In this webinar session, best-selling author Aurora Gregory outlines how to get picked for conference speaking events.
From finding the perfect events to start at to creating eyeball grabbing titles: this guide is filled with practical tips and insights for speakers looking to land that ideal conference spot.
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Please note that the text has slightly been edited for easier readability.
Aurora: We are here today because we want very much to be able to move our public speaking forward.
I’m wondering how things would change for your speaking activity if you could compose a speaker proposal that just was so compelling that it screamed “must include” for a conference organizer. If you could solve the mystery of what it takes to be selected. If you could take your next speaker proposal from being rejected to accepted.
I’m a communications strategist. I’ve been working in communications for over 20 years, and I’m an expert in speakers’ bureau management for corporate clients.
I’ve placed hundreds of speakers at local, national, and international events for many of my clients, many of them fortune 50 companies. I am delighted to be able to be here today with you to share what I’ve learned, so that you can do what I’ve been able to do for them.
Along with a colleague, we’ve written an Amazon public speaking bestseller called Get Picked: Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Creating an Irresistible Speaker Proposal. It is truly the secret sauce that we used to become successful in supporting our clients. We’re going to be sharing a little bit of that with you today.
There’s also additional content in that book, and I’d encourage you to take a look at that if you don’t get all your questions answered in this session.
Public speaking is all about positioning yourself as a leader in your field. It raises your profile, and there are infinitely more networking opportunities that come from public speaking.
I often tell people who are looking for a job that they should be exploring public speaking because their next boss could be in the audience.
You need to be able to find a podium with your name on it. I think that’s probably the biggest question that we get, is “I’d love to be able to speak more, but how do I find places to speak”? How do I find out who is looking for speakers?
Finding a podium with your name on it
Finding a podium with your name on it requires you to figure out where your peers and colleagues go to learn. Professional associations are committed to providing this peer to peer education, so that people like you can teach other people like you what you know how to do. Professional associations like the Association for Financial Professionals, Public Relations Society of America.
Depending on your country there are professional associations that you should be exploring if expanding, and growing your profile as a thought leader in your industry is your goal.
If you’re looking to grow a business that you run, or if you’re looking to expand your customer base you might need to go and find those opportunities. Find the places where your customers, and your referral sources go to network.
You want to pitch yourself as a speaker to those events, whether they are monthly meetings, luncheon meetings, or national conferences. Whatever they might be you want to be able to find out where they go to connect, and then go where they are. That’s where you’re going to want to find your speaking opportunities.
If your target is to encourage people, if your target is to be a motivational speaker, what you’re going to want to do is look for places where folks go to be encouraged. These are going to be places like churches, social service organizations, and educational venues. Again, these are the places where you’ll want to go to reach the people that are looking to hear what you have to share.
There are lots of places to go. I think everyone probably thinks of Google as the first place. I found what Andras is doing with SpeakerHub to be one of the best. His gathering of calls for speakers, and organizations that are looking for speakers to participate in conferences and events is one of the best. I love reading his email weekly, and seeing what he has come up with.
Lanyrd.com is also a good one. If you’re looking for events locally look for things like meetup.com, and local chapters of national associations are also always looking for speakers.
I know where I want to speak, now what do I do?
Once you have got your eye on a conference, or an event to speak at, your next question obviously is okay, now what? I know where I want to speak, now what do I do?
Every conference has a call for speakers, that’s how they solicit proposals. This call for speakers is where they lay out the rules and the deadlines. You’re going to need to know what those rules are, and you’re going to need to follow them to the letter to increase your chances. You’re going to want to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd, because it’s a competition.
Several conferences that I work with receive upwards of 600 or 700 proposals for maybe 120 speaking spots at a particular conference. Your goal is to win a spot on the agenda. You’re going to need to stand out.
5 things to make you stand out
There are 5 things that you can do in order to make you stand out.
The first thing you’re going to need to have is have a hot topic. You’re going to want your title to be something that’s rather compelling. You need a story, or a journey to highlight. Then you’re going to want to toot your own horn. You’re going to want to tell others about those success stories that you’ve had.
