6 Baby Steps To Work Up To A Conference Talk
Like a lot of us in the Australian Cyber Security scene, I attended CyberCon this week.
I had clients I’d been coaching to get Conference ready and I wanted to be there to cheer them on. It was a very proud moment for me to see all their hard work fall into place and see them share their ideas and experience in an engaging way.
If you were watching on as others presented and you’d like to make that happen one day for yourself, here’s a few baby steps to get you started…..
1. LAND A UNIQUE IDEA
I think it goes without saying, but the first step is to figure out what you *would* talk about.
For some of you that will be really obvious. For others, it will require some brainstorming!
Here’s a few things to think about when in this phase. Get lots of ideas out! Don’t edit yet. Brainstorm until you have exhausted all options, then and only then should you figure out which one you’re completely pumped about.
Having an idea that’s different, but also solves a problem for your audience is what you should aim for.
You are unique. We all are.
If you can combine your interesting background and experience into a talk, whilst also addressing an issue your audience are facing (whether they know it or not) – that’s the sweet spot!
2. DO SOME RESEARCH
Some of the best talks I’ve seen are where someone showed us something cool they’d researched or experienced themselves.
When I say researched though, I don’t just mean you’ve found the information from one source and you’re rehashing it. I mean you’ve gathered varied inputs.
Imagine you’re creating a Netflix documentary on your topic…….
What people would you interview, what surveys would you do, what experiments would you perform?
If you approach it like this and you’re excited about gathering these inputs, others will too!
3. WRITE ABOUT IT
It’s amazing how much writing out your thoughts and publishing them helps. Whether it’s posting on social media or writing a blog / articles.
It’ll crystallise your ideas, organise your thoughts & build your brand.
In the early days, writing about what I was interested in (Public Speaking & Storytelling) on LinkedIn was so beneficial.
It helped me unpack topics and ideas. Determine the level of interest people had in certain aspects and what questions they had. It helped me refine my messaging and built my confidence as an authority in that space.
It also showcased to others the knowledge I had in these areas and then had people coming to me, asking me if I could talk at their session/event.
4. GET ON A PODCAST
A great way to build up your experience and credibility as a speaker is to get on Podcasts.
I don’t think it’s widely utilised as a strategy though, by Tech/Security professionals.
Most Podcast hosts are quite happy if you pitch a topic to them, as long as you can show how it would be of value to their audience.
Another hot tip is to offer to send them some questions they could ask you. That’s a win-win too. Saves them time thinking of them and then you have an idea in advance about what they will ask you.
5. SIT ON A PANEL
Sitting on a panel is a great next step, as it’s generally not as nerve wracking. Because there’s other people on the panel, it takes some of the heat off.
In order to prep for a panel (similarly to being on a Podcast), you have to think about your opinion, find stories to share, think of interesting stats that backup your view etc.
It gives you experience articulating your opinion in-front of a live audience.
If it’s in person, it also gives you exposure to sitting on a stage and speaking through a microphone.
6. TALK AT A SMALL EVENT
If you’ve done all of the other steps, your best next step is to give a talk at a smaller event or meetup.
A smaller event is a great way to ease yourself into a Conference Talk, without the pressure of a huge audience.
For this, you’ll get great experience tailoring your content to a specific time slot and audience. You’ll get experience designing your slides. Presenting on a stage (or virtually if it’s all online), handling questions afterwards, etc.
If you’d like to speak at a Conference one day, but you’re not ready yet, start taking these baby steps. By the time you complete them all, you should be feeling ready to take the stage and it shouldn’t feel as daunting.
Has this given you something new to think about!?
Thanks for reading and subscribing,
P.S. If you’d like my help in this area, let me know. I can help make sure you feel Conference Ready. Things I help my clients with include landing their idea, crafting the submission, structuring their talk, making it engaging, designing slides, dry-runs etc).
Emily Edgeley is a Public Speaking Coach for the Technology industry. Since 2017 she’s run over 100 group coaching sessions, coached more than 200 people privately, and formally supported first time and experienced speakers at 10 Conferences, covering 1000+ people across the globe.
She’s on a mission to help anyone in the Tech arena learn how to speak with clarity, impact, and confidence, whether that’s at work or at a Conference. So they can share their ideas, build their brand and start to enjoy ‘public speaking’!