Testing Public Speakers: How do you balance preparation & spontaneity?

Hi All,

Today @bethtesterleeds and me bring a topic via this racket about conference preparation.
would love to hear your thoughts and how you get our from scripted talk to spontanious one ?

Looking forward to your tips !

1 Like

There has to be many styles for this, based on the familiarity of topic and speaker experience. :slight_smile:

I have been successful in reading the slides, so that I know the slide deck and know how to move from one slide to the other. And so that I can control it timing wise, which I’m still learning ;).
That gives me the frame to respond to the audience etc. and move faster or slower.


I generally do 3 or 4 run throughs of any talk to gain a sense of timing of slides and make sure it fits the time slot. This sounds like being very prepared but no two talks are exactly the same and an audiences enthusiasm encourages spontaneity.
Plus you can plan a bit of spontaneity by reading poems or signing songs, e.g Essentials Brighton 2019, sorry Richard :blush:
Of course you never really know what questions are going to be asked afterwards so that always feels spontaneous.

1 Like

That’s great 3 or 4 times ! :smiley: Good job @adystokes :slight_smile:
True @jesper you can make some reference to each slide and what the story behind that only you know because you already make a strong connection with the deck while preparing it.

Sometimes, I feel a bit worried if I forgot something in the talk I will do for the first time so I try to prepare notes and script it all.

Usually, from the second time with the same talk I start feeling more indepent from the notes.

1 Like

At my last job we had a training for public speaking, the lady who was teaching us told us to try rehearsing the presentation in front of the mirror and also to record a video of ourselves and to watch it in order to get a feeling of what can be improved.


a funny thing about previous talks, I feel so strange hearing myself (after it’s published) :slight_smile: usually I don’t get the courage to listen to my previous conference talks.

I started listening to some of them recently but it’s always hard to get that complete courage for me.

I feel like it’s already delivered what if I don’t like it I’ll stay forever shameful if something wasn’t well structured or or …


As being said here, recording yourself and watching afterwards is a great practice finding what to improve in your speech (this is an extended practice for singers too).

Apart from that, we usually add real examples, personal touches or things we experienced previously to our talks. Something that worked for me is not preparing these, so you end up mixing a prepared speech - the script you follow in your talk, following the slides etc - and some improvisation that comes from these examples from our experience. I think it makes the speech sound more natural.


Thanks Alejandro ! I like the idea :slight_smile:

1 Like