You can’t bore people, that’s something you’ve got to remember. Your topic has got to be hot. A hot topic is something that keeps you up at night. It’s anything new in innovative technology, new tools, or solutions.
It might be something controversial. I do a lot of work in the financial services arena, and some of the most controversial areas in that field are regulatory issues, processes, procedures, and things like that.
A hot topic is always a successful story, a problem that has been solved. Did you become a rock star at your job? Did you overcome a personal challenge, and now have a wonderful story to tell? Those make hot topics.
Your topic has to be something that is informative, and educational. It’s something that a conference organizer wants to put in front of its audience. You demonstrate that you can contribute to the conference’s goals when you bring a compelling topic to them.
Now this next item for success, selling with your title, is probably one of the most important. You’re going to make your session title stand out if you pay attention to this little bit of copy that’s white at the top.
Your title is the calling card for your presentation, it’s the calling card for your proposal. You need to dedicate some time to this. Oftentimes if you’re applying through a call for speakers they may limit the number of words that you have, so you have got to use these words wisely.
Where you can you need to be clever and creative. This is the first impression that you’ll make, and so your proposal has got to communicate why your session is important.
Run-off-the-mill titles never get you very far
Run-off-the-mill titles never get you very far. I’m going to give you some examples of some run of the mill titles, and then some titles that are more compelling that you can use to raise interest.
So a run-off-the-mill title might be, “How Businesses are Combating Electronic Payment Fraud”. A better title is, “Kicking Electronic Payment Fraudsters to the Curb”. A run-off-the-mill-title might be, “Learning Flow”, but a better title is “Embrace the Chaos: An Exercise in Making the Most of Randomness”.
I love this one. The better title is an actual title that we discovered while we were doing some research, but this is one for educators. “Educational Teaching Techniques for the Modern Classroom”...a much better title is “How I Cured Nose Picking, and Other Crazy Ideas that Improve Learning”.
That might be one of the best titles for a session that I’ve ever read, because it just screams I’ve got to know how did this teacher use duct tape to cure nose picking, and improve learning. It might be something as simple as using a piece of duct tape on a child’s desk, and using it as a bit of a chalkboard. But the fact that she brought this into her title sells her session, it sells her presentation.
Andras: Aurora, I’m going to chip in here for a second, because I like the title so much also. I think what makes it so powerful is that it’s extremely concrete, it’s very very specific, and makes you very curious at the same time.
Aurora: You’re absolutely right. It ticks all the boxes that we talk about. It’s creative, and interesting, it has a bit of humor to it, but it’s also very concrete. You’re very clear on what you’re going to learn if you come to this session.
You’re going to get ideas on how to improve from someone who has used them successfully. This is really just the quintessential, perfect title, a title that truly sells a session. You can see a title like this, without having even read what the session proposal is about, without reading the session summary, how it really could pick up the eye of a conference organizer. So, Andras, you’re so right, it really is quite perfect.
You stand out from the crowd with a great title
Remember that it’s a competition. You stand out from the crowd with a great title. That’s the first step that you’ve got, after you’ve selected your topic is to really set yourself apart from the crowd.
The next thing that you’ve got to do is work on the body of your proposal. This is often called the session summary, or the session description. In it you’ve got to tell your story, and you’ve got to know what your story is.
You’ve got to know what your story is
We’ve all had experiences with story, and we all love a good story, and there’s certainly lots of content out in the internet to tell us how important a story is. The most important part though is that a story always has a beginning, middle, and an end, and that’s what you’re trying to summarize in this concise copy that they’ve challenged you to write.
I think in the years that I’ve been working with calls for speakers I don’t think I’ve seen a proposal word count go much beyond 250 words. So you don’t have a lot of space, but you’ve got some space to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and an end.
You want to really paint a compelling picture about how you addressed a certain situation, how you solved a problem, how you met a challenge. In this space, as you’re telling your story you want to be able to help the conference organizers, and by extension the potential audience, understand how they relate to you, how you relate to them, how your experience is like their experience, and we do that through story.
You want to be impactful, compelling, and concise. Those are the three things that you want to try to accomplish in that session description. This makes the argument for why to do it, and it delivers on the promise that you made in your title.
