The Etiquette of a Professional Speaker

Stepping onto the stage as a professional speaker can increase your visibility and propel your brand. These steps will help you optimize your visibility in the most professional and profound way. 

The stage or background

For speaking in person, it is good to arrive early to the event to get a tour backstage. Learn where you enter and exit from, who gives you the microphone, what time they expect you ready, and where the waiting room is located. These logistics can hold up an event if they go array, so becoming familiar before prevents little mistakes from happening.  

For remote speaking, your home becomes the presenting stage. You don’t have to hire a professional decorator or clean the entire house to look professional. Simply set up your screen and see what part of the room is inframe. Whatever the audience can see should be clean and distraction-free. Prepare ahead of time by becoming familiar with the technology used to present to prevent connection problems or disruptions during your presentation


Steve Jobs’ turtleneck is an iconic outfit that everyone recognizes. While you don’t have to choose an article of clothing to go viral, what you wear should convey your personal brand. Try vibrant colors or fabrics that speak to your personality or culture. Where you speak should also be considered for your outfit. Showing up in a suit to a cafe book launch might not tell your audience you’re an approachable, down-to-earth person. Black dresses can also look smart and chic, but if the background is black, your audience will have a hard time seeing you. 

Slides or Visuals

Anytime you pitch a project or report at work, you make slides and speaking is no different. Think of all the amazing TED talks that use slides effectively. Are you using visuals to capture your audience or graphs to provide evidence for your claim? Every slide has a purpose that pushes the talk forward and convinces your audience to buy into your brand, product, or business. 

Audience engagement 

Remember all those boring professors with monotone voices drowning on and on? They lacked audience engagement, and nothing kills pitching yourself like disinterest. Show your passion and excitement on stage, and your audience will be there with you. The more they become emotionally invested in you, the more they feel inspired to buy. 

Contact information

You could be the best speaker in the room, with the audience leaping out of their seats to applaud you. But if you leave them with no way of contacting you, you’ll see no increase in sales or visibility. The most important part of speaking is getting your brand, expertise, product, business, etc., in front of a larger audience for longer than a thirty-second scroll past your post on social media. You want to leave them with as many ways to connect as possible, some ways include your website, email, social handles, or phone number. An added bonus is if you generate a lead magnet that gives the audience “discounted” access to your products and allows you to save their email address.

Thank the host

Speakers invited to talk at an event by a larger organization should thank them for this opportunity and the people/business who owns the event space. They will be sure to remember your gratitude and think of you the next time they need a speaker. 

Looking for speaking opportunities? The International Association of Women hosts weekly virtual speaking events for our global community of professional women. Our members get more than speaking opportunities. Enjoy unlimited networking opportunities, webinars, workshops, a LinkedIn Learning pass, press releases, marketing materials, and more.

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