Have you ever attended a conference and said to yourself, "I should be teaching this education session"? If you answered yes, then why aren't you?
Now, before you go ahead and tell me I don’t have time; I don’t have the resources; I don’t know where to start to even submit to speak at an event, let me stop you and remind you of something very important – all the excuses end right here. If you managed to say to yourself at that last conference you attended – “How on earth did this person end up on stage educating us on a topic they apparently are a novice at,” then you have the background and expertise to be teaching a class like that at the next conference. Let me remind you, you are AMAZING at what you do, and you need to spread your knowledge to others.
I have been there too. I sat through many education sessions and said to myself, “I should be teaching this class”; so I did something about it. Let’s talk about how to get started and how to get yourself on that stage.
Pitch your expertiseWhat will you speak about?
Formulate your presentation content around what you know best. If you are a sales superstar put together a session on best sales practices. Submit session titles, overviews and learning objectives on your topic. These short synopses are just what event managers are looking for. They not only make their job easier, but they give them a glimpse of what your session has in store.
Another key component to include in your session is a catchy title. Put a creative spin on your title; make sure it is interesting and thought-provoking. This will help your chances of having your session to be a sure shot selection.
Put yourself out there
Network and attend conferences. Start familiarizing yourself with the educational content and sessions. Make it a point to meet the program and conference managers; even if it’s just introducing yourself, and exchanging contact information. Research conference websites, and visit their ‘call for speakers’ page. Put yourself out there and submit your proposed session. You will never know if you don't try. Above all do not get discouraged. Submitting speaking presentations is a numbers game. The more you submit, the better chance your session has in getting picked up.
Speak for freeRome wasn't built in a day and neither was your professional speaking career. In order to build credibility and notoriety you have to start speaking for free. This also allows you to test market yourself. It helps you learn what works and what doesn’t. Once you build momentum and have a few successful presentations under your belt, start to ask for testimonials from session reviews. This will give you the foundation to then ask for speaker fees and travel expenses on your next gig.
Sneak peeksOnce the conference program team selects your education session, offer to write a sneak peek blog of what their audience can expect during your session. Submitting blogs helps build some hype around your session because it gives conference attendees the chance to fit your session into their schedule in advance. Having a large crowd is important to show conference management that your session topic is in high demand.
Woo your audienceUse the latest presentation tools like Prezi.com and graphically, attractive powerpoints for a visually appealing presentation. Make sure your session is interactive with audience polls, social media check-ins, and test exercises. These are all great ways to make attendees feel a part of your presentation.
Also, tailor your presentation around the conference demographic. Ask the event manager the primary demographic of who typically attends the show. This will help you add real-world experiences within your presentation that specifically relate to their business. This tactic will earn you points in post-event surveys and will show your attendees that you did your homework.
Immortalize your presentationUpload your presentation in Slideshare.net post-show, so it can live on after you speak at the conference. When you are posting your presentation online, be sure to give all appropriate image credit, links, and research credit. Once it is uploaded, share it on social media so conference attendees and other event professionals can access the presentation.
Shelf your presentationsAfter you start building various presentations on your expertise, start to shelf them. Offer them as online training on your website or as event presentations for future conferences.
Perfect your skillsWhether you're a seasoned communicator or a novice, it's always good to perfect your skills when you speak in front of an audience. You can't be dry or monotone; this will negatively affect your presentation’s reviews. Seek out to better yourself through speaker training via Toastmasters, Dale Carnegie, local technical schools, colleges, or universities. Delivery and body language are crucial in performing a stellar presentation. These resources will help you perfect these skill areas.
Confidence is key. If you are passionate at what you do, it will always shine through. For those of you who have been successful at speaking and educating at events, how did you get started? What advice or tips do you have for those who want to get on that stage?
Michelle Bergstein-Fontanez - Marketing Maven and Social Media Specialist at Event Industry Marketing by BeatCreative
Michelle lives, eats and breathes marketing for the event and meeting industries. Known as the "Event Marketing Maven" and a consummate social media/ online marketing enthusiast. Her innate ability lies in helping companies create an online presence through smart and engaging marketing strategy. Her company's client portfolio includes many influential event planners, suppliers, and small businesses in Central Florida and beyond. With an intensive 10 + year background in advertising, marketing and communications, she brings innovative design and savvy marketing approach to all her client projects. As a national speaker and educator on social media for event businesses and at events, Michelle is passionate about lending her expertise in contributing to international blogs, renown local and national publications. She has been featured in Fast Company, Crains New York Business, Special Event Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly, and BizBash.