You have this wonderful title that you’ve created. Your session description, and the story you have to tell has to deliver on the promise that you’ve made. The story that you tell in your proposal is the commitment that you make to the conference that you’ve thought through your presentation, and that you have really put yourself in the seat of someone who is sitting in the audience, and what it is that they want, and need to know.
Within that session discussion, with that session proposal, those 100 to 250 words you want to also communicate a journey. You want to communicate that you have a road that you’re going to stick your audience on.
This is the place where you want to either directly, or by implication, imply that you share what you did that others can learn from. Here’s where you want to communicate that your presentation has depth, that it can command an hour of time, that it will hold the audience’s attention for an hour, and maybe an hour plus.
You don’t want to give away all of the content that you have, because obviously you need to save that for the actual presentation if you’re selected. But you need to be able to highlight the key points of what it is that you are going to deliver in this presentation.
It’s tempting to drill down, and get very granular in the details. You’re going to have to really guard yourself from doing that. Because of course you’re very close to your story, you know it incredibly well, and you’re wanting to tell it all so that you can convince the organizers to select you. You want to give just a taste of what it is that you have to share without going too deeply.
Andras: Aurora, maybe I could jump in for a second here. Because I’m very happy that you mentioned on this slide to avoid drilling down too deeply. I think a lot of subject matter experts have the tendency to do this.
Originally I’m a lawyer. I don’t practice law anymore, but that’s what I got my degree in. I think lawyers especially, but also a lot of scientists that I work with, and engineers tend to have the approach that “I need to provide a full, comprehensive presentation that covers all eventualities, whatever might happen, I need to cover that”.
I think when it comes to this sort of presentation this is exactly the problem, where if you go too deeply you lose the audience, and you lose your story. What do you think about that?
Aurora: I think that’s absolutely true. I think one of the things we have to remember is that you have two audiences that you have to keep in mind.
The first audience that you’re trying to attract, and that you’re trying to convince is the organizing committee. Sometimes that committee is just a few people. For some conferences they employ a full task force.
If you give them too much, or if you try to make your session proposal too granular you will lose them, and then you never get the chance to speak to the larger audience, because that selection committee stands in place as the gatekeeper.
The first group that you have to get past is that selection committee. If you’re too granular they won’t get through it, they won’t read it, and they won’t see that your session proposal actually has quite a bit of merit.
If you somehow manage to get past them, and you become too granular in your presentation, then you will lose your audience, and that has all kinds of other implications to it. You don’t want to have an audience become bored while you’re speaking.
But the other thing that you have to be very thoughtful about is that your audience is going to have the opportunity to evaluate you. The last thing you want to do is give them reasons to evaluate you poorly.
You’re going to want to make sure that you strike the right balance, and then also leave an opportunity for your audience to engage with you; whether that’s immediately after the session, or post conference through some kind of contact, all of that is really important. I think we have to remember we don’t need to throw it all on the table, we just need to throw enough on the table so that we get picked.
Write your proposal in a broad enough way
You want to be able to write your proposal in a broad enough way so that it appeals to a wide range of audiences. I think, Andras, to your point, sometimes when we get too granular we end up writing a proposal that only speaks to maybe 25 percent of conference attendees.
Where you’ve got this selection committee that is charged with creating an agenda that has to appeal to perhaps thousands of attendees. It’s important that you write your session description, and that you think through your presentation in a way that appeals to a broad number of attendees.
It’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone, but it should appeal to many, so that the conference can feel confident about putting it on the agenda. Certainly for you if you get selected the last thing you want to do is present to an empty room. The broader the audience appeal, the more attendees will select your session to include on their personal conference schedule.
You’ve got to make your journey clear. Between the concept of story, and the concept of journey, we want to be able to see the road that you took, the process that you undertook, in order to convince a review committee that you should be selected, and ultimately to entice an audience to come and hear you.
Now the final thing is something I think a lot of us may have a little trouble with, and that’s tooting your own horn, and including your credentials as to why this session should be part of the conference agenda.
