Get Hired as a Speaker—Over and Over Again
Why are you not speaking at every conference? You feel like your topic is relevant, you feel like you do everything right, yet the phone calls aren’t pouring in. Do you ever wonder why you see the same people speaking at multiple conferences? Then wonder how that could be you?
The world of niche conferences is very small, and sometimes the pool of speakers at those conferences seems equally small. I would like to share with you a little peak behind the curtain so you can understand how speakers are selected, and how to ensure that you are selected again and again.
Here are four tips:
1. Meet your deadlines. If the conference is an organized event, they will give you the deadlines for your presentation far before they are due. Mark your calendar at least three weeks prior to your deadlines as your own due date. I can’t tell you how many people have written me on the presentation due date to tell me they couldn’t get it to me because their house flooded, or the were out of the office all day, or their kid got sick, etc. We all know life happens, so make sure your presentation is finished before the deadline. If you contact me on the day-of to tell me that something came up and you couldn’t do it, that shows me you are waiting until the last minute to get things done and you are not a prepared speaker. And in my lovely files I will write a note that you miss deadlines.
Deadlines aren’t meant to be cruel and make you do extra work. Conference organizers create deadlines so they can proof the content. They want to start seeing if they have bandwidth, check the content for duplication, and be able to balance overall session flow. When you fail to meet the deadlines, you are inconveniencing multiple departments—the A/V Team, Spacial Placement Team, Tech Team, Agenda Team, Web Team etc. So step up, take action, and always meet your deadlines.
2. Be kind to every person in the process. Let me give you two examples. I went to a conference and I saw an amazing speaker. He was really on his game. He had great marketing advice. He delivered a lot of information that was actionable, and was funny at the same time. I spoke to the conference organizer after the session and said, “I want to book him!” She immediately told me, “Don’t. He was completely rude to my staff, was terrible to negotiate with, and wouldn’t come out of his hotel room until we had specific items set up in the speaker ready room for him.” So guess what? I didn’t hire him, and haven’t seen him in our circuit for over 2 years now. On the opposite side, I have had the pleasure of working with someone who repeatedly asks me, “Misty what else can I do to make your job easier?” How many of you have asked your conference contact that question? I have booked this person multiple times and have recommended them to four other conferences. So it pays to be nice, literally PAYS.
3. Communication is mandatory. If you are stuck somewhere, if your flight is late, whatever it is that will affect the show, contact someone! Don’t tell sob stories to the coordinator. Just communicate. Say something like, “I am going to be late due to flight delay next flight is leaving in an hour.” If I don’t know where you are and your session is that day, believe me my stress level is through the roof.
Communication should happen surrounding the entire event. Before the conference, be clear about deadlines and social media. During conference address your arrival time, and where you need to be and when. Post conference request a copy of your speaking scores to see how you can improve.
4. Show up. This may sound like an odd thing to say, however once you book an event don’t back out. Show up. Be there. This also means don’t drink so much the night before that you don’t wake up in time for your 7:30am session. Show up ready to be amazing and ready to show people why you are selected again and again.
Lastly I need to make something clear. If you are not selected, do not whine about it, or complain, or write emails to see why you didn’t get selected. It DOES NOT LOOK GOOD and puts the organizer in an awkward position! Instead, understand that the organizer may need a specific set of topics, they may need a certain mix of people, they may have an agenda that they need to fill and may have had to turn away multiple people—not just you. What I would do instead is attend the conference. If the organizer has time, ask how you can help next year and tell them what a great job they did. Being kind is always a good thing.
I repeatedly recommend the people that I love to work with and I know that other conference organizers do the same. So remember to meet your deadlines, be kind, communicate without complaining, show up, and be your best self.
Here’s to seeing you at multiple conferences!