- Start small.
I started with brown bags at my company, then moved to our quarterly company meetings, then user groups (I spoke in multiple user groups any chance I got), then a local conference, and finally with the big ones.
- Topic choice
Always speak about something you know well. Audiences will often throw a curve ball at you and you should be able to step away from the main script, answer a question and then arch the conversation back to the main talking point.
A good starting point, once you have a topic in mind, is to read a book on the subject (or at least glance at the table of contents) or watch someone else's video on the subject. This usually gives you a (good) starting point to frame your agenda.
- Practice practice practice!
Even after doing this for many years, I incessantly practice my talks. Do it out loud and it will help highlight rough edges when segueing from one section to another, or even gaps in your own understanding.
As other commentators have said, it also improves timing. I now have a gut feeling on how much material fits in a 60 or 90 minute talk, or even a half/full day workshop. It will come.
Finally, get your significant other/kids/friends/colleagues to watch you give a talk and provide honest feedback. Body language, tone, inflection all matter.
- Slides are good, but not important
In other words, slides are props, you are the main act. I have never appreciate it when conferences ask you to email a PDF of your slides, because invariably my slides contain at most a word or two. They do not and cannot stand by themselves.
- Again, start small, get a feel for it, then read a book or two. One I highly recommend is Presentation Patterns - https://www.amazon.com/Presentation-Patterns-Techniques-Craf... [Disclaimer - All 3 authors are friends of mine]
Speaking is like running. Till you don't do it, reading a book on it seems to add little value. Once you have a little bit of experience sections of these books will pop out at you, revealing places where you can improve
At the time of giving the talk, just remember,
- It's OK to be nervous. If you are not nervous then something is wrong. I still get butterflies in my stomach every single time
- The audience WANTS you to succeed. They are going to spend the next 60/90 minutes of their lives watching you speak, and they want it to be a productive time.
Get dozens of book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.