Results are very important, because success is the payoff for any project. I think this is very true whether you’re a motivational speaker, or you are someone who is looking to speaking to move your career, or grow your business.
What are the success measures that validate why you should be on stage? Everyone in the audience wants to do their jobs better, they want to improve their lives, they want to manage challenges better, they want to provide better service to their customers.
They want to do something better, they want to gain a better understanding. Even if it’s a controversial issue, they want a better understanding of what the issue is so that they can manage it better within their own world. You being able to deliver results, I think, is very important.
A case study
I love to tell this story. One of my clients several years ago worked with her on a speaker proposal for a conference that she very much wanted to present at. Her success story was that her and her team had through a tool that they had developed within their department, discovered six million dollars worth of hidden cash that the company was just unaware of.
It’s a complex financial process that they developed, but they uncovered six million dollars in hidden cash. When we went to prepare the proposal for this conference, what we did is we started with that statistic.
The proposal started out with the line, what if you could find six million dollars in hidden cash for your organization? From there we pulled the story, and discussed the journey that this team undertook to develop the tool and achieve this success.
Not only were they selected for the conference, but they were also selected as a highlighted session. They got a room for their presentation, they were highlighted in the conference marketing. It led to other things for this particular professional and her team. They achieved some additional professional success. But it was being very confident, and not being shy about tooting their own horn that led to that initial success of being selected for this conference.
Your key performance metrics
Be very thoughtful about what your key performance metrics are. What are the success points that you are going to point to. Even a speaker who is not coming out of this perspective, and we can go back and think about the teaching topic and title that we discussed. That teacher has some performance measures, some metrics that she was able to highlight in her session proposal that, again, delivered on that promise of the title.
The success points could be the difference between having your proposal rejected or accepted. Very often, especially with professional conferences, you’ll have multiple potential speakers submitting proposals on similar topics.
At that point the conference organizers have to make a bit of a decision. They need to decide. We really want this topic, but which of these speakers is going to be the best, the most compelling. If you’ve got three, and two have no performance metrics to share, but the third one does, their tip is more often than not going to go to the one that included performance metrics, because there is a track record that can be measured. I think everyone wants to see that.
Be very thoughtful about performance metrics, and look for places to include them where you can.
Call for speakers: a rules game
A couple things that I want to give you some key reminders about. Call for speakers have rules for a reason, and you can easily be eliminated if you ignore the rules. Be very thoughtful about deadlines, word counts. Whatever it is that they’re asking for be sure to deliver on it. Ignore them at your peril.
I know several conferences where the way that they weed out submissions that they don’t even want to consider to get the number of submissions down is they eliminate all the ones that didn’t follow the rules. They don’t even get considered because they didn’t follow the rules. Ignore them at your peril.
Proof, proof, and proof again before you submit your proposal. Nothing will make you a little bit queasy in the stomach by realizing that there was a typo, that you had a grammar problem in the paragraphs that you submitted. Proof your proposal. Get someone else to proof it for you. It’s the little things that can really take your proposal down, so take care of these little small details.
Many speaker forms offer you different opportunities to include content. They might give you say 150 words for a session proposal, but then they give you other fields within their call for speakers form to address learning objectives, or to address other key points. Never leave any of those fields, use them to your advantage.
My co-author often jokes with me, because one of my driving principles when we put together a speaking proposal, don’t leave any words on the table. If they give you 150 words, use every last one of them.
If they give you two places to include learning objectives, then don’t put learning objectives in the proposal. Put the learning objectives in the learning objective space, and use the words in the proposal to continue to build the argument. Don’t leave words unwritten, so that you use every opportunity to be able to build a case for your section.
Remember that it’s a competition. Many submit, but few are chosen. As I said, there’s a conference that I’m working on right now for a client. The conference received nearly 700 proposals for 135 speaking spots. You’ve got to stand out, that has to be your goal.
How your topic should educate
Make sure that your topic educates, and supports your professional goals. If you’re an engineer, or you’re a lawyer, and you’re looking to raise your profile in a particular area of engineering or law, pick a topic that will be interesting to your audience, but that supports the goal that you have of raising your profile in that area.
