A Beginners Guide to Speaking at Conferences

I’ve had the honour of speaking at a fair number of conferences and I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two in the process.

In this blog post, I’ll share a few things to keep in mind if you are going to speak at a conference in person.

If you are looking for public speaking tips, check out my blog post on 11 Public Speaking Tips You Might Not Know.

If you are looking to be accepted as a speaker at a conference, check out Rob Lambert’s guide.

1. Feel free to ask the organisers questions beforehand

The organisers want you to succeed as you giving a great talk helps make it a great conference.

If there is anything you want to know, shoot them a message.

If you’re lucky they will have sent you a bunch of information on what to expect, but you may still have some lingering questions.

Here are some examples of questions you could ask them:

2. Microphone set-up

There are a few ways this can go. It can either be pinned to your outfit, a podium or a handheld microphone.

Ask the organisers before your talk what it will be, I’ll go into each of these in a bit of detail.

Pinned/clipped to your outfit


Handheld microphone

3. Presenter notes

I’ve often relied on presenter notes to help me out in certain parts of my talk.

All, but one of the conferences I have spoken at, had presenter notes available.

It helps to double check with organisers that you’ll have a way to view your presenter notes.

Either they’ll be at a podium (or a high table), or they’ll be on a screen in the ground in front of you (visible to you but not the audience).

4. Lighting

If you are on a stage, depending on the lighting you may not be able to see the audience and may only see a bright spotlight.

This can be difficult as you won’t be able to see audience’s reactions during your talk.

I haven’t been at a lot of setups like this, but I have found them a bit disorienting because it meant I didn’t know if what I said “landed” or not.

5. Questions and Answers section

6. After your talk

Edit: Adding a few more things.

7. More Useful Things to Keep In Mind

Man speaking at conference on stage.