but it can make a huge difference to the way you are perceived. The first thing to check is whether there is a dress code at the conference you are talking at – you won’t look great presenting to a room of suits in your casual wear.

As a rule, it is always better to dress up rather than dress down. Smart attire can give you an air of authority and provide you with than extra level of confidence when you present. Of course it is important to dress in something you feel comfortable in too, but you might be surprised at the difference it makes to dress up for your talk.

2. Spend time with the technology

If there is one thing that can really make a conference presentation fall flat, it is when the speaker clearly hasn’t used aspects of the technology before. For example, it is common to see presenters using audience response systems at conferences (like these from CLiKAPAD) and this can be a great way to get the most out of a talk – but it can also go in the opposite direction if you spend most of your time trying to get the system to work rather than giving your talk.

No matter what kind of technology you are using, from laptops and tablets to clickers and microphones, make sure that you have experience trying them out first. In this regard it is always far better to be over prepared rather than under prepared.

Conference talk in session

3. Prepare your audience

Speaking of being prepared; it’s always a good idea to spend some time before the conference preparing your audience for the event. Get on social media beforehand and start putting out some teasers for the kind of stuff they are going to hear at your talk. Obviously don’t give away the whole story behind it and exactly what you are going to be saying, but put out enough information to get people interested.

If you can get people talking about your talk before you have even done it you will create a good atmosphere for the presentation itself. With people coming up with things to ask you and further ideas surrounding the point of your talk it can make the whole event more interesting for both you and the audience.

4. Plan for the Q&A

It is vital for any presenter to do their own preparation as well. Don’t assume that your audience will understand each part of your talk as well as you do – this is what the question and answer session at the end of the talk is for. It’s a good idea to practice your talk in front of colleagues and then get their feedback on the parts that are most in need of clarification or where there are opportunities for you expand your points.

Even if it is too late to change much of presentation you can still prepare for these sorts of things to come up during the Q&A.

Conference speaker giving presentation

5. Learn your talk by heart

Your talk will always come across as far more polished and professional if you can do it without having to read anything. It might seem like the most obvious thing to suggest, but too many people giving a presentation read directly from a script or need to take cues from cards. Take the time to really learn your presentation through practice and repetition so that when you get up on the stage it comes naturally.

Knowing your talk extremely thoroughly will additionally help you to feel much more confident and in control when you are giving the presentation. This will come across in your performance. It does mean putting in a lot of effort, but it will be worth it.