Ten Commandments for
Speaking engagements at technology conferences can be very powerful venues for developing new ideas, discussing your perspectives, networking with peers and buffing up your resume. Success comes to those who focus on learning and who treat the audience with respect.
I. No Pitching
Conferences are for education -- and a little entertainment -- not promotion. The audience is paying with money and minutes to get your information, experience and perspectives. Don't cheat them by pitching your product, giving a commercial spiel, promoting your company or trashing your competition.
In the best conferences, if you pitch, you're out. Your audience will probably walk out on you, and they'll tell all their friends what a waste your session was.
II. Read the Brochure
Give the seminar that people came to see. Too many speakers spew canned material that doesn't fit the context. The brochure is your contract with the audience; it's your responsibility to deliver.
III. Be On Time
It's most important to start on time, but plan your presentation so that every important point gets the appropriate stagetime before you end -- on time. Don't spend the first 45 minutes on intro fluff and then cram all the important ideas into the last 15.
IV. Be Readable
Make sure your slides and handouts are legible to everyone. You know you've lost when you have to say: "I know you can't read this slide, but there's some very important information here."
V. Keep the Energy Up
Shout, move around, gesticulate: do what you have to do to keep the energy in the room up. If you're funny, tell some jokes. If you're angry, yell. If you're sleepy, mumbling, or not very interested, stay home.
VI. Build A Story
Interesting seminars are a series of problems and solutions, ups and downs that keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Hold some things back for effect. Beginners often tip their hand early and are stuck with repeating their key points over and over to fill the hour.
VII. Be Clear and Avoid Tech Clichés
Don't assume everybody knows what you know. If you give an acronym, immediately follow-up with the definition. If you mention a person, give a title and affiliation. Keep the inside jokes and smirking sub references to a minimum, and keep away from hoary canards like "Content [or community, commerce, context, etc] is king," "It's all about communication" and any variation on "If you build it, they will come."
VIII. Get Out of the Room
Conference rooms are ugly places, and great speakers project the audience's attention into the outside world with anecdotes, slides, photos and videos that make the ideas and stories more tangible than their gray institutional surroundings.
IX. Dress Nice
Make the experience special: Always dress better than your audience, have your shoes shined, your hair cut and your best foot forward. Show that you care about being on stage and making the day memorable.
Leave behind a paper handout or -- better yet -- a Web page link so that people can contact you afterward. Make the link live so that there's a reason for people to click back again. A successful presentation is only the beginning of your relationship with the audience.\\
Since its publication in 1999, this list has been picked up by many business educators: Michael Hough's book The Profitable Trade Show, web sites like FastCompany.com and TechnoSkills, and educators like the Association of Business Media.