It’s important to be able to measure them together, to weigh them carefully. You have to get something out of this deal other than just being picked. Be very thoughtful about story, and be creative.
Creativity and humor
I think so often, especially when we’re pitching events that are in our professional realm that we feel like we can’t use creativity, or a little bit of humor. I think that’s a mistake. I think that showing that you have a humorous side, or that you can bring a big of humor to a serious topic is important.
It shows that you’ve been very thoughtful, it gives a little insight into your personality. I think all of those things are important. Those are the things that sell when you can’t be there to speak to your proposal.
I would also by contrast say don’t force creativity where none exists. If you need help with creativity I’m never against brainstorming with a friend, or a colleague to build thing. But if the title, or the session description doesn’t naturally lend itself to a creative flair, or something humorous, don’t force it. Just make sure that everything that you’ve put together is top notch, that you’ve used every possible opportunity.
Don’t wait until the last minute
Don’t wait until the last minute. I’m sure that you’ve heard a lot of stories about people who wait until the last minute. I’ve talked with a lot of conference organizers, and the rush of phone calls that they get as the deadline approaches asking for more time, it can be quite an onslaught. You don’t want to be the one who’s not ready, and not prepared to deliver the proposal.
Once you land that speaking gig, and after you speak you want to update, update, update. You want to spread the news that you have landed a speaking gig as far and wide as you can.
Update your SpeakerHub profile, announce it, use it as an update on LinkedIn, and update your profile and your resume. If you have professional listings with the professional associations that you might belong to definitely do that. You want to merchandise, merchandise, merchandise.
You want to share your presentation, use Slideshare. You might send a PDF copy of your slides to a colleague, or to a manager. You might use your slides as an opportunity to connect with someone that you met at the conference, that you want to build a better relationship with.
Then make sure that you make yourself available at the end of a presentation. Connect with audience members who want to connect with you. Collect those business cards. Connect on LinkedIn.
Make sure that you don’t let your presentation be the end of what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. This is that place to raise your profile, to grow your message. The connections that you make at these events are going to allow you to achieve those goals.
This is one of my favorite quotes from a gentleman named Peter Shankman, a wildly successful marketing guru. I really just appreciate his passion for marketing. He says that “If you know your stuff you should be on stage, because people believe people on stage.”
Every one of us is an expert in something, and we should be looking for opportunities to share that expertise with peers, using our expertise to grow a network to build our business, to move a message.
Oftentimes I think we tend to shy away from opportunities. We look for opportunities to come and find us. With public speaking, being able to speak at conferences, you can’t wait for the conference to come find you, you have to go after the opportunity.
If you know your stuff, you should be on stage
If you know your stuff, and every one of us on this call does, you should be on stage. You audience, your peer group will certainly believe you, and you will give them some compelling information to help them really change the way they do business, the way they live their lives, the way they manage their own activities day to day.
I’ve shared a lot of content. There’s some additional content in my book, Get Picked. One of the things that I think might be particularly helpful is there are a lot of sample speaker proposals to use as templates. If you’re interested in the book, we’d encourage you to check for it on Amazon. It’s available in print, and ebook format.
With that, Andras, we’re here. I would love to hear if there are any questions for the group that I can answer.
Andras: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I think that was a very good introduction to the topic. Obviously you followed your own advice, you didn’t get too technical, but you definitely raised the interest of the audience.
We have a couple of questions here. I do encourage everyone to type those questions in. We’ll try and answer as many as humanly possible in the next 15 or so minutes.
The very first one is about the specific performance metrics. A couple of people here asked if you could give some more examples of what you mean by performance metrics beyond the ones you mentioned.
Aurora: Sure. So performance metrics are going to be anything that provides some concrete measurement. They are factual measurements of the success for a project. In the example that I gave the metric was that the company found six million dollars in cash that was hidden away in the treasury. That six million dollars is concrete. It’s a factual, irrefutable truth about the success of the talk.
In the education example that we talked about the teacher might have used the percentage of her students who before using the steps that she used were at X performance reading level, and by the end of the school level had moved up ten percent, had improved by ten percent their reading performance.
