Wednesday, 03 July 2019
When you are growing a business, marketing and PR are key. A feature in national press or a viral social media campaign can make a huge difference to your brand awareness, and you should maximise these opportunities whenever you can. However, it is very easy to slip into a bit of a promotional drought without a new product launch or a topical news story that relates to your offering.
When this happens, speaking opportunities are a great way of keeping your brand in the public eye. Whilst some founders struggle with public speaking, it is a valuable skill to add to your arsenal as a business owner. Not only does taking to the stage raise your company’s profile but putting a face to a brand can also increase customer loyalty.
Here are our top tips on securing speaking gigs.
Identify conferences relevant to your sector, way ahead of time
Most conferences will plan their agenda at least 6 months ahead of time, and therefore there are often long lead times for speaker submissions. It’s essential to try and get ahead of the curve and keep your finger on the pulse of upcoming events in your industry.
A quick Google search can reveal a whole host of conferences and events that focus on your sector. Whilst dates will often change year on year, you can always contact the organisers of past events to find out when their next one is and to start nurturing that relationship. Websites such as Eventbrite promote smaller and local events and many media outlets host conferences throughout the year – so this can be another good avenue of investigation.
Understand who is your best speaker
As a founder, you may feel like you always have to be the person to represent your brand, but it could be that you have some great raconteurs elsewhere in your organisation. If your Business Development Manager speaks confidently and eloquently about your latest offering, why not suggest they put themselves forward for conferences or panels? The nature of the conference can also determine who would be the best employee to attend - it may not make sense for your Creative Director to be speaking at a finance event, but your CFO could be just the person for the bill.
When it comes to speaking gigs, a divide and conquer mentality can be beneficial. This approach can also help relieve ‘Founder Fatigue’. Depending on your sector, the conference circuit may be fairly small and if people see the same person talking about the same thing over and over again, it can lose impact.
Make sure your social media is working for you
Good speakers are often just great thinkers with a little bit of confidence! Your social media is a great way of showing people how you think, what you’re passionate about and what opinions you hold, so use it wisely, especially if you are keen to secure speaking opportunities.
Conference producers are looking for people who are experts in their field, opinionated about a certain topic or who have an interesting and varied background. Your social media channels can reflect all of this and more if you use it correctly.
Think about changing your description on Linkedin to include keywords you want to be associated with - this will help you come up on searches when event staff are looking for speakers. You could also use your social media to share blogs or vlogs where you are discussing a topic that means a lot to you or you have a unique perspective on.
Maximise Your Opportunities
So you’ve scoped out the landscape, refined your social media channels and secured your first speaking gig - congratulations! But now it is time to maximise that opportunity and ensure that you make an impact on and off the stage.
Once again, social media plays an important role here. Make sure you have somebody taking pictures and videos of your talks. Sharing these on your social media channels will not only be valuable promotion for your business, but it will definitely help you secure more speaking gigs in the future. You can create blog posts about the event, or case studies if your talk has involved audience participation.
Speaking opportunities are also a great chance for networking! If there is time after your talk, make sure you stick around at the event. As a speaker or a panelist, you will be surprised at how many people will gravitate towards you, keen to continue the conversation. Don’t rush off - enjoy your moment, make meaningful connections and bask in the glory of nailing your first speaking gig!