Through the years I have spoken with many people who are tempted to pitch for a speaking spot at a conference. I know that although many people may pitch well they may not do well at the podium. For some it is not easy to speak in public and it really is not easy to be an effective speaker at a conference in front of all your peers.
I contacted some people I consider conference experts and they have some advice if you are going to speak at a conference.
Danny Sullivan – @DannySullivan
Well, Chris just did a long post of what not to do for us:
I suppose the key question is what does the speaker consider successful? The speaker may have a different view than the audience.
If your goal in speaking is pitch your company as much as possible, that might be deemed a success by you but probably not the audience. They didn’t come to learn about your company. They didn’t come to hire you. They came to learn.
To me, your success as a speaker happens because more than anything else, you do it out of a desire to teach, to share knowledge and to help others. If you’ve started from that standpoint, you’re far along the path to success.
Speakers often speak, of course, because they want to get something more than just satisfaction of sharing out of the talks they give. I think wise speakers understand that when they’re not pitching, when they’re educating, they’re demonstrating that they have great skills that others could use.
You’re not “giving away” away anything other than the fact you’re a smart person that someone might want to hire. People come to learn, but they may also learn that they’d rather have someone else work for them. The best pitch is no pitch at all.
Beyond not pitching, your success comes from your ability to show, rather than tell, as much as possible. People like specific examples, exact information on how something happened, a process they can see rather than generic bullet points they can read. Takeways may sound cliché, but that’s what people want.
Not all panels are tactical, of course, so the ability to see or share a big picture view of coming changes, something different or unique, is also welcomed.
Barry Schwartz – @RustyBrick
I rarely speak, but the main thing is to know what you are talking about. So much so, that you can give the presentation without even preparing. Not that you shouldn’t prepare. But I would only speak on a topic if I know I can give the presentation without having to prepare.
Marty Weintraub – @aimClear
There are no substitutes for hard work and authentic sharing. We think the best tactic is to invest research, time and be willing to truly offer up current, relevant tactics. The more a speaker is willing to give, the better. We invest a lot of time pitching sessions, speaking proposals and building the presentations.