Oh, fall, how I do love you! I’m a huge fan of everything pumpkin. But fall isn’t just about cooler nights and pumpkin spice, and it’s the beginning of conference season. No matter what field you’re in, the opportunity to speak at a conference is a huge advantage. Being chosen to speak automatically positions you as an expert in your field. How can you get the most out of your speaking opportunities?

Here are our top tips:

1. Schedule a call with the conference planners to get some tips. Often they’re willing to share information if you ask. Find out the approximate attendance for your class (for handouts), the room set up (theater, classroom, rounds), and the AV that is available. Ask if you’ll have access to an attendee list either before or after the conference.
2. Confirm with the conference planners the length of your talk, and any guidelines. If you plan on selling from the stage (a new coaching program as an example), be clear about the rules on this. If your timeslot is 60 minutes, aim to wrap up a bit early.
3. Depending on the type of conference it is, there may be a lot of selling from the stage, depending on where you are in the session timing (first day or last), your attendees may be tired of being sold to session after session. Strategically position your sell, so it involves complementary resources, not just items for purchase.
4. If your presentation involves slides, and you’re using your laptop, bring various adapters (HDMI/VGA), so you’re not waiting for the AV team to help you out (cutting into your presentation time).
5. Bring your slides on a USB drive, just in case. If your laptop is being temperamental, having a backup copy that you can easily access is a lifesaver.
6. Arrive at your session room early to check the layout.
7. Use your talk as a list building opportunity, not just an opportunity to sell. Create a complimentary lead magnet that you can offer attendees in exchange for their contact information.
8. If there is a microphone provided, use it.
9. During Q&A, always repeat the question before answering it, so everyone can hear what was asked.
10. Practice your talk for timing and flow. And then practice again. You don’t want to seem over-rehearsed, but you also don’t want to seem rushed. Summarize key points on your slides to keep you on track, but don’t be dependent on them.

And a bonus tip – and perhaps one of my favorites. As long as you stay within the designated dress code, wear something unique, we’re not talking a feathered hat here, but a vibrant shirt, that will stand out from other attendees/speakers. This way, when you’re in the coffee shop later in the day or networking outside of your session, your attendees will easily recognize you and are more likely to approach you. It’s a subtle trick, but it works.

What are your speaking challenges? Are you looking for new ways to get the most out of your next gig?

Happy Conference season!

By Peggy Murrah, Founder of PMA Web Services

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Murrah is a unique combination of web and marketing savvy, along with dependability and resourcefulness. These qualities have been instrumental in her building a successful business that serves clientele across five continents. PMA Web Services provides marketing direction and strategies for entrepreneurs through mentoring, social media marketing, list building and management, and development/maintenance of their online presence.