I have spoken at precisely one user group and one community conference. I love community, however, and want to offer my perspective on what makes a great speaker from a frequent audience member. These are things I strive to do in my talks, but still don't have down. Each one of these tips has personally affected my enjoyment (positive or negative) of a talk I've been to in the past year.
That Conference call for speakers opens in about a week, so you may not be at this stage yet, getting your abstract ready and such, but keep this handy for when you're preparing for your big day on the conference stage.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Never Complain About the Conference Setup.
Here's the thing: the audience doesn't care about excuses. They don't need to hear why things aren't smooth. Make them smooth. If you can't, move on as best you can. The show must go on.
Give the Audience a Progress Bar.
Never Forget Your Fans.
Never Complain About Your Time Slot.
But never say that to the audience that is there. They have given up their lunch or come exhausted to give you the gift of their time and attention. To learn from you. Don't insult them. Remember, you are happy to be there. You're changing their lives.
Never Diminish Your Subject Matter.
Also, your material was good enough to get you a speaker slot to talk to your peers. Never sell your material short.
Don't Recognize Comings and Goings.
I've seen lots of speakers do it. It's like a reverse heckle of people who are coming in late. "Thanks for gracing us with your presence." Or "Ok, now that you're here, we can start." No kidding, I've heard people say this. People coming and going may be obeying the Law of Two Feet and coming from another sessions they knew wasn't going to be as awesome as yours. Maybe they are leaving yours because they thought it was going to be more basic than you're aiming. Maybe all the bacon has their stomach in a knot. You don't know, so don't give comings and goings any recognition.
There is an exception to the rule. If you have a packed house (good for you!), people who walk in may assume there are no more seats left and stand against the wall or sit on the floor. It's reasonable to interrupt what you're saying to let people know that they can come closer and fill in gaps up nearer the speaker.
Don't Criticize Other Speakers.
Make It Easy to Follow Up.
Those are just some tips I wanted to share with speakers and prospective speakers. Given that the Call for Speakers for That Conference opens up soon. Get out there and speak!