An essential guide on conference speaking: How to secure speaking invites, submit speaking proposals and all the things you need to know before you walk on stage
There is a multitude of great books, online resources, and videos available about public speaking. These resources explain the importance of creating a good presentation, about body language, where to stand on the stage, where to look, how to connect with the audience, how to hold the microphone, how to deal with interruptions and more.
If you are a public speaker or interested in becoming one, it is essential that you gain the skills for delivering an outstanding presentation. Some people seem to be naturals: they do not have to prepare much, they do not seem nervous, and with charm and charisma, they deliver an extraordinary presentation resulting in a standing ovation.
Others, like me, are naturally shy and introverted. I am not a natural. I struggle to prepare, riddled with self-doubt and anxiety. But I believe I have something to say. Over the years, I learned to “get over myself” and to use the learned skills that I was not naturally endowed with to be a good speaker.
It is one thing to have something to say, but how do you get others to listen?
This book is not about the “something” that you have to say. It is not about the art of public speaking and the skills you need to be an outstanding speaker. This book is about “getting them to listen.” It is about the steps you need to take to receive speaking invitations, to be recognised, to build your brand. And it is about the crucial things you need to consider before you walk on to that stage.
What will you get out of this book? I have been a public speaker on the international conference circuit for some years now, and I have learned many lessons that I wish I knew about at the beginning. It is these lessons that I will be sharing with you here. Upon completion of reading this book, you will be empowered with the skills to determine the best topics you should be speaking about and also the essential things to remember as you prepare to speak at an event.
The first part of the book is all about your intention, motivation and what it is you have to say. There is something in all of us – be it experience or skills – that others could benefit from. I am making the case that intention is fundamental. If your motivation to speak in public is recognition or a longing for fame, you are sure to fail. But if your intent is focussed on helping others, you will succeed. The intention is important because it lays the foundation for your success as a conference speaker.
The second part of the book is where I unpack the necessary logistics around conference speaking. If you are an unknown speaker, how do you get conference organisers to know about and invite you? I deal with personal brand building and the submission of a successful speaking request. I also touch on imperative aspects around the things you need to know before you speak at the conference: things like travel and hotel arrangements, the day of your talk, sound and presentation equipment, and others. I will also deal with the things to consider after you spoke: like posting your talk info on social media, to further utilise your branding plans.