What You Need To Have a Successful Speaking Event

As you prepare for your speaking event, don’t forget these 10 things. You’ll be able to turn an unpaid speaking event into a way to make money.

Getting hired to speak at events or conferences is such an honor. It gives you more credibility in your field and opens the doors for helpful networking opportunities too.

It’s exciting and nerve-wracking, all at the same time. Whether it’s paid or not, there is still a lot of value you can get out of it.

 Woman with a speaking engagement taking to an audience 

Paid vs Non-Paid Speaking Events

When you agree to speak at a conference or event, should you only accept paid events? Or is there value in non-paid ones too?

While paid events are obviously going to be the better deal, non-paid speaking events have value too. You will be speaking in front of a group of people, listening to your every word. This is a priceless time to funnel them to your website and your products.

Before you go to your speaking event, there are some things you should always keep in mind.

10 Things To Remember Before Your Speaking Event

These 10 things are essential. They will help you get the most out of your speaking event, even if it’s not paid. These tips will also prepare you for an unforgettable experience—for both yourself and your audience.

#1 Set Up A Funnel

What actions are you hoping your audience takes? Do you have a book you are trying to sell? Are you trying to increase your email list? Are you trying to obtain more coaching clients?

These are all things you can achieve as a result of speaking at a conference. You only need to organize how you are going to direct them to take the action you want.

I personally like to do an exclusive offer that only people at the speaking event will be able to get. One example is a free checklist handout that you only get if you buy my book that day in-person. This incentivizes people to buy now instead of waiting until later to buy on Amazon.

#2 Capture Emails

You need to prepare a way to capture emails at the event. Emails are the most effective way to stay in touch with people that listened to your presentation and sell them your products. A few different ideas include:

  • Paper sign-up form
  • Collect business cards in a jar
  • Make a landing page with a specific URL where people can enter their email address to get a freebie. This can easily be done with ConvertKit (I highly recommend them – here’s why!) or LeadPages.
  • Text to opt-in – I use Textiful and love it! I had a 50-60% opt-in rate with it.

#3 Print Fill-In-The-Blank Handouts

I discovered that fill-in-the-blank handouts keep attendees’ attention the best. It also increases interaction because people don’t get lost in your presentation. They are able to follow along so much easier.

When you print the handouts, use your branding on them – your colors and your logo. Print your hashtag and social media handles on it too so that when people go home, they can find you again.

#4 Record Your Presentation

Event organizers don’t always provide a way for speakers to record their presentations, so you should do this yourself.

Recording your presentation allows you to set it up on your blog/website so that users can access it after they subscribe to your email list. You can also use clips from it on future blog posts, podcasts, and Q&A sales copy.

You can easily do this by using the recorder app on your phones. You can also buy a separate high-quality digital recorder for presentations.

Once you have your mp3 recording, submit it to Rev.com to get a transcription. It’s really easy to use and can provide you with text to use in your blog posts without having to try and rack your brain to remember what was said.

With Rev, it takes 12 hours to get a transcription back if you choose for a human to do it, and about 5 minutes if you opt for an automated transcription. I’ve had success with both, but if you have lower audio quality, I’d recommend choosing the human transcriptionist. 

woman on a speaking engagement

#5 Dress Appropriately

How you dress speaks volumes about you and your brand, so take your outfit seriously. It’s always a good idea to dress in business casual and in a way that prevents any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

A nice pair of slacks, blouse, and a blazer are typical attire for speakers and presenters. Another thing to consider is dressing in a way that promotes your brand. Where your brand’s colors or wear your company’s logo on the pocket of your blazer. Let your clothes promote you while you talk.

#6 Hire an Assistant

I’ve hired an assistant to attend my speaking events, and I’m always happy I made the investment! He or she serves as my go-to notetaker for Q&A and action items. They also make sure everyone has a hand-out (or go make additional copies as needed), as well as take photos before/during/after my talk to use for social media. I also have them help with any set up before the event and tear down afterward. 

#7 Double Check Your Technology

The last thing you want is to spend all this time and energy promoting and preparing your event only to be upstaged by technological issues. To prevent this, I always confirm what the presentation room will have for technology (i.e. projector) and if it will support my Mac laptop. 

Additionally, I always bring my own HDMI adaptor with me, just in case I need it. I’ll also bring my own presentation clicker and a flash drive of my presentation just in case something happens and I need to use another laptop.

