The two most dreaded words in the English language: public speaking.
Some of us love it while some more of us hate it. But, speaking in front of your colleagues and peers is a great way to not only develop new skills but also advance your professional career. And, speaking in front of a greater audience, say at a conference, is a perfect way to not only share your expertise and story with others in your industry but it also serves as an opportunity to build your personal brand. When you give a presentation to a large audience, all eyes are centered on you and mass visibility comes with it.
To be bestowed this honor, many times you’ll be asked to apply to speak at the conference. This allows the conference committee to make sure they have the cream of the crop when it comes to speakers and topics. So, when applying to speak at a conference, it is crucial that your submission stands out to the selection committee.
With that said, here are 4 tips to follow to ensure your speaking submission knocks the committee’s socks off:
1. Be sure to complete all “highly recommended sections” in the application
You should look at the “highly recommended section” as a red flag. “Highly recommended” means that about half the people complete it, and about half don’t. So…don’t be in the latter half! The more information you provide (read: the more care you put into your application), the better position you’ll put yourself in to stand out from your competitors. So, my point is clear: treat “recommended” as “required,” and watch your application bulldoze past the lazy folks.
2. Include any previous speaking engagements
If you’re already well-versed and comfortable in the public speaking arena (congratulations! I wish I was you), then make sure to jot down those previous experiences in your application (sorry, but your kindergarten show-in-tell doesn’t count). That said, only include speaking sessions where you and the content really shined—perhaps your stage presence was widely applauded by your industry peers or your presentation was referenced time and time again. Whatever the case may be, if you had a killer moment on stage, make sure the committee knows about it! If you have the opportunity, go beyond just writing it down in your application and instead share a video or recording of your past speaking engagement. Do what it takes to impress the judges and give yourself the credibility you deserve. This is another way to set you apart from the competition.
3. Have a strong title and abstract
The process a conference committee has for selecting speakers is similar to the process attendees have when selecting which of the conference speaking sessions they would like to attend. Thus, compile your application as if this were your final title and abstract on the conference agenda the day of your session. Does it grab the audience’s attention? Does it use compelling words and phrases? Are you intrigued when you read it? It is important to take the time to put some thought and creativity into your title and abstract. Keep in mind that the title and abstract should be a description of what you are presenting. Sounds obvious, right? But many times, attendees say post-conference that they ended up attending a session that had nothing to do with the title or abstract. Don’t be that person! Why? People will remember this and avoid your session next time.
4. Know your audience
Finally, it is important to tailor the content to the audience that is attending the conference. You could have a super compelling title and abstract and be a dynamic speaker, but if your content does not speak to the people who are paying to be there, you will not be selected. So, always make sure to research the intended audience and tailor your content to them. It’s a good idea to run your submission by someone from that audience in order to make sure it fits.
I hope you found value in these four tips to help you knock your speaking submission out of the park! What better way to test out your newfound expertise than to apply to speak at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit!