How to Land a Speaking Gig
If you’re looking to build your personal or company brand, a speaking gig is a great way to elevate your profile. Here are four tips on how to submit a speaking proposal that lands you on the agenda:
Tip 1: Pay Close Attention to the Guidelines
Oftentimes, conference organizers will put together a set of guidelines that help them manage the proposals they receive. Some will ask you to limit the number of words in your description, some may require certain certifications, or experience, while others will ask for references. Most will ask you to fill out a specific form, and all of them will have a deadline for submitting proposals.
The organizers set these standards for a reason. Whether they receive 5, 10, 100, or 1,000 proposals – they need to be able to compare apples to apples. So, receiving all of the proposals in the same format helps them identify clear differences.
Consider the guidelines a helpful tool. They are the organizers’ way of telling you exactly what they want. Follow the guidelines, your proposal will shine and you’ll have a better chance than others who didn’t follow the rules to land the speaking gig.
Tip 2: Over-Explain Your Speaking Proposal
I’ve organized multiple conferences (as well as spoken on three different continents) and the best advice I can offer is to over-explain what you’re hoping to speak about. Since proposals are considered on their own, content committees have to make decisions based just on what is in the proposal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to someone after rejecting their proposal, only to hear something that would have made me consider their talk in a totally different light. And I’ve been on the other side of that conversation, as well. I’ve talked to event organizers and realized that they had rejected my talk because I hadn’t given them enough context to understand my proposal.
— Thursday Bram writes, speaks, and organizes communities around technology, business, and culture.
Tip 3: Research the Conference Audience
My best tip for booking the speaking job is to really understand the audience you’ll be speaking to. Search through the website, speak to someone at the organization. Often I will get the most insider information by just asking questions. Find out who they had in the past and you often get a good idea of the types of speakers they like.
— Julie Austin is an award-winning author, inventor, futurist, innovation speaker. She’s been an innovation keynote speaker for corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Northrop Grumman, and Cognizant Technology Solutions. She’s also been featured in the books “Patently Female” and “Girls Think of Everything”.
Tip 4: Apply
The final tip I’ll share on how to land a speaking gig is simple: Apply to speak.
There’s no way to know whether or not your session is a good idea, or if you’re the kind of presenter that a conference is looking for if you don’t take the first step by applying to speak.
Filling out an application is a way to start a conversation. Give it your best effort, and then follow-up with the organizers. They’ll likely send you an email confirmation that you can respond to.
Use Thursday’s tip and offer more information about yourself and the value you can bring to the conference. You could use Julie’s tip as well to ask the organizers if there is anything deeper, broader, or different you could talk about that would best fit their needs.