Conferences and large speaking opportunities are the holy grail for many leaders, experts, coaches, entrepreneurs, and authors. They are opportunities to gain greater prestige and recognition, more clients, and potentially more revenue.
However, many conferences require you to submit via a “call-for-speakers” form. Rather than the meeting planner, event host or coordinator, or venue manager being bombarded by supplicants seeking a spot on their stages, organizers use the intake form to screen and narrow the field before initiating a first-person meeting. And many simply select their speakers from the application forms.
Therefore, it behooves you to know how to create your edge on your “call-for-speakers” form. You have to knock their socks off constrained within a couple of prescribed pages of pre-established questions!
And that’s what this is designed to do—elevate your game when it calls for “calls-for-speakers” submissions.
So let’s look at this divided into specific sections:
Don’t just give you your name, title, organization or business name, website, email, and phone. If possible, provide your calendar link to ensure that if and when they want to have a meeting, you will be available. There may not be a space for this, but offer it if you can.
Social Media Profile Information
Give them full links, not hashtags or @ symbols. Ensure that when they follow the link, it is a true showcase for you. You can also add a short video in the header (a recent feature) so they can get a quick sense of you. Make sure your header art is graphically appealing and sells you impactfully.
For conferences, LinkedIn is the most critical to include. If you aren’t confident that you have a compelling LinkedIn page, hire an expert who can uplevel it.
Only provide your Facebook profile if it includes some kind of business interaction, not if it’s all family and food. The same goes with Instagram. You may offer Facebook business pages or Instagram business-focused accounts in lieu of personal profile pages.
Speaker Biography and References/Testimonials
Make your biography sing! Never start with an account of your life story. Instead, start by telling what problem you solve in the world, what makes you unique, and who you serve. Back that up with your credentials—your expertise, books, results, and your proof of authority. Speak about how you’ve transformed lives. If appropriate, you might want to briefly tell your story, your hero’s journey, and how you came to this place.
Pay attention to the word count. The best way to prepare is to have three different bios—50, 100, or up to 300 words. You can pare them specifically from there if you need to shave them to meet a specific number.
If they offer an opportunity to provide references or testimonials, don’t get caught flat-footed. Have testimonial quotes available or a select number of people to whom you can direct them.
On occasion, they may ask you for more personal information to get a sense of who you are. Take that opportunity to let them get to know you better and why you might be a compelling addition to their stage.
Clearly, you can speak to your body of knowledge but also explore what impressive numbers you might throw at them. For example, when I speak on podcast pitching, I mention that we pitch 9,000 podcasts and radio shows for each radio/podcast tour, that we have served nearly 400 leaders and authors, that we have 80 raving testimonials on our website, and that over the years, I’ve booked 10,000 shows for our clients. Those numbers alone open many doors when I am booking myself on this subject matter. Look for the numbers that tell your success story!
Bring your expertise to life! Show what it’s done for you and the people you have served. Speak about how this can impact their audience and what unique certifications or experiences qualify you to be at the top of your niche.
Organizers may either ask you what topics you speak on in general terms or state what topic you wish to present to this audience.
If it's topics, be very specific and try to make the subject sound compelling. Niche it down if you can. Gear it to the theme or subject matter of the conference.
If it’s a specific title and description, make the title interesting, compelling, pithy, or clever. (Need some ideas or inspiration? Grab my ebook here on 20 formulas for writing irresistible titles.) If possible, let the title speak to the problem you solve, the outcome for the audience, and to what promised land you are leading them!
Again, try to adhere as closely as possible to the conference’s theme if there is one. Or speak directly to a current issue or hot topic that is on the mind of this particular audience. Emphasize the unique knowledge you bring to the table. If you have the space, use bullets to call out the takeaways—what the audience will learn. Give them a taste in brief of what the audience will experience. If you are doing engagement activities, mention them as well.
Some “call-for-speakers” invite you to make the case why you are right for this conference. Here’s where you will want to speak about why you have a particular affinity or relevance for this audience. You have been in their shoes and have been a member of this organization for many years. You have a unique expertise or experience. You grew up in this market. You’ve spoken at other major events in this industry. You’re a homegrown expert. You’re the protégé of someone they respect. Here’s where you can really make your case!
Don’t give them some unsmiling, boring headshot, or something that’s been cut out from another image. Give them a great, current (not outdated) headshot with a warm smile or a look of professional competency. You may also provide a great stage shot with excellent lighting that shows you in action.
On rare occasions, you may be asked for a video link for a sample of your presentation style or a sizzle reel. Make sure it’s professionally edited and is a great showcase for you.
Have all this on hand before you begin submitting, because some forms “time out” if you don’t upload all the information without delays. Having it together in advance will ensure your effort won’t have to be repeated and will make repetitive submissions easy and quick!
About the author:
Jackie Lapin’s SpeakerTunity®, The Speaker and Leader Resource Company, helps leaders get booked faster, easier, and more places. SpeakerTunity® has researched hundreds of thousands of speaker lead contacts and has curated them to meet your needs—live and virtual events and meetings, conferences, podcasts/radio shows/videocasts, virtual summits, TEDx events, and more.
You’ll also discover easy ways to get your speaker one-sheet, speaker handouts, and slides designed. You can either learn how to book yourself at SpeakerTunity® or arrange to have a virtual assistant or booking agent book for you. SpeakerTunity® is the Ultimate Speaker Toolbox, one-stop shopping for the speaker/leader.