Home How to Land an Event Panel Spot or Speaker’s Invite

How to Land an Event Panel Spot or Speaker’s Invite

One of the best ways to become an industry influencer is to get involved in industry events. They’re a great way to surround yourself with respected colleagues and they offer your the opportunity to network with others who share your interests. If you’ve got the guts to go toe-to-toe with some of the industry’s top pundits, get yourself on stage and show the world what you’re made of. When you apply for speaking opportunities, here are some of the points to consider.

Reach and Engagement: One of the most important things to remember is that event planners want to fill audience seats. If you can prove that you’re going to contribute to that, you’re more likely to be invited onto a panel. Event companies often use platforms like Strutta and Vator TV to encourage voting and early audience participation. The voting indicates whether or not you have a following. Meanwhile, competitions like the Enterprise 2.0 Launch Pad event gauge the interest on Twitter as startup fans retweet pitches to the first round of TechWeb judges.

Relevancy and Expertise: In some cases expertise is pre-determined by the events you’ve already spoken at. If you’re trying to get into a mobile event, it makes sense to explain that you’ve already spoken at another mobile conference. If this event is your first one, you may want to include links to white papers, blog posts and testimonial from notable industry celebrities. One way to ensure that you’re pitching a timely idea is to poll your network via Google Moderator, Linkedin Question or Aardvark and find out what they want to hear from you. Sometimes it’s easiest to see your most engaging material when an outsider offers you feedback.

Entertainment and Sound Bites:An event planner’s biggest fear is that you’re going to be forgettable. It’s actually better to completely self-destruct than it is to be forgettable because at least self-destruction gets talked and tweeted about. In order to draw people in, many speakers pitch personal anecdotes and place them within the context of our shared history as startup entrepreneurs. Listeners generally find stories about themselves fascinating and if you focus on collective learning rather than your company pitch, you’re more likely to produce an entertaining presentation. If you’ve got video of past speaking engagements or podcasts send those along with your application. Organizers are looking for panelists who are lively and sound bite-able so avoid using industry buzz words like “ramen profitable” or “minimum viable product”. If an organizer wanted wisdom from Paul Graham or Eric Ries he or she would invite Paul Graham or Eric Ries. This panel application should be about you sharing the lessons you’ve learned.

Photo Credit: Tom Woodward under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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