TMBA 308: So You've Been Asked to Speak at a Conference

TMBA308: So You’ve Been Asked to Speak at a Conference post image

Podcast 35:05 | Download | Stitcher | iTunes | Comment

Don’t panic. We’ve got it covered with Dan and Ian‘s handy guide. It includes: how to handle nerves (yep), slide design, the pros and cons of bullet points and what to do if your Q+A session is greeted by a stunned silence (yep).


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • What we’ve found out about the audience at our conference. (1:52)
  • How Ian feels about his talk at DCBKK (5:02)
  • Ian’s preparation process for speaking in front of people. (6:50)
  • Why Dan hates bullet points. (17:15)
  • Dan’s hack for getting the audience to interact with you (21:47)
  • Dan (once again) secures a room upgrade. (24:20)

Mentioned in the episode:

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

Listening options:

Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.


Dan & Ian

Published on 10.29.15
  • Value bombs, as always. Thanks for the Google Slides link.

  • Oh man I need this one today as I prep to do a talk in 4 days…and would like to NOT panic inside like I did before ours at DCBKK last year ;)

  • Avo

    You can check out, non-profit educational organization for practicing public speaking.

  • great point!

  • we should be getting tips from you! good luck with your talk :)

  • Matt Loberstein

    ” • Why Dan hates bullet points. (17:15) ”

    Hahahaha. Digging the rebrand, looks tight. RIP palm trees.

  • :D

  • Great episode and Imma let you finish but…

    In defense of bullet-points, if the presentation is going to be given out after the event to attendees, pictures only are NOT helpful. Go watch a Slideshare of images only and see if you have ANY idea of what the content was.

    Bulletpoints are fine IF you use them sparingly, and DON”T just read them to the audience.

    [Drops Mic]

    PS – Love the new logo, the font type is tight! ;)

  • fair enough you are better suited for this podcast anyway! your track record is stellar. also you are a master designer, i’m willing to basically add your bio to the about page.

  • Jeff Pecaro

    “I wonder what Jeff’s thinking”

    (oh my god. it’s actually happening. why’d I sit so far from the door? I wonder if people can actually implode…)

  • haha :D

  • :blush:

  • Great episode! Lots of tips I can use to level up my speaking. GOAL: make the slides for my next presentation consist entirely of funny cat pictures.

    BTW in my opinion Michael Erickson had the best slides of the conference. Very illustrative and entertaining as well.

    Episode idea for this event or a future year – in addition to you two talking about DCBKK (and the new speaker interviews), have 4-5 mini interviews or case studies about attendees’ experiences. There’s already a nice thread in the DC about it. Would add a little more depth than just a one-liner testimonial about how cool the confererence was, you know?

  • Whaaaaaat so great to have the podcast back and to hear you’re doubling-down to hit every week from now-on. If I may be so bold, Dan/Ian’s greatest talent might be to be the Ira Glass of this world, and if BKK was an in-person shot-in-the-arm of comraderie and inspiration, the podcast is a small “booster” of the same every week. Also love the inside baseball about Dan’s mini-bar bill. The Man Needs to Ball;)

  • Loved both Ian’s presentation and Damian’s. Both made their style work:)

  • Powerful Jeff Pecaro

  • Thanks. I am in good company if you are including me with “Da Bossman”

  • What about writing all the notes on the slides (in text obviously) and using pictures only? That way the experience of the presentation still gets the benefits of images but people can download the notes with all the text.

  • haha thanks Nate appreciate the warm welcome back! looking forward to spending more creative energy on the show, it’s really fun to create.

  • this is a fine goal!!! :D Agree Michael’s slides were great and I overstated that design here doesn’t matter. I like the idea of gathering clips from the conference that somehow add up to a more cohesive show, as you know we gathered a bunch of interviews and will be working them into the show in the coming weeks! looking forward to it

  • hmm if that works it’s a good idea! i still think slides-as-reference is slightly overrated, especially since any bullet points / text could be approximated very quickly on a website/forum post etc

  • Yeah not a bad idea. My primary point is that bulletpoints are not in themselves evil. Using full sentences and reading from the slide is bad form. Small punchy comments are solid if used well.

  • Nice episode, i was recently asked to talk on a show about e-commerce in Asia, i would have been happy to participate in a Q&A as i felt like i could provide value in that format but i was asked to talk for 10 minutes and myself being a straight talker i always felt as though i wouldn’t have enough to talk about (flor long enough) so i declined in the end but after listening to this episode i think i’ll accept next time and just make sure i prep properly.

  • we used to do short talks as well, they are quite challenging on speakers in some cases you might need to prepare more! but yeah, it’s rare that when people both turn down a speaking AND go to the conference that they don’t regret it b/c speaking at a conference generally helps you to get a lot more value and connections there, wish you the best on the next talk and congrats on being asked! (that’s better than us! ;)

  • No bullet points? Disagree completely….big global statement there, IMO you need a mix, particularly with hard data, instructions or important points I think you need the points especially if the talk is more tactical/tangible versus inspiration and fluff

    Points are very useful as a speaker too…often get way off tangent and the points help bring it back

    Not talking a wall of text but nothing wrong with 3 bullet points on a slide

  • fair enough, I’ll pull back on saying it’s always bad… but i will say this that most of the times I see three bullet points on one slide, I would suggest that the speaker at least try to put each point on it’s own slide and see how it looks, (e.g., first slide “3 THINGS TO REMEMBER” next slide “POINT #1”) then even summing up the three points on a slide at the end… IMO it generally turns out better (although i’m splitting hairs)

  • I guess ultimately it depends but yeah one point per slide is better than one slide and 10 points..tough balance to strike I think and also depends on your personal presentation style

    Probably more important than the slides is the flow and continuity.

    As a general guide I aim for about 1-2 mins a slide on average so 30-40 slides is 30-60 mins of talking. If a slide is too long or two short the flow might need tweaking…also nice to build some sections or breaks so you can slow down, take a breath, drink some water and reorientate as a speaker

    Agree with your thoughts on energy in the room…its fucking tough when the audience has no energy or is non-responsive, especially after lunchtime

  • Blanket Statements are always bad, all the time.

  • makes sense to me!


Next post: