Speaking Opportunities Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Klaxon

The Benefits of Public Speaking

A week or so ago I was interviewed by fellow marketer Jon Buscall for his Online Marketing & Communications podcast. Jon was interested to hear about my experiences with public speaking; both from the point of view of how speaking at events has benefitted our business, but also how our managed speaking opportunity programs work for clients.

You can listen to the full interview online here, or connect to Jon’s podcast in iTunes or Stitcher too.

Thanks again to Jon for having me on the show. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the full Jontus Media team – listen to the interview to hear Jon’s Basset hound Aggie (sic) joining in.

Why Speaking Opportunities?

One of the key skills we have as an agency is helping brands to find opportunities for their senior execs to speak at conferences in the UK and globally. We’ve worked with some of the world’s largest brands in this area, along with many smaller firms and even consultants.

We’ve been preparing an introductory presentation on the value of speaking opportunities for a new client and I wanted to share the slide on ‘Why?’.

In our opinion speaking opportunities:

  • Provide access to highly targeted audiences: both vertical sector and horizontal line of business
  • Enable you to reach interested and captive audiences
  • Create platforms for executive visibility
  • Allow you to demonstrate technical leadership
  • Help to raise brand awareness, manage reputation and drive opinions
  • Provide an easily measured vehicle: audience numbers, speaker feedback, organiser feedback
  • Reach international and domestic audiences
  • Drive delegates to your exhibition stand

So there you have it. Think seriously about building speaking opportunities into your communications mix.

Photo provided by Xtrashot.

How to Write a Good Synopsis & Attract an Audience

Conference AudienceIt can be an intimidating task to summarise your presentation into that short concise yet compelling paragraph needed for a conference programme. Follow our top tips on how to create a digestible and easy-to-read synopsis that will attract an audience.

First and foremost, make sure it reflects exactly what you want to say. Keep in mind that the conference delegates – to whom you will actually deliver your presentation – are your primary audience!

A conference session synopsis consists of a short, snappy powerful title that succinctly describes your session. Followed by further detail about your talk, to enable potential attendees to evaluate the content of your session. Remember the title and content of the synopsis must match up!

A conference session synopsis can be either a narrative (usually between 40/60 words) or bullet points (writing your main points in bullet form will help you limit what you are saying).

So how do you write a synopsis that is clear, concise and interesting enough to entice people to come to your presentation?

If available take a look at the draft conference programme by obtaining it from the conference organisers. Take note of any key speakers, underlying theme(s) of the conference, and other additional features that may be relevant or perhaps potentially overlap with your session.

When conceiving your presentation, use the following checklist:

  • Am I saying anything new?
  • Is there a challenging and provocative question my work brings up?

There are a few guidelines that you should observe too, such as:

  • Be objective – if you sound like a walking advert for a supplier organisation, delegates will not turn up to hear you and you will create a bad impression.
  • Use examples or case studies (or both) if possible. Delegates like to picture how your advice might apply to them.
  • Use the right language – are there any buzzwords and jargon relevant to the conference topic you can include?
  • Draw on any key points of research, particularly if significance to the intended field
  • If appropriate, provide potential delegates with legal cases

Finally, I know it sounds obvious, but read through the synopsis again before the day of the event and ensure that this is actually what you talk about – it should not only attract people to hear what you have to say in the first place but keep them listening once they are there!

If you have any top tips for how you have created the perfect synopsis, please share them in the comments below.

What to Include in a Biography

If you are keen on speaking at conferences, it is inevitable that at some point, someone from the conference organising company will ask for your biography. After all, the company needs to be able to see your role at your present company at a glance, as well as view your background, to make sure you are a suitable speaker and a saleable asset for the conference.

It can be an intimidating task to summarise your career in a short concise paragraph, so follow our top tips on creating a digestible and easy-to-read personal synopsis.

Know the difference

It may sound obvious, but as a time-served conference producer who has been sent a lot of CVs, I thought it was best to point this out. A biography is not the same as a CV, which lists your achievements in past jobs for a potential employer. A biography is a short summary of the ‘high points’ of your career in a digestible paragraph (or three), and acts as an introduction to who you are.

Keep it short

In terms of length, here’s the simple rule; if it is too long, people won’t read it. Remember that this is not just about attracting the eye of the conference producer, this information will feature on the event website and possibly be in the conference brochure mailed out to thousands of individuals. It’s the tool that the conference chair will use to introduce you on the day. Give everyone a break and make the thing easy on the eye, no matter how many companies you’ve shone at.

The general rule of thumb is to talk about your current role at your employer, your previous roles there, then summarise the rest of your employment in a sentence. For example: prior to joining x, x had senior marketing roles at x, x and x.

