A Day in the Life of a Speaker and TrainerJan 24, 2023
Speaking to live audiences is easily one of the best parts of my job. There’s nothing like the rewarding feeling of seeing how new knowledge can create confidence and excitement for people right before my eyes. Whether I’m providing a custom training session for top performers or a keynote address at a conference, I love equipping audiences to connect with purpose.
Before speaking was a significant part of my business, I remember seeking out all the information and experience I could to see if professional speaking was something I wanted to pursue. Now, years later, I love sharing what I’ve learned with aspiring speakers. That’s why I’m pulling back the curtain on my speaking engagement routine. Who doesn’t love a good behind-the-scenes? Here’s what I do to bring my A-game to my speaking engagements.
Two to Three Business Days Before the Event
- Send Personalized LinkedIn Invitations: Before any speaking or training event, I request a final attendee list from the event organizer. Then, no more than a few days before the event, I’ll find each person on LinkedIn and introduce myself via a personalized connection request. The benefit of this routine is two-fold. First, I get a clearer sense of who will be in the room on the day of the event, which can help me tailor my content to my audience. Second, I’ll be less of a stranger to the people attending the event. I find this makes the speaking experience a little more comfortable for everyone.
- Review Travel Documents: Before I head out, my Administrative Coordinator Cathy always prepares a travel document for me. A few days before my flight, I’ll print out and review the one page of all my travel details, including the physical address of the hotel, address of the event, timing, flight details, etc. so I don’t have to dig through my email to find the information I need.
The Day Before the Event
- Travel: Most of my in-person speaking engagements require travel. Since I typically speak in the morning, my event prep begins the afternoon before with a flight to my destination. From the moment I jump in my car and head toward the airport, the only thing I’m thinking about is my event—no other work until after I speak! This is my last chance to tweak what I’ve prepared and get in the zone.
- Hydration: Proper hydration is so important for speaking! The last thing I want is to feel parched in the middle of my training or talk. I’ve learned that you can’t cram hydration the day of, so I try to start drinking extra water about 48 hours before I speak. On my pre-event travel days, I also avoid alcohol. I might make a rare exception to this rule in the case of a speakers’ dinner the night before an event, but even then, I’ll typically stick to soda water and lime.
- Check-In: When I arrive at my hotel, I make a point to ask the front desk if the hotel offers courtesy bottled water. I’ve found that most do. Again, hydration is key, and it’s always nice to have more water than I need in my room. If the event happens to be in the same hotel where I’m staying, I’ll also ask if I can see the room where I’m speaking. It’s always helpful for me to have a visual of the space ahead of time if possible because different rooms require different types of energy.
- Get Settled: After I get to my room, the first thing I do is check the bed. I once made the mistake of getting all settled in only to discover when I had returned from dinner that the sheets were dirty. At that point, I was already tired and ready to go to bed, so switching rooms was a real hassle. Now, as soon as I arrive, I drop my bags and make sure everything is clean so nothing about my space stands in the way of me and a great night’s sleep.
- Curfew: I’ll usually venture out of the room in the evening to find a nutritious and substantial dinner. If there’s a social event for speakers or attendees, I’ll definitely make an appearance and use the opportunity to get to know people. When I do have something social the night before an event, I always set a curfew for myself and kindly communicate that to others so that I can get back to my room with plenty of time to sleep. Most people are very understanding and respectful of my desire to do well and have no problem if I decide to slip out a little early.
- Presentation Preparation: When I arrive back at my room, I’ll usually pull up my slides or speaker notes for one more quick glance through my material. Depending on my event, I might even run through the presentation and practice a few final times. I also like to make the morning go a little smoother by laying out my clothes and jewelry before I head to bed.
- Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep can be elusive sometimes, especially with pre-event jitters. I always bring my own ibuprofen and Benadryl from home just in case I find myself staring at the ceiling late at night or lying awake with a pounding headache. I’ve rarely needed either, but it’s nice to know they’re there for desperate times.
Hotel rooms tend to be very dry, which can affect your speaking voice. I once heard another speaker say he solved this problem by placing a full glass of water on his nightstand while he slept. The idea is that the cup will add at least a little moisture into the air. Does it make a huge difference? Probably not, but it’s become part of my pre-speaking ritual anyway!
The Day of the Event
The exact times of my day-of-event routine vary depending on when and where I’m speaking. Usually, however, I try to request an early morning speaking time when I’m at my best and my audience is feeling fresh and ready for the day. Here’s what a typical speaking morning can look like for me.
- 5:15 a.m. - Workout: I start off every speaking event day with a trip to the gym. Nothing calms the speaking day nerves better than a good sweat. Plus, after a workout, I feel more energized and prepared to start the day.
- 6:00 a.m. - Get Ready: Once I’ve hit the gym, I’ll come back to my room to shower and get ready for the day. Luckily, this part is pretty easy as I’ve already selected my outfit and laid it out in advance. I’ll also grab a quick breakfast in my room—almost always a protein bar I brought with me. I don’t like to leave anything to chance on my speaking days. Bringing a bar I like ensures I have predictable fuel for the day and don’t wind up feeling draggy or nauseous from something I ate at the hotel buffet. I also like to use one of those extra water bottles I picked up to mix with Emergen-C for a morning boost of vitamin C.
- 6:45 a.m. - Arrive at the Venue: In my experience, most clients want me to arrive at the event location 30 minutes prior to my session. I try to show up about 45 minutes early just to have a little extra buffer. I’ll use this time before I speak to meet or catch up with my hosts, do a quick tech check, have a sip of coffee, and make sure I have my water and presentation all ready to go. Depending on the event, I might also have a chance before my talk to meet some of the attendees.
- 7:30 a.m. - Speak: Time for my favorite part of the day! Depending on the size of the session, I like to start my talk by asking everyone to stand up and stretch for a moment. This helps to make sure everyone is feeling awake and ready to learn. I try to make my speaking engagements as interactive as possible, and I frequently get feedback that affirms my ability to keep my audience engaged.
P.S. - Looking for a speaker for your next keynote or training session? Let me know.
- 8:30 a.m. - Answer Questions & Network: Depending on the schedule for the rest of the day, I like to stick around after my talk to meet attendees and answer any questions. The serendipitous conversations and energy I feel when light bulbs go off for people are some of the many reasons I love speaking in person. While I enjoy and am skilled at virtual speaking too, there’s just no replacement for face-to-face interaction.
- Afternoon - Travel: I don’t want to feel too rushed leaving a speaking event. You never know what could come up, so it’s important for me to leave plenty of time to get to the airport and catch my flight back home. On the plane, I like to reflect a bit on the event, catch up on updates from my team, and soak in the satisfaction of another great speaking day.
If you’re just getting started in the speaking world, my advice is to jump in and start doing it. No one will ask you to speak if they don’t know it’s something you want to do, so don’t be afraid to tell your network. One of the best ways to build experience is by speaking for free locally. Many organizations need speakers but don’t have the budget to hire anyone, so raise your hand and let them know you’re willing to volunteer your time. If you love it, stick with it. While it might be slow at first, over time, you’ll begin to build a reputation and market for your speaking services.