Find your voice: How do you become a speaker at an event?
Commanding the stage at a keynote session is one of the biggest profile-boosting goals for many business leaders, but the question is: how do you become a speaker at an event?
While innovative thinkers across all sectors recognise the right speaker opportunities have significant potential to enhance their reputation among key audiences and steer influential discussions, securing a coveted speaking slot and outshining competitors isn’t always easy.
As conference and award planners set to work on building agendas for 2024 and beyond, now is the ideal time to develop refined strategies for taking the spotlight – and our expert team at GingerMay has three top tips to help maximise success.
Make yourself an attractive prospect
As obvious as it sounds, the core ingredient for a strong speaker bid is you – and more specifically, your personal branding. Holding extensive expertise is certainly an advantage, but this asset won’t help win the attention of event organisers if it isn’t showcased effectively.
It’s therefore vital to cultivate a strong online presence that will get you noticed for the right reasons. At the practical level, an important element of achieving this will be covering the core bases of thought leadership: such as sharing unique vertical-specific insights and opinions through company blogs, LinkedIn posts, and articles placed in well-chosen trade or national media publications. Sixty-five percent of B2B professionals believe a single piece of thought leadership coverage can substantially improve the perception of a company, and by extension, cement the author’s prominent industry position.
Additionally, it’s vital not to overlook the value of highlighting your achievements. Creating a digestible summary of your successes and credentials will equip you with a compelling ‘speaker CV’. Going a step further and compiling a short video, such as a showreel of past event or presentation clips, can also tangibly demonstrate your speaking abilities, as well as giving organisers a sense of your style to inform their decision.
For more advice on how to craft a compelling profile, check out our personal PR checklist.
Don’t skip on essential event research
No matter how interesting events might seem on paper (or a screen), ensuring positive impact for your individual profile and organisation means putting in the groundwork to determine if it’s the right fit on all sides. Or in other words: doing your homework.
Reviewing agendas is a good start to determine whether key topics align with your own specialist knowledge, as well as your business focus and PR strategy. There is, however, no substitute for real experience.
Visiting events as an attendee before applying to speak will provide a first-hand opportunity to gauge their general tone, mix of trends, and audience demographic. Moreover, sitting in on keynotes from other speakers will also be beneficial to not only learn what kind of session format works, but also determine what you can offer. For instance, the GingerMay team’s long-running attendance at major advertising and technology events has highlighted that Cannes is often best suited to exploration of transformative industry-wide shifts, while DMEXCO frequently zooms in on the next big disruptive innovations.
Armed with this insider intelligence, you will be equipped to develop a tailored speaker submission that outlines the value you will bring; concentrating on how your perspective will fill gaps in the current conversation and move it forward.
Create (truly) compelling content
Last but by no means least is making sure your submission stands out from the crowd. While the optimal keynote formula for each event will naturally differ, there are several factors that will give you an extra edge in the selection process:
- An engaging title: While this may feel like a small consideration, your session title is what will initially catch the eye of organisers sifting through dozens of submissions and motivate them to read on. If your bid is successful, it will also play an integral part in enticing event attendees to choose your keynote from packed agendas. Our advice is to keep it short, don’t be afraid of punchy puns, and clearly communicate what the session will include.
- Provide valuable insights: The most engaging (and popular) sessions centre around addressing the priorities and challenges of their target audience. As a result, it’s a smart move to set out how you will provide genuinely useful takeaways, such as detailing plans to debut exclusive research findings or demonstrate how emerging tools solve industry issues.
- Bring your story to life: Similarly, incorporating plans to present a case study will add greater context and credibility. Where this entails walking through an implementation for your company’s featured tool, grounding your session with a real-life example — or even better, inviting a client to share the stage and tell their side of the story — will enhance interest and increase the chances of earning trust, alongside new business.
Ultimately, the principles of event speaking are similar to those you should be applying when seeking high-quality media coverage. After all, the ability to maximise your appeal to those that can help amplify your voice will always be a critical facet of PR and communications.
In addition to conducting comprehensive research and picking events with care, you must be persistent but patient. While targeted applications will be much more likely to yield desired outcomes, rivalry can be fierce. Be prepared to encounter potential passes or rejections and treat them as valuable opportunities to fine-tune your approach.
Once you’ve bagged that dream speaker slot, it’s also paramount not to lose momentum; leverage the doors that the event opens and continue working on your skills, network, and reputation to ensure you remain a sought-after speaker.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you become a speaker at an event, get in touch here.