Make it clear

To start your biography, it is a good idea to state exactly what your job role is, and what that entails (e.g xxx is Vice President of xxx, looking after…).

If you want to be really clever, it’s worth then tailoring your next information to the conference and what you’re going to be talking about. For example, if you are an HR executive talking about the importance of developing a learning culture within your organisation, why not state it? E.g: Starting in 2006, Richard Thomas has worked hard to forge a real culture of learning within the organisation and leads on a range of key activities centred around elearning, coaching, knowledge sharing and employee engagement.

Make it readable

Break it up into 2 or 3 short paragraphs. People are much more likely to read it looking like that than a block of text.

Add a photograph

9 times out of 10 you will be asked for your profile photograph to go on the event website, or a print brochure, or some other promotional material. Make it easy on yourself and the conference producer and add this to your biography.

Interesting extras

Spoken at anything else? Been nominated for an award? Been featured in a recent business supplement? Any other interesting info that might attract a conference producer?

A client I was recently looking to place had appeared as a resident expert on a well-known (if rather low-brow) TV programme and was somewhat reticent to mention it. However, if it is something that whets the appetite of the organiser and your potential audience, it’s worth putting down.

Due diligence

Depending on what company you work for, you may want to run your biography past the powers that be. They may want to add in a short, standardised soundbite about the organisation and will need to check that what you’ve written reflects the message that the company wants to put out there.

Keep up online

Lastly, don’t forget that these days, everyone looks at Linkedin as a first port of call when looking to see who you are. Once you’ve built your biographical masterpiece, get it straight online to make sure it reflects exactly what you want to say.

If you have any top tips for how you have created the perfect biography, please share them in the comments below.

5 Top Tips for Optimising Conference Speaking Opportunities

Speaking Opportunities

So you’ve secured yourself a conference speaking opportunity. Well done. But how can you ensure that you make the most of your participation?

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Securing Speaking Opportunities

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.

Think about:

  • 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).

The Speaking Opportunities Lowdown

As a communications professional you’ve no doubt looked at using events and conferences as part of your marketing mix. How else can you hope to meet up with such a large number of prospects and customers in one day?

The vast majority of technology vendors pay for sponsorship and exhibition programmes, but there is another way – conference speaking opportunities.

So what are speaking opportunities and how can you make the most of them?

A speaking opportunity is basically the chance for one of your executives to stand up and discuss your company’s experience on a topic related to the main conference theme. It’s also of course an opportunity to talk about your company, its business, its customers and to develop your position in the marketplace without paying.

So what are the main benefits of going down this road? There are many advantages to securing free speaking opportunities, not least:

  • they are highly targeted
  • audiences are interested as very often they’ve paid to attend
  • participation is easily measured – audience numbers, speaker feedback etc.
  • they are good for raising awareness, managing your reputation and driving opinions
  • they reach international and domestic audiences
  • they drive delegates to your exhibition stand

Sound good?

Well speaking opportunities certainly can be, but you need the right approach to make it happen.

Public Speaking

For many of us, public speaking can be a daunting prospect. This is mainly because we don’t really have to speak to an audience that often, perhaps the occasional wedding, dinner party or company function.

However, speaking at business events can be a fantastic way of marketing your services. You only have to attend a couple of networking events to see that those who are most confident in speaking and presenting their ideas grab the lions share of attention. And those that take the step up to presenting in front of an audience, are frequently those tied up with questions from prospects and partners during conference lunch breaks.

There are lots of reasons why you should consider public speaking for your marketing programmes. Here’s a few to get you started:

1. to develop your profile as an expert,
2. to increase your sales and partner network,
3. to gain FREE publicity in industry press and journals,
4. to reach targeted audiences,
5. to raise awareness of your company and its products / services.

And many more.

But you need to be clear about what you want to achieve before you get started. As with any marketing & PR programme, careful planning at the outset can increase the impact of your campaign. For example, do you want to reach companies that might be potential customers, or would you like to influence the investment community to help raise finance? Both can be achieved with careful planning, good research and a proactive approach to finding opportunities to speak.

Once you’ve started to secure speaking opportunities, you need to ensure you can deliver an effective presentation. For this, there’s no substitute for training and practice and more you do it the better you’ll get. Don’t be put off by nerves the first few times, this really will improve with time. There are lots of resources for speaking tips, just search on Google or visit your local book shop and you’ll find numerous.

If you want help identifying speaking opportunities, then you can engage a speakers bureau to do some of this work for you – although these mainly support celebrities or well known business gurus. If you want help for your business, then either contact me or your PR agency who may be able to help.?