Warning: I’m going hard on a book recommendation here. Seriously, if you have an itch to spread your message, market your practice or be seen as a leader and expert, you need to speak at conferences. It’s the shortcut to becoming famous in your field.
But speaking at conferences can be a different animal from other kinds of public speaking. For one thing, there’s a process. And for some potential speakers, the process feels daunting.
(What the heck is an abstract? How do I create learning objectives? And how can I deliver my message in a way that builds my business and gets me invited back?)
Friends, I’ve got your lifeline.
It’s a brand new book, Get Picked: Tips, Tricks and Tools for Creating an Irresistible Speaker Proposal by Aurora Gregory and David Pitlik.
Chief Marketing Officer of J.P. Morgan’s Treasury Services, Eileen Zicchino credits the Get Picked authors with securing coveted slots for J.P. Morgan’s subject matter experts.
And I agree 100% with her statement: “Crafting a proposal that secures a speaking slot is both art and science.”
Here are a few of the strategies and tactics you’ll find in Get Picked:
- How to find conferences to pitch your expertise
- How to make your idea a “hot topic”
- What makes a great presentation title
- How to use story-telling to sell your presentation idea
- Making the most of the limited word counts most call-for-speakers allow
- Ensuring your presentation deck works for you and not against you
Their material on how to structure your speaker submission alone is worth the two hours you’ll spend devouring the entire book.
[A little straight talk here, ’cause we’ve all noticed the trend. But let me assure you that this is not one of those books with an interesting concept that could be thoroughly explored in 20-30 pages, but instead is stated, restated and fluffed and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to eek out the 200+ pages that seem to be required for every New York Times Bestseller hopeful. Get Picked gets right to the point.]
Best of all, you can use this speaker submission framework for everything from formal conference submissions and informal pitches to event organizers to the topic descriptions on your website. With this formula, your conference speaking game is going to be so next level. Enjoy!
3 Simple Steps to Construct Your Session Story (excerpted from Get Picked)
Applying some basic storytelling principles can help you lay out the session description in a way that grabs attention, creates drama, and hopefully makes it irresistible to the committee or task force who will be making the conference speaker selections.
Step 1: In the beginning
Start by setting up the common challenges your potential session attendees face. These may include common headaches you share, things that keep you up at night, obstacles that you and your organization faced – all of which drove you to seek solutions.
Challenges can include everything from lack of know how, mindset issues, economic conditions, regulatory restrictions, process shortcomings, lack of technology, management hurdles, etc.
Be sure to keep your audience in mind when setting up the problem. The more they can relate to the situation you faced, the more likely they will want to hear how you addressed the problem. This sets the dramatic stage for the solution that follows.
Examples of setting up story drama:
“As baby boomers are rapidly aging-out of the workforce, human resource professionals are facing a tremendous brain drain in the senior ranks of their organizations, leading to increased pressure to cultivate the next generation of leaders.”
“With 25 percent of millennials putting off obtaining their driver’s licenses, the automotive marketplace is facing a potentially catastrophic loss of its future consumer base, leaving critical questions for the future of the industry.”
Step 2 – Building the yellow brick road
Now that you’ve briefly laid out the challenges, you’ll want to paint a compelling picture of how you addressed these problems and implemented solutions that delivered noteworthy results.
Stealing a little Wizard of Oz imagery, this is where you’ll describe how you built your yellow brick road to a successful outcome.
Once again, it’s important to keep your audience in mind as you lay out this part of your story. Think of it this way, if you could talk one-on-one with a peer who’s facing the same issue, what would you tell them? The middle of your story continues to build the drama by outlining the steps you have taken to overcome all of your challenges.
Some examples of these steps might include:
- How you developed a new process for reaching your goals
- How you worked with different departments to achieve success
- Or how you innovated a new way to use technology
This is your opportunity to describe your best practices and explain why they were so important for your organization or your clients. Here you just need to hit the high notes, so you can whet the selection committee’s and your audience’s appetite. Get this right and you’ll be the wizard behind the curtain!
Get Picked gives examples of how to frame the heart of your presentation proposal:
“The 21st Century classroom is all about engaging students using the tools they already know and use, which are primarily technology-based. In this presentation, we will explore the use of technology in the classroom and how to ensure quality teacher practice. We will discuss balancing accountability with innovation and how these tools can be used to stimulate effective learning.”
“No marketing tool today has the impact video has on audiences. In this session, attendees will learn about the latest trends in marketing with mobile video, and hear from practitioners on how mobile web and apps can drive engagement, increase conversions and build brands.”
Step 3 – The big payoff
Wrap up your session description with a brief explanation of what you achieved. This is the happy ending to your story – the part where you achieved your goal. It’s okay to toot your horn (a little bit.) Everyone loves a success story.
Things you might include as your ending could be:
- A new process that saved your company millions of dollars
- Your ability to cut the time it takes your staff to execute processes by half
- How you managed to grow your business by 200% in the first three years
One caveat: It’s vitally important to couch everything in your session in terms of what attendees will take away. A common mistake is to focus solely on your own accomplishments. It’s important to be crystal clear that attendees will come away with valuable insights that they can apply to their own life, organizations, classrooms, or workplace.
While it may seem like semantics, shifting the language from “here’s what we learned” or “here’s what I did” to “here’s what attendees will learn” can make a big difference in the eyes of the folks reviewing your submission. This simple trick can dramatically improve your odds of selection!
Now we’re at the big finish. Feel free to model one of these examples of how to wrap up your presentation:
“We will share how technology improvements have led to significant efficiency gains in managing the supply chain, saving the organization $1 million a year and dramatically improving the bottom-line.”
“Attendees will learn how this government agency was able to implement process improvements that ultimately reduced costs by 60%, drove tremendous staff efficiency, and freed up vital resources to focus on the critical task of supporting constituents.”
“We will reveal how this simple design concept has turned the lighting industry on its ear, and how game-changing innovation from a garage-based company has exploded into a $500 million-a-year business.”
Like what you’ve seen so far? Want more juicy tips? Buy Get Picked to Speak on Amazon today: http://amzn.to/28Y4ik7.
Super exciting bonus alert!
I’m giving away two copies of Get Picked to two lucky readers. (Yep, my first-ever giveaway.)
To be entered into the giveaway, just leave a comment below and tell me what you most want to know about getting picked to speak.<<
I’ve said it before, but never forget that you, my friend, are straight up swoon-worthy.
UPDATE: Huge congrats to the winners of Get Picked, Lisa R. and Randy W. Your books are on the way to you right now. Soon we’ll see YOUR names on those conference programs!