Of all the feedback that I hear about speakers, the most critical emerges from the conference circuit. There are, of course, some brilliant conference speakers (including you), but there is also a huge army of ne'er-do-wells who trudge from platform to platform, curing any semblance of insomnia in all but a few of their audience members.
It shouldn't be like this. You would never bore an audience, so why should you have to listen to terminally dull speeches? I believe that often it is down to speaker and topic selection. It's tough for a speaker to connect with an audience that does not care about their topic. However, the responsibility lies not just with the conference organiser. If you are asked to speak on a topic which is not part of your core expertise, you should politely decline and recommend someone else. That's what professionals do.
It's tough to turn down a gig, particularly a well-paid one. But it will benefit you in the long run. People want to book speakers with specialist expertise. Generalists, (or worse, people with little knowledge) will receive fewer enquiries, and fewer bookings.
Here are a few tips about conference speaking that will make it likely you are asked back:
- Work with the organiser to deliver what they need
- Research the audience to find out their interests
- Keep the number of slides low, and favour images, not text
- Be entertaining as well as informative
- Listen to the earlier speakers, and back-refer
- Stay around for a few hours after your speech to chat to delegates
- Leave something behind - a fact sheet or the slides of your talk
- Ask for feedback (and take note)