Tips on Being an Effective Conference Speaker by the Experts

Through the years I have spoken with many people who are tempted to pitch for a speaking spot at a conference. I know that although many people may pitch well they may not do well at the podium. For some it is not easy to speak in public and it really is not easy to be an effective speaker at a conference in front of all your peers.

I contacted some people I consider conference experts and they have some advice if you are going to speak at a conference.

Danny Sullivan  – @DannySullivan

Well, Chris just did a long post of what not to do for us:

I suppose the key question is what does the speaker consider successful? The speaker may have a different view than the audience.

If your goal in speaking is pitch your company as much as possible, that might be deemed a success by you but probably not the audience. They didn’t come to learn about your company. They didn’t come to hire you. They came to learn.

To me, your success as a speaker happens because more than anything else, you do it out of a desire to teach, to share knowledge and to help others. If you’ve started from that standpoint, you’re far along the path to success.

Speakers often speak, of course, because they want to get something more than just satisfaction of sharing out of the talks they give. I think wise speakers understand that when they’re not pitching, when they’re educating, they’re demonstrating that they have great skills that others could use.

You’re not “giving away” away anything other than the fact you’re a smart person that someone might want to hire. People come to learn, but they may also learn that they’d rather have someone else work for them. The best pitch is no pitch at all.

Beyond not pitching, your success comes from your ability to show, rather than tell, as much as possible. People like specific examples, exact information on how something happened, a process they can see rather than generic bullet points they can read. Takeways may sound cliché, but that’s what people want.

Not all panels are tactical, of course, so the ability to see or share a big picture view of coming changes, something different or unique, is also welcomed.

Find Danny at Search Engine Land, Daggle and

Barry Schwartz  – @RustyBrick

I rarely speak, but the main thing is to know what you are talking about. So much so, that you can give the presentation without even preparing. Not that you shouldn’t prepare. But I would only speak on a topic if I know I can give the presentation without having to prepare. :)

Find Barry at, and He will also be at SMX Israel in 2012.

Marty Weintraub  – @aimClear

There are no substitutes for hard work and authentic sharing. We think the best tactic is to invest research, time and be willing to truly offer up current, relevant tactics. The more a speaker is willing to give, the better. We invest a lot of time pitching sessions, speaking proposals and building the presentations.

Melissa Fach

Melissa Fach

Melissa is the owner of SEO Aware, LLC. She is a consultant and trainer helping companies make the most of their content marketing and SEO. She specializes is the Psychology behind blogging and content marketing. Melissa is also an associate on the Community team at Moz, an associate and writer at CopyPress and an editor at Authority Labs. She is a self-proclaimed Star Wars and Internet geek and volunteers with big cats at
Melissa Fach

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One thought on “Tips on Being an Effective Conference Speaker by the Experts

  1. I agree with Henshaw that it’s all about your audience. Too many speakers fail to analyze their audience. An audience inventory is a great way to learn about your audience. Using this specialized information will help you select an appropriate topic, content, visuals and format. A common practice of politicians is to relate to your audience by identifying with a local college or professional sports team. I remember a politicians who failed to do his research and named the wrong team. The audience booed. Don’t forget your audience.