Landing major keynote spots requires a strategy, and the plan can take time to execute. Conference organizers plan their agenda months in advance and are looking for speakers who will be able to address a topic that is likely to be timely next year. Katy Boos, CEO and founder of Remix Communications (see sidebar), whose thought leadership agency focuses on landing these types of mainstage speaking opportunities, suggests getting inside the head of the event organizer. Bring an idea for a panel discussion and a few potential panelists. You may not be of interest to the conference organizer, but if you can bring along a board member or client who is a draw, that may help secure the spot.
Just being on stage is testament to your credibility. So make sure you deliver something helpful and meaningful to the audience. Avoid the common mistakes of being too self-promotional or failing to know the audience. Conference organizers pay close attention to the feedback they get from participants and will invite the most effective speakers back. They don’t, however, want speakers who are trying to sell something. Just being on the stage should be enough. Boos’s rule of thumb: you can mention your firm or your product but only once.
Making the most of your speech
Landing a presenting gig kicks off a sequence of communications opportunities for you and your team. Start by posting the news to your website to let people know you will be speaking. Share the news in emails (add a promo to your signature), on socials and in your client newsletter. Conference organizers love when speakers promote the event, helpfully driving attendance.
Use every speaking opportunity as a chance to connect with media too. Ask the conference organizers for a media list. Try to set up sit-downs in advance to make the most of your time at the conference. If you can’t pre-schedule meetings, most conferences have a media room. Stop by and network before or after your speech. And even if you aren’t a speaker at the conference, stop by the media room any way. Conferences are a great way to connect with media.
Lastly, don’t forget to share your own and the conference organizers’ social posts during and after the conference using the conference’s hashtags. When you return, write a blog post about your experience.
It’s become increasingly competitive to secure speaking gigs. Over the years, the Lowe Group has developed a reputation with event producers for understanding which presenters might be a good match for conference audiences. Let us help you connect—contact us to discuss.