Anyone who’s tried it knows that presenting is one of the best ways to make a big idea stick and spread.
But events are waning. Event organisers struggle to pull in big enough, paying audiences. They’ve cut spending on boring conferences. And they struggle to sell sponsorship. So, worthwhile speaker slots are harder to get. Here are some tricks of the trade.
1. Pay (TRICK)
The easiest way to get to speak is to pay for the privilege. You pay to sponsor the event. The going rate can start at £5,000 for a basic exhibition stand, an entry in the delegate pack, and a 45-minute speaker slot.
For more control, you can underwrite the cost of a conference. That can be more than £50,000. You share the risk (and, sometimes, proceeds) with the event organiser.
Or you can put on your own event. That’s a lot of work!
But watch out for unscrupulous event organisers. They try to hook paying speakers using flattery. They exaggerate the numbers and ‘quality’ of delegates.
There’s another risk. Delegates have started to question the authenticity of speakers. They can easily switch off for the ‘sponsor’s pitch’.
There’s nothing wrong with paying to speak. The trick is: making your presentation authentic. Having spent the money, make sure your presentation is extra special.
2. Don’t pay (TREACL)
The harder way to get to speak is to be the natural choice. It’s better. And free (or paid). But you need to make sure that event organisers know who you are. They use referrals, their networks, and Google.
There are some simple steps to get you started.
a. Be clear about your big idea.
b. Write a list of who your big idea affects. (Tip: it’s not just professionals in your field!)
c. Ask those people what events they go to.
d. Research those events. Who do they target? What are their themes? Who are the organisers?
e. Phone the organisers. But don’t just beg for a speaker slot!
f. Ask them about their issues, and what’s most important to them about their event.
g. Honestly assess your big idea’s fit with their issues and themes.
h. Reveal your passion during your sales pitch.
i. Be humble, and take a ‘graveyard shift’. (The best one’s just before lunch.)
We can help if you struggle. But when the organiser books you, remember some of the following.
j. Invite your contacts. Event organisers offer discounts for friends of speakers. Tell your media contacts, and your own organisation’s PR person.
k. Honour your promise by giving the event organiser everything they need when they need it. (More on planning soon.)
l. Deliver the talk of your life.
m. Hang around to speak with delegates afterwards.
n. Visit sponsors’ exhibition stands.
o. Give feedback to the event organiser.
p. Talk about the event in the following days and weeks. That includes follow-up with people you’d met there.
q. Keep in touch with the event organiser. Share relevant information with them.
r. Offer to help them develop their next event’s theme.
After doing this a few times you’ll be balancing being reactive and being proactive. Try to keep abreast of upcoming conferences at least six months in advance. And balance these with the invitations that organisers will start to send you. Be diverse!