For say someone who is a motivational speaker, perhaps you’re talking about health and wellness, and you have a weight loss metric that you want to be able to share, or say a running speed. Anything that’s concrete, factual, and irrefutable is a performance metric.
How would you set the speaker fees?
Andras: Here’s one about speaker fees. How would you set the speaker fees?
Aurora: Speaker fees are interesting. Andras, I know there’s lots of discussion on the SpeakerHub LinkedIn group about fees; whether to speak for free, not for free, what your fee should be.
I think one of the questions you have to ask an organization that you’re pitching is do they have a budget for speakers. What is their budget? What fee are they offering? I think for a lot of us we feel we’ve got to have our fees set in our mind as to what we will accept. Oftentimes the group has a fee in mind that they’re willing to pay.
I think you also have to take into consideration what level of organization are you speaking at. Are you giving a presentation for a local group, or maybe a state? Here in the United States we would do something for perhaps a state. That fee is going to be a little bit different than say for something at a national organization.
I would also keep in mind, and we’ll get into, I know the questioner is probably looking for something a little more concrete around numbers. For say a national conference, for their, what I call, the concurrent session speakers oftentimes there will not be a speaking fee that’s offered.
They will offer a complimentary registration fee. They may offer some other complimentary on site conference perks, but they won’t necessarily offer a fee. But they will offer for say a luncheon speaker for an awards luncheon that they happen to have at that conference, or certainly for their larger keynote speakers they’ll offer that.
At that point you’ve got to be able to assess what it is that they’re asking you to do. Are they asking you to give a 30 minute presentation to motivate and encourage? Your fee might be a certain rate for that, versus something where you’re actually being asked to teach something, and deliver some type of workbook content.
In terms of trying to decide and determine those fees my first question would always be for that conference, what is the budget, what budget do they have to offer. Then you’re going to have to make some decisions based on what peers in your group are also charging.
You want to make sure that what you’re asking for is in line with what your peers, your “competition” is also asking. That’s going to be different for different markets, it’s going to be different for different situations and circumstances.
Then regards to the question of speak for free, or not to speak for free, I think it really depends on your goal. If your goal is to grow your career, being a session speaker where you don’t receive a fee could really do quite a bit to help you reach your goal of securing a new position, raising your profile, building a reputation for yourself. In which case what you will receive in exchange for speaking for “free” would be worth it.
If you’re going to be speaking for a luncheon, or something larger at a conference, then absolutely you should be looking for some type of compensation.
Andras: Thank you so much for your answer. Because indeed there is a very lively discussion on LinkedIn’s Need a Speaker/Be a Speaker group, and a couple of other places. We’ve also recently had some guest authors share articles on SpeakerHub itself on this topic; whether speaking for free is a good thing, or what are the considerations you should bear in mind when establishing your fee. That’s definitely an ongoing topic, an ongoing conversation.
The #1 mistake that potential speakers make
What would you say is the number one mistake that potential speakers make during the proposal process, and with their actual speaking engagement?
Aurora: I would have to say during the proposal process one of the biggest mistakes that they can make is really at the beginning, which is the topic. Oftentimes because we’re insulated in our own world the topics that are interesting to us, we just are certain that they’re interesting to everyone else, and that’s not always the case.
Oftentimes the topics that are interesting to everyone else, and are a topic of discussion have nothing new or compelling to be discussed, in which case they don’t make very good topics.
The topic itself, you could just really shoot yourself in the foot if you pick the wrong topic. I have had some success with some really weaker topics, and dressing them up well with a great title, and a great proposal. I have had some success with that, but not often.
For the sake of time I won’t share it here, but I do have a really tragic story with one of my clients who just refused to listen that the topic they were bringing to a particular conference was just not compelling. They didn’t get selected, and it just kicked off a really unfortunate series of events for lots of people. I think the big mistake really is at the beginning with the topic.
For the actual presenters, I think one of the biggest mistakes people do is that they don’t prepare well. They may put together a fine presentation deck, but they don’t prepare, they don’t put the time into rehearsing.
