Ten Tips for Creating and Executing a Successful Speaking Program

A successful speaking program consists of identifying and generating a full calendar of potential speaking opportunities in a specific business arena, and then creating a targeted speaking submission or pitch to be considered as an addition to the conference agenda. Potential speaking opportunities can include workshops, panel presentations, keynotes or case studies.

Following are (courtesy of Affect Strategies), 10 steps for companies to take when creating a speaking program for their clients or business:
1. Decide what to speak about - The first step to creating a speaking program is to get a good grasp on what you or your prospective speaker are qualified to talk about. You can get inspiration by looking at what other members of your industry are discussing at upcoming events and conferences. It's important to remember that different conferences cover different areas of your industry; so it's helpful to make a list of all the potential speaking topics that you come up with. Also, consider topics that could be presented as part of a panel discussion.
2. Do your research - The best way to find conferences that could evolve into speaking opportunities is to research events in your industry and target geographical area. You should also look at event calendars for trade publications and associations. It's good practice to take a look at where your competitors are speaking or exhibiting. They may lead you straight to prospective clients.

3. Create a conference matrix - A conference matrix is a comprehensive list of all the conferences and events that are taking place in your industry over the course of a year. A conference matrix should include: the name and date of the conference, the conference website's URL, an overview or brief description of the conference agenda, the deadline for speaking submissions and the contact information for the speaking coordinator.

4. Write a speaking abstract(s) - The purpose of a speaking abstract is to organize all of the information that you will need to reach out to conference organizers. The abstract should include a catchy session title, a general overview on what will be covered, clear takeaways and a brief biography with relevant information about your company and qualifications. You may have several abstracts that are suitable for different types of conferences.

5. Submit targeted speaking proposals - It's important to use your speaking matrix to keep track of due dates for speaking submissions. Take the time to learn enough about a conference so that you are delivering your speaking proposal on-time and in the exact manner that is requested. Never submit a proposal that isn't specifically tailored for the conference that you are looking to secure. This often means tweaking an abstract for every conference that you apply for. Calls for proposals (sometimes called papers) are usually six to nine months in advance of a conference.

6. Keep communication short and simple - When emailing a conference producer, ask them how they'd like to receive your information and then deliver exactly what they want. Wordy emails often get skimmed and deleted, so make sure that you get your information across as quickly and succinctly as possible. This is the best way to ensure that your email is understood and answered quickly, cutting through the clutter of a full inbox.

7. Be friendly - Remember that many people are submitting their speaking ideas for the conferences that you are interested in. An easy and simple way to stand out is to be consistently friendly and cordial to the conference producer. Keep in mind that these producers are the gatekeepers to a secured opportunity. They can also provide you with valuable guidance. If you strike up a conversation, you may find out that they are seeking an expert on a specific topic that you can cover or that they are only interested in executives of a particular title.

8. Follow up - Sending an email or submitting an online form with your speaking abstract is not enough to secure a speaking engagement. You need to follow up with the speaking coordinator to make sure that it was received. You should follow up two to three days after you submit, and then once every two weeks until the speakers are announced. Make sure that the conference coordinator knows your name (in a good way) so that when it comes time to make a decision, they immediately think of you and your session.

9. Close the deal - It's important to remember that writing the abstract and submitting the pitch is only half the battle. Your personality and follow-up skills are your best assets, so remember to utilize both to your advantage. And if you've made it to the conference, as a speaker, or just an attendee, take the time to introduce yourself personally to the conference organizers. If you make a good impression, it can help you get on next year's program.

10. Establish a good reputation - Once you've secured a few speaking engagements, it's important to develop a strong reputation on the speaking circuit so that you will be thought of for future events. You can develop a good reputation by making sure that you meet all of the deadlines that are put in place by the conference producers. Make sure that you submit your presentation when it's due and arrive at the conference fully prepared and at the scheduled time.

Speaking engagements offer the opportunity to meet new clients while working alongside colleagues and other industry experts. With the right balance of knowledge, research and personality, the marketing value of a speaking program is immeasurable.

Source: Affect Strategies

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