Conference Talk Outline

The template I use for my talks

This is the outline I use when putting together any talk, be it for conferences, meetups, or to organize my thoughts for work presentations.

This started with a printout from Bold Echo, a company specializing in training public speakers. It’s been adapted over the years for the way that I use it and I’m sharing it in case it might be helpful to you.

Speaking Goal

After my presentation is over, I want my audience to… [Be grand yet specific, general talks are boring. This is the core reason for your talk.] …so that… [Every talk should lead to action or inspiration, touch on that here.]


Grab attention

[Bring them in with something relevant, topical, or humorous. This is your hook and keeps people from leaving your talk. You start gaining trust or losing it here. Practice this out loud a lot!]

Gather interest

[What’s in it for your audience? What’s the agenda, what is your audience in store for? Respect your audience’s time and let them know if this talk is going to touch on what they want to hear.]

Establish Credibility

[Why should your audience pay attention to you? People might not know who you are and, even if they do, they might not know why you are relevant to the topic you are speaking about.]

Provide clarity

[Focus the points in the introduction and lead into the transition.]

Transition to body

[1 sentence transition]

Key Point 1

[Succinct description of your first key point.]

(( Unhandled block ))

(( Unhandled block ))

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[1 sentence transition]

Key Point 2

[Succinct description of your second key point.]

(( Unhandled block ))

(( Unhandled block ))

(( Unhandled block ))


[1 sentence transition]

Key Point 3

[Succinct description of your third key point.]

(( Unhandled block ))

(( Unhandled block ))

(( Unhandled block ))


Signal the end

[Review key points.]

Reiterate central message

[Reinforce the message that you want everyone to take away from your talk.]

Provide a call to action

[What should your audience do next? Now that you’ve enlightened them, what is the next step? BE SPECIFIC!]

Provide a clincher

[Make a huge impact. This is the moment people walk away from and the emotion here is what people will walk away with.]

Hope this is useful to you! Before you submit proposals, you should go through and fill out at least the goal and the key points to ensure your mind is thinking about the flow of a talk first. Titles and abstracts are fine, but most reviewers have gotten to the point of understanding that a good abstract is nearly completely unrelated to whether or not the talk itself will be good. The best talks are the ones that are practiced and prepared, and an outline is the first step in preparing.

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Jarrod Overson Written by:

Jarrod is a Director at Shape Security, speaker, O'Reilly author.