How to become a confident conference speaker

This is the final article in the series leading up to my workshop at the IDM's Business Leadership Programme.

The first piece talked about how conference speaking can grow the people and the industry. The second described a process for securing a speaker slot. Let's imagine that you've landed your speaking opportunity. 

Congratulations, this is where your hard work really starts! But fear not. 

There is a set of steps to becoming a confident conference speaker that I call the 4Ps: 

  • Preparation
  • Practice 
  • Performance
  • Personal Confidence

Here are some of the things to be doing and thinking about under each category.


This starts with your plan. Look at when you are speaking and mark the time and day in your diary. Start to consider the time between now and your starting to speak. Working backwards, what needs to happen and by when?

In doing so you are starting to 'own the slot' and get committed. Some key milestones include the following: You should aim to have your slides and text nailed at least 2 weeks before the speaker date and use those 2 weeks to practice. This also means you'll get your slides to your organiser contact on time.

Save the slides on a USB stick and take to the venue with you. Introduce yourself to the other speakers on LinkedIn. Visit the venue go along and take it in, that way everything will feel more comfortable on the day and you'll relax. 


Practice every day. Think about what could get in the way and plan to move around it. For example, print out your script and slides and take them with you wherever you are. When you rehearse, create the environment as it will be when you speak.

If you're going to walk around, walk around. If you're behind a lectern, create a lectern and deliver from there. The first time you run through it, it will sound bad and you'll probably hate it.

This is better than having that happen on the day. Become aware of how you look, sound and feel. Speak in front of a full-length mirror so you can see yourself. Record your performance and listen to it back. Become a student of your own performance.

If you do the work on the first two Ps, the second two Ps should fall into place, almost as if by magic. Ever watch a world class sportsperson performing? How does that happen? Not on the day. It happens bit by bit, day by day, over time. And when they're ready to perform, they do. And that'll be you when you step onto the stage.

Here are a final couple of tips for performance and personal confidence.


To make your performance that bit more real, gather a group of colleagues and present to them. Brief them to critique your performance and also to come up with tricky questions for the end. Check the running time of your material by timing yourself. Be honest. Do you need to cut material? Are you rushing to finish? Are you going slowly enough? If not, check on your pauses and insert more to slow you down.

Personal confidence

A visualisation technique can be really useful to give your confidence a boost. One effective practice is to write out 10 times, "I'm a well prepared and effective speaker because..." and then complete each sentence. Writing it, (rather than typing) is important as it makes a more powerful emotional connection.

Do this around 48 hours before the event and then look at it the night before and then read aloud on the morning of the event. 

I hope you've enjoyed this series of articles and I look forward to working with you on your approach to securing and delivering speaker engagements at the IDM's Business Leadership Programme.

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