They can really feel very comfortable and confident with their content, the story, and the progression of how they’re going to deliver it. Often what they end up doing is reading their slides to their audience. Then all of the great work that they did in putting a proposal together, and the effort to get picked gets left by the wayside because they just deliver a very flat presentation, and the audience is left a little underwhelmed. There’s no reason for that if you prepare well with a really solid presentation that delivers on the promise of your proposal.
Andras: I think there are so many similarities with writing a resume, or as they usually call it in Europe a CV, in terms of getting picked for a job, that as soon as you get past that hurdle, and you are offered employment then you need to really prove yourself. So it’s a very similar process.
Bouncing off ideas
How can we test the proposal? Maybe we think we have something to say, but actually we don’t. How can we test it? What is your process of bouncing off ideas, or making sure that you’re on the right track, or the speaker you’re representing is on the right track?
Aurora: One of the easy things that you can do is contact the conference directly in the weeks leading up to the deadline. I have found conference organizers, those that are responsible for overseeing this process, are very open, very willing to have a bit of a chat, or an email exchange. For you to float your topic, and ask them, is this compelling, would this be of interest?
It doesn’t imply a promise that you’re going to be selected, but it will at least let you know that you’re on the right track. The first step I would take is to get in touch with the conference.
The other thing that you can do is all of us have a network, and you can use that network as a bit of a focus group to float the topic, float the proposal, and ask them, what do you think of this? If you saw this on a conference agenda, and you had to fill your schedule, would this be a session you would pick? Would you attend this? Get the feedback. I think that’s really important.
If you aren’t certain that it’s a hot topic I think it’s a valuable exercise to tloat that out to some peers. Not peers that are going to tell you what you want to hear, but that will legitimately give you some very honest, direct, and clear feedback on what you’ve put together, and how potentially you can make it better.
Speaker’s website or a demo reel?
Andras: Which is more important, a speaker’s website with video testimonials, and a demo reel, or a very professionally submitted proposal?
Aurora: Wow. That’s a hard one to answer. I’d almost have to weigh them very carefully. I think your web presence and your proposals, both of them serve as your calling card. What I tell people is you’ve got to put your very best foot forward.
Putting together a website with a demo reel and all those things, especially if you’re starting out, can be pricey. It can be challenging to put together, finding the right professional to work with, etc. But if you can make those steps, even a simple a website with information about you, put out the very best that you can.
A proposal that you would send out, or a call for speakers that you would respond to has to deliver on the promise of your web presence. Your proposal has to deliver on the promise of your web presence.
It’s really important that regardless of the stage at which you find yourself in developing your speaking career, your speaking activity, is that you’re always putting out your very best.
If you’re in a position right now in which building a website is just not possible, have YouTube channel where you can have some links for some video for people to go and view, and put together the absolute best speaking proposal that you can.
If you’ve got the resources to build a website, even a simple one, I would encourage you to do. Make sure that any proposal that you put forward delivers on that promise. Don’t make the website so glamorous and spectacular that your proposals fall short.
I think to answer that question, whatever you do you’ve got to be able to put your very best forward, and if you can’t then wait until you can.
Andras: I think that has a lot to do with personal branding, which the topic even by itself something we could possibly cover. Aurora, thank you so much. For anyone who is interested, here are the links to Aurora’s book and her Twitter feed. Do make sure that you follow her, you check her site, you read the book, share whatever you have learned from that. Make sure that you follow SpeakerHub on every possible social media channel as well.
This concludes the very first session of our Master Class. The next one is coming up nine days on the 19th of October. We’re talking about the Tribe of Fanatics for your Speaking Brand, so there we go with personal branding.
Feel free to reach out to Aurora, or to us, and we’ll always be very happy to help you develop your speaking career.
A bit about our speaker
Aurora Gregory is the best-selling co-author of "Get Picked: Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Creating Irresistible Speaker Proposals" She has years of experience in leading speaker’s bureau programs that have placed hundreds of speakers at local, national, and international conferences. Some of the biggest brands in business have worked with her to get their message right, create communications programs that connect with target audiences, and set marketing strategies—all achieving stellar results.
Helping people develop skills to deliver their most important messages to customers, media, and presentation audiences is Aurora's passion.