A Simple Guide: Getting Your Speaking Submissions Accepted
Why submit to speak at a conference?
This is a question we get from our clients a lot – is it really worth the time to complete speaking submissions and hope that we get accepted to at least one of them? Keep reading to decide for yourself…
In 2017, I was tasked with setting up a call between one of my clients and a conference they were interested in speaking at. After a lot of back and forth over email, I had convinced the conference of my client’s expertise in the industry and we were able to set up a call. That call – and the session my client spoke at – ultimately lead to more than $1 million in new business and a substantial spike in leads.
Not every event is this successful, of course, but all it takes is finding the right event, with the right audience, and submitting the best topic to give yourself the most favorable outcome.
In my nearly 10 years of PR experience, I’ve submitted hundreds – if not thousands – of speaking abstracts for clients. Below are some takeaways I’ve learned for increasing the odds of landing a speaking slot.
1. Make sure it’s a topic you can speak on for 30 minutes to an hour.
If you aren’t confident you have enough material, consider submitting to be a part of a panel or put together a panel yourself.
2. If you work for an agency or are a vendor, consider asking a client to speak with you.
More often than not, conferences require vendors to be sponsors if they want to speak – which also known as pay-to-play. Most conferences won’t require vendors to pay if they have a client to speak with. Ideally, speaking opportunities should be free publicity (minus hotel/travel expenses).
If you still want to speak at a conference but aren’t sure if the investment of sponsoring is worth it, consider attending the conference first to get a better idea who attends and the potential ROI.
3. Follow the guidelines set out by the conference.
If the guidelines state, “7-word title” and “200 words or less abstract” – do it! No need to risk your submission being overlooked simply because you couldn’t follow the rules.
4. Confirm your availability, before submitting.
Nothing puts you on a conference organizer’s blocked list quicker than submitting a speaking abstract, being accepted, then cancelling because the event doesn’t work with your schedule.
It’s also important to understand how much effort and time goes into being a public speaker. Leading up to the conference you will need to – submit an outline – create a presentation – revise that presentation – have planning calls with the conference manager – practice! practice! practice! – and travel to the conference. These things add up and if you aren’t committed, don’t waste everyone else’s time.
5. Reusing material is OK!
If you gave an awesome talk at another industry event, leverage it for other events. No need to reinvent the wheel. Take time to tweak it enough so it’s new and relevant to the event, but it is hard enough trying to come up with topics, no need to make it more difficult.
6. Leverage materials you already have.
Has your marketing team written a white paper lately? How about a bylined article? If you’re stuck on coming up with a new topic, go through other material that has already been created and re-work it.
7. Do not do a sales pitch.
Imagine paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to attend an event, only to end up listening to speakers who are trying to hawk their product. That sounds miserable and like a waste of time. People attend conferences so they can learn and to network. Give a presentation that gets the audience thinking in new ways and grow your brand and value as a thought leader. Being seen as an expert will create trust and as well as other monetary opportunities.
8. Skip the Jargon.
This should be a rule for everything but try and gauge who your audience will be and tailor the language so it is understandable to people with wide-ranging backgrounds and background knowledge.
Related Post: 13 Fintech Conferences and Speaker Deadlines
9. Identify 3-5 concrete takeaways or learning points.
As stated above, people attend conferences to learn and network. Make sure it’s clear in your abstract exactly what your audience will take away from if they attend your session. The more relevant to the conference, the better.
10. Have real-world examples.
Speculation and conjecture only go so far. Provide case studies and concrete success stories to SHOW your expertise and to prove you’re the real deal.
If this feels overwhelming to you, and you’re still not sure where to start, we’re here to help! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help build your brand through public speaking.