How to prepare for a talk


Next week I am going to Zagreb and speak.

I am pretty excited. The topic is about speaking itself. It is one of the few non-technical talks I was giving so far. While I usually feel pretty comfortable to speak about software, I was not that confident when the “Why should you talk talk” was selected.

Don’t get me wrong: I see it as a fantastic opportunity to improve my speaking skills. On the other hand, I knew my usual preparations were not enough.

For the first time, I wrote a full script with what I wanted to say. Usually, I just make up some keywords and let the words flow. In this case, I needed to dig a bit deeper. I was uncertain if I could reach the 20 minutes.

Wikipedia says, slide presentations have a pace of around 100-125 words pre minute. For twenty minutes, I would need 2000-2500 words. I didn’t plan complicated slides, so I aimed at 2500.

I wrote the full script. For some reason, I found out I had something to say. I did not even cover anything that came to my mind and had to shorten down the text.

Then I recorded it. It has 19 minutes when I speak at a decent pace. I guess I will speak a bit quicker on stage, but I also might have longer breaks between. In the end, I decided not to add something. I was happy with the content. If it’s a bit less than the expected time, well, why not?

Then I sent the script and the audio file to my editor. Zach was awesome and gave me valuable feedback on my speech. I learned that “hook up with me” was probably related to sexual activities. I am so happy I asked him, I can’t tell :)

Since I had the suggestions and the text, I started with my slides. They are simple and just show hints. I don’t want to distract the visitor. I have just one or two words on a slide, and a nice image.

I started to listen to my recording when I am out for long distance running. And I printed the talk. The next week will be short - there is plenty to learn.

I use the next three days to familiarize further with the content. Starting on Sunday, I try to speak more and more from the mind.

I have not prepared enough, but this kind of preparation makes me feel “safe” and confident. Let’s hope my audience is as happy with my talk as I am in the preparation phase already!


The talk is done! You might want to read more about it in the post: How long did I prepare for my talk?

Tags: #Speaking #Conference #WebCamp