Well, I survived my first time speaking at a a conference and thought I would share some of the things that I learned.
Know your material
I know it sounds obvious, but make sure you know your material backwards and forwards because anything you can forget you will. The added stress of having a group of people staring at you means that it is hard to recall anything that is not automatic. While I knew most of my material very well, there was still a bit that I changed last minute and of course when the pressure was on I struggled to remember everything that I was planning on saying.
Have a paper copy of what to check before you start
I had an a list of things to check before my talk, but it was on my phone. The speaker before me took a long time breaking down his setup, so I felt like I was in a hurry to get everything setup and in the hustle and bustle I forgot to pull up my list and I forgot to prep some things that threw me for a loop during the presentation.
Engage with your audience prior to starting the presentation
This is one area where I felt I did decent, but could improve. I talked with individuals as they came in and talked with the group and tried to get them comfortable with interacting, but you should never underestimate the awkwardness of a room full of introverts. This is something that I have noticed that all of the speakers that I look up to seem to do well with.
Relax and enjoy the experience
I know this is easier said than done, but take a moment just prior to your session and appreciate where you are and how fortunate you to be able to do this.