Conference Speaking Opportunities can be an incredibly powerful communications vehicle for building executive visibility. But how do you go about securing the righ speaking slots for your exec?
The first step on the road to successful free speaking is to identify your brief.
- which audiences you want to reach – vertical? horizontal? what geography?
- who in your team can speak and are they trained?
- what issues and customers can you talk about?
- do you have the resources to write presentations?
- can this fit into your PR and marketing mix?
Once you have your brief and objectives in place, decide what performance indicators you want to measure. Will you target a specific number of events, number of delegates reached, speaker evaluation, or a mixture of these?
Now it’s time to start researching the conference market.
You will no doubt have relationships with some conference companies, but are you just speaking to the sales manager? If you want to speak without paying, you’ll need to ensure you’re speaking to the right person, i.e. the conference producer who puts the agenda together.
Look for events that match your brief. Think about the audience they are targeting, the overall focus of the event and the history – how successful it was last time and what the conference company’s pedigree is.
When it comes to pitching your speaker and topic, every event will have a different requirement. You will always need a biography of your speaker, to spell out why he/she will add value to the conference, and some form of topic proposal. This might be a short synopsis, a title with bullet points or even a white paper.
The submission process will also vary. It may be a closed call for papers, you may deal directly with the conference producer, or you might be selected anonymously by an international panel of subject experts.
Depending on which of these you are facing, you may not be in a position to be selective about session time. Obviously you want to try to avoid sessions at the end of the day or just after lunch – the so called grave yard slots.
Lastly, it’s important to approach the conference company at the right time. Some complete their event agendas up to nine months before the event, though four is more common. If you see an agenda with speakers up on the website, you have probably missed the boat (for this year at least).