I am constantly going over submitted speaker submissions for ideas about speaking at the events I manage. Many of the speakers have much the same talk and it is some of the usual suspects that I see get a shot at speaking. Some of the speaker agencies out there submit 10 applications to speak and all they do is change the name of their client and that can be especially frustrating when you are the one that has to read every application and determine those that make the cut for speaking engagements and those that you have to tell, “Maybe next year.” It is tough to make those calls and it is even tougher to tell the folks their submission didn’t make it. I think there are a number of things that can be done by speakers when applying to speak at events that can help your chances.
Be Unique – That may sound very basic but like I said many of the speakers out there all want to talk about the latest and hottest item in their industry and if you don’t stand out you can be assured you will be added to the “No Thanks” pile.
Know Your Organizers – This is not so typical of what I think is on the windshields of those that apply to speak but if you know more about those that are involved in the decision making process the better. Do a little research on who those people are and what they do. This can provide invaluable if you get a chance to pitch the idea later.
Keep It Simple – Organizers of events have a very limited amount of time to go through 100′s of submissions. Keep your title catchy but simple and your pitch should be very much an elevator pitch. If the organizer reading your submission has to spend too much time getting to the money portion of the pitch, you may end up on that pile quickly.
It’s Not About You – The worst thing I see in the pitch is that the applicant want to make the talk about them and how cool they are. What you need to do is make it about the event and their attendees. You pitch from the stage and you may never be asked back to an event. They want to make the best conference for their people. Make it about them.
Speaking at events is for some the best marketing you can have. You get to be seen as an expert, you get exposure and you get to be the rock star. Remember that organizers also are looking for the person that understands that from their point of view. Your applications should be selling to the organizer and it should be your best stuff, but they see it as an honor for them to invite you to their show not that you have graced them with your presence. Keep your egos and your chest thumping to a minimum. Make it your mission to make their conference the best it can be and they will respond favorably when it comes times to make a decision on who gets to speak.