13 Questions for the Procrastinating Speaker

Written by Ellie Thien

September 26, 2017


You’re locked into the conference agenda, the materials are printed, your bio and headshot are submitted – there’s no turning back now. Sure – when the request email came in eight months ago, this sounded like a great idea. But now you’re so busy it seems like cruel and unusual punishment to even consider this extra work.

Don’t worry – TCC is here to help. Here’s a list of essential questions to ask yourself to get prepared in no time. You can do it!



  1. Can I get a roster?

Know who you’ll be speaking to. Who is the conference targeting? What industry are they from? What level are the people who registered? Do you have a specific breakout or time slot where you can get names?

  1. What material are you requested to deliver?

Ask yourself what about your message is most important to the audience and conference leaders. It’s critical to know how your talk has been marketed to avoid a bait and switch. You owe the people what they signed up for.



  1. What’s my main point? What do I want them to walk away with?

Stick to one – or very few – main points you want your audience to walk away with. Be able to say it in a sentence and make sure it’s always at the center of your presentation.

  1. What’s my opening?

If you can nail the first few minutes, you’re on the right track. Think of an intriguing story to include, a purposeful fact, or simply your main headline and go from there.

  1. What questions or critiques can I expect?

Find out beforehand if there will be a Q&A session after your presentation. Be prepared for tricky questions, critiques, or challenges and make sure to always keep your central message the focus.



  1. How long do I have?

Knowing this beforehand is absolutely necessary. Stay within your time limit out of respect for the conference coordinators and your audience.

  1. Do I need handouts?

Will you be presenting to a room of 200 or a smaller group of 20? Knowing the size will help determine what you need to bring.

  1. Should I use a PowerPoint?

Will a PowerPoint help your presentation or just get in the way? If something goes wrong with the equipment, can you present without it?

  1. What’s the microphone situation?

Will you be stationary at a podium or be walking around the stage with a hand-held or clip on microphone? Knowing this ahead of time will determine what notes you decide to prepare.

  1. Who is the AV contact?

You’ll want their name, cell phone number and any other contact information. We recommend getting there early and running through all the technical components.

  1. What can’t I forget?

Always remember to bring business cards, chargers, cords, and converters for technology and extra copies of everything (notes, speech, handouts, etc.).


Big picture

  1. How will I create hype for my presentation?

Don’t limit yourself just to the presentation. Get active on social media before the conference to highlight your brand and advertise your presentation. After, follow up with attendees or other presenters to continue a dialogue and get the most out of the conference.

  1. Why did I agree to this in the first place?

Don’t think you’re presenting at this conference for just your audience’s sake. Every presentation is an opportunity to highlight and promote your personal brand, your company, and your research. Keep that in mind when planning your presentation and interacting with attendees.


Bonus: And as always – turn off your phone!