Speaker Resources

This page was based on the DjangoCon US Speaker Resource page and this excellent article.

Writing a great proposal

  • Make sure the title of your proposal is attention grabbing. Conferences typically need to review a lot of talk proposals, so you want to make sure yours looks interesting.
  • Try reading your proposal aloud - it should sound like normal human speech. If it leaves you breathless then you probably need some punctuation.
  • Your proposal should not look like a wall of text.
  • Make use of the “notes” section of the talk submission form. You can use this to leave messages for the talk reviewers. Eg: you might want to say something like: “I have submitted a few proposals, but this is the one I am most interested in talking about”, “I’m not sure about the title, here are some alternative titles that might work.” or “Please connect me with a speaker mentor”.
  • If you have multiple ideas then feel free to make multiple proposals. You can let the conference organizers pick which one seems most appropriate.
  • Don’t try to be extra fancy and add in big words that are unnecessary. The point of an abstract is to communicate an idea, so you should focus on clear communication. Take a look at this.

Making an awesome presentation

  • Minimal slides are best — avoid walls of text and long lists of bullets.
  • Light background with dark text is easiest to read; be mindful that the projection screen is white. Choose fonts with adequate spacing between letters, and avoid thin or cursive fonts.
  • If your talk requires live coding or using the terminal, make sure your editor or terminal settings are legible. Dark text on a light background (high contrast) with a large font is best.
  • Images, memes, and GIFs should be appropriate for a professional audience.
  • Avoid or limit flashing videos or animated GIFs, as these may have negative effects for people with seizure disorders, migraines, or ADD/ADHD.

At the conference

  • Please be in your presentation room at least 15 minutes before your talk in order to set up and meet your session chair
  • Remember to bring your laptop and charger, and any display adapters you might need
  • Bring your presentation on a usb stick just in case something goes horribly wrong
  • There will be a Quiet Room available on conference days
  • We may ask you to draft your slides as much as 3 weeks ahead of the conference. We won’t share the slides with anyone outside of the conference organizing team.

Public speaking

A lot of people find public speaking very stressful! Here are a few things that might help:

  • Our community is warm and welcoming, the fact that you are putting effort into contributing is something everyone will appreciate.
  • It is normal to stumble from time to time, if you trip over your words then be willing to laugh at yourself and the audience will like you more. Or if you can’t laugh at yourself, just pause for a moment, take a breath or a sip of water and keep going. The audience can wait for a few seconds while you gather your thoughts, it’s ok.
  • If you are prone to anxiety then make a point of practicing your talk in front of an audience ahead of time - your friends, family and colleagues can be very useful here.

Practicing your talk

Some people write out a script and then memorize that. Some people are expert freestylers. Both approaches work well, but both need serious preparation.

If you write and memorize your script:

  • Realize that memorizing a 30 minute talk is going to take a lot of time
  • If you need cue cards or speaker notes then keep them brief - if you just stare down at your notes that would be bad. Practice looking up and away from your notes.

If you are a freestyler:

  • Practice talking through your slides over and over until you don’t stumble.
  • This method might sound easier, but you probably need to know about 30% more about your topic if you want to freestyle effectively.


  • Make sure you use a timer while practicing.

Audience Questions

For a lot of people, this can be the scariest part!

  • If someone asks you a question then feel free to take a moment to think before answering.
  • If you aren’t sure what the question means then you can ask for clarity or try to paraphrase the question.
  • Once you have attempted to answer the question you can ask “Does that answer your question?”
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question then be willing to say “I don’t know”. It’s really ok to not have perfect knowledge. Don’t pretend to know things you don’t and don’t try to distract people from the main question, just be honest about what you know.