Because I sell a physical copy of my book when I speak, I’ll also bring a square reader so I can easily sell books at the back of the room after I speak.

#8 Promote Your Session Online

Before and after your event, be your own biggest cheerleader. The best way to spread the word about your talent as a public speaker is to start posting about it online. Ask your followers to share about it too.

You can use a social media scheduling tool such as MeetEdgar to set up your posts. What’s nice about a tool like this is you can fill up a queue and let posts run until an end date that you set. This way you aren’t promoting your event after it’s already over!

Then, don’t forget to capture the impressions and shares so you can record them. Keep track of these numbers and present them to future event organizers where you want to speak.

Hire a Photographer

I also recommend you hire a photographer, or ask someone in the audience that you know to take photos of you. I’ve hired a photographer to take photos of me before/during the speaking so I can promote them and share them with the event organizer.  It also happens to be a great way to showcase yourself as a speaker and help promote the organization after the fact. 

#9 Follow-Up With Audience Members

Of course, you want to follow-up online to the tweets and Facebook shares. You also need to remember to step off the stage and stick in the room and chat with people. Answer questions, hand out your business cards, and swap email addresses so you can stay in touch.

You never know who someone knows. These events are networking gold! They could lead to your next breakthrough.

This is also why it’s so important to set up a way to capture emails—I believe this so strongly that I wrote an entire post about why you need to invest in an email marketing tool. If they are handing you business cards, keep a pen on you so you can make a note about who they are, then follow-up via email when you get back to your computer.

I also like to connect with people via LinkedIn. Along with the connection request, I always add a personal note reminding them who I am by thanking them for coming to my talk. I have a few more LinkedIn tricks to share with you here too! 

#10 Ask For Referrals

Finally, prepare a way for people to share their positive thoughts on your session/speech. Word of mouth marketing will always be the most effective form of advertising.

This is why the custom hashtag is so important. Save the social media shares that speak positively about what people learned and publish them on your blog. If someone tells you how much they enjoyed what they learned, ask them if you can use their comment on your blog.

Remember, don’t forget about LinkedIn. Connect with people in your session on LinkedIn and ask them to write recommendations on your account.

woman speaking at a conference to an audience

How to Speak at a Virtual Conference

With the current pandemic, almost every single conference is moving to a virtual platform. If you have been asked to speak at a virtual conference, you’ll have some special considerations to take in. 

  1. Learn the platform. Zoom is a popular platform for online speaking. If you’ve never used it before, you’ll need to take the time to download it before the event starts and try using it a few times to make sure you understand the settings.
  2. Hire a virtual assistant for tech support. Not only can he or she help you navigate any technical issues during the call, but they can also mute people as needed and provide vital admin support such as notetaking.
  3. Get the audience involved. Tell people to enter questions into the Chat so you can address questions/feedback in order that you get them. To further increase engagement, you can ask everyone a question at the beginning or during the talk and tell them to enter their answer into chat. Then, you can read those outloud and recognize people to help with engagement.
  4. Record the talk. Almost every conference call platform offers a way to record the talk. For example, Zoom has a setting that you can select to record immediately whenever you start a new call, so you don’t accidentally forget. 
  5. Share the recording. If you plan to share the recording with attendees afterward, determine what platform you’re going to share it from. Some good options include Teachable or YouTube.
  6. Turn off notifications.  Be sure to close out open browsers, put your phone on ‘do not disturb,’ and turn off your email notifications. You don’t want notifications or messages to pop up on your screen during your talk and recording. 
  7. Check your lighting. You want to make sure that the audience can easily see you, and the right lighting can make a huge difference. Depending on the lighting in your office and time of day for your virtual presentation, you may  want to invest in a light ring.  

Speaking Event Tips Final Thoughts

After your first speaking event, your entire career is going to change. You’ll meet amazing people and make some fantastic connections. Take the opportunities that fit your brand and continue to make more connections.

Your business will grow with every connection that you make. Speaking events don’t have to be paid to be valuable. You can earn money through email subscribers and product sales. You might also meet people at your session that are looking to hire speakers, so talk to everyone you can.

Related Posts

If the reasons above haven’t convinced you, I highly suggest you read this post The Business Presentation: A Surprising Secret to Accelerate Your Success. You’ll learn why I think a signature presentation is a must-have for every thriving business. Here are some other posts I think you’d enjoy:

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