First Time Speaker

Congratulations you are going to be presenting your first talk at a conference!

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Here are some tips from myself and friends to help you get ready BEFORE

  • Get an accountability buddy to check in on your progress from now until the event so it's not all last moment.
  • Practice a lot with friends in person or online to test the flow, timing, way you stand, what to do with your hands, making eye contact, etc.
  • You will be nervous, which is why practice is good, people are there because they want to see you, most people won't tear you apart.
  • If you talk fast when nervous, practice breathing exercises.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Consider enabling live text-to-speech (close-captioning) in google slides for the hard of hearing or people who just are away from a speaker or near a crackly speaker. (Microsoft powerpoint is adding this too!)
  • JamSplat "For speakers; _always use the mic properly_, even if you feel awkward. It helps with recording (if that's happening), but more importantly, asking 'can everyone hear me without the mic?' and thus forcing someone with hearing problems to out themselves to the whole room as 'the awkward disabled one' is really mean."
  • MzBat
    • Check out a local toastmaster group or find friends to do a hangout to practice speaking to get honest feedback. Once the audience picks up on how many times you say “umm” or “uh” or “like” it’s very difficult for them to hear what you want them to hear. Practice makes perfect.

Equipment / Supplies

  • If you can, get a presenter stick (it helps you advance the slides while not touching the laptop).
  • Have your slides in multiple formats, and locations, just in case. For example Power Point and PDF, stored locally, on the cloud and on a USB stick.
  • Have a set of adapters for all the normal things from your laptop video out to VGA, mini display, Display, and HDMI.
  • Try to have a laptop that works without power because not all podiums have extra outlets.
  • Bring some band-aids - i have had mics wobble too far from my face to work and had to tape them down using band-aids.
  • Bring some safety pins, you never know.

Your Slides (if you have them)

  • Consider including your name or handle in the footer of all the slides.
  • Consider including your contact details on the first and last slide.
  • Consider limiting yourself to 2-4 points you want the audience to come away with, to keep you focused.
  • Consider sharing the slides (and recording if possible) of the presentation after. Announce that you will be doing this and how (check my twitter, etc). If possible just include a link right in the presentation.
  • Consider - have to tried the SCQA (situation, complication, question, answer) pitch method?
  • MzBat
    • If you care at all about folks paying attention to your talk, please don’t just read your notes. It’s brutal for your audience. I don’t know about others, but there’s a rhythm when someone is reading aloud that makes me want to take a nap.
    • Please limit your bio/intro to like 2 min. People can google you for more. Don’t waste precious talk time going on about yourself instead of the thing you’re there to present. Use a slide timer.
    • If your talk focuses a lot on what NOT to do to be safer from attacks, make sure you spend some time offering solutions. Be ready to answer questions on viable alternatives to the things you’re discouraging.
    • Last one (for now). Please don’t assume everyone knows your acronyms. At first mention, say the thing, then follow with the acronym. This is particularly important if your audience is a mix of public, private, LE, military, etc. Assume no one knows any of your acronyms.

Things to do RIGHT BEFORE

  • Oculothorax "Suggestion: Be prepared enough that you can take the last few minutes before your presentation to rest. Last minute running around will change the way you perform."
  • L4bF0x "I also make sure to cut down on caffeine the morning of because it makes me sound more jittery."
  • Steve@Yegsec "Don't drink carbonated beverages before speaking. I made that mistake once, had to pause to burp like 6 times."
  • Go pee beforehand.

Clothes / Appearance

During the presentation

After the presentation

  • @jack_daniel Reminder of my best presentation tip: my first slide is always hidden, and it is a notes page for me after the preso. I get out of the way quickly after my talks, but then find a corner and quickly make notes to myself on the slide
    • Things like
      • "delivered this in xx minutues, skipped YY section"
      • "Music timing bad on slide 32"
      • "increase font on slide 16"
    • Anything that will help you in the future- whether the talk evolves or even if you never use that deck again.