Get Picked to Speak book giveaway
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.

Get Picked to Speak book coverIn the book, Aurora and David share their wisdom, collected from having written scores of successful speaker submissions for conferences around the world.

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:

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!


  1. Elizabeth Hagen on June 28, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you for telling us about this book, Lori! You asked what we most want to know about getting picked and mine would be finding the right groups for my topic.

  2. Myra quick on June 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Interested most in finding speaking opportunities.

  3. Shabazzz Boukary-Martinson on June 28, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I love your website. Really valuable content. I am working really hard to find speaking engagements for my dad/client. He is a Professor in African and African American History. How best can I find engagements from professional and civil organizations like the U.N., African Union, and other professional organizations?

  4. Randy Williams on June 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    I’d like to know what planners are looking for, what separates one speaker from another, and how in the workd the ‘little guy’ can get a foot in the door.

    Thanks & God bless you for what you do!


  5. Andrea on June 28, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    What I want to know most about getting picked to speak, is how to find the right speaking gigs for me.

  6. Carl on June 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Lori, a couple months ago I sat in on a webinar in which Aurora was a guest presenter. Taking her advice, I drafted a proposal which was selected among only 25% of the proposals submitted. Her insights definitely helped me win over the selection committee so I am very much looking forward to reading her book. I’ve been a successful trainer for years but hope Getting Picked will shed even greater insights on how to land more high-profile platform and keynote opportunities at conferences.

  7. Julie Carr on June 29, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Hey Lori,
    Soooo glad I found you and your awesome blog ???? I’m an up and coming speaker and your tips/tools have been super, duper helpful.
    I’d love to win a free copy of he book. What I need help with is figuring out the whole process of getting the gigs. I’m a really great speaker (confident there:), I know my area of expertise, and I’m an author. I just need help figuring out where to start the whole process.

  8. Lisa Rehurek on June 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Great blog post! Very simply and practical yet powerful. I particularly love Step 2: “you’ll want to paint a compelling picture of how you addressed these problems and implemented solutions that delivered noteworthy results”. Seems most of us tend to go into solution mode, talking about what we can do for them. I love the idea of SHOWING them what our solution can do for them based on a success we have helped to implement. That’s so much more powerful. Thank you for a great article!

  9. Shayla on June 30, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Out-of-the-park review! I found this book to be so incredibly helpful, and it was an honor working with Aurora and David. They are so passionate about helping people take the stage. I can’t recommend this book enough!

  10. Jon J. Cardwell on July 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve been enjoying your articles for some time now; however, this is my first posted comment. Sorry about that, but thee’s no time like the present, right?

    You’ve posted great things to think about when it comes to public speaking.

    I appreciate the insights you’ve offered on public speaking and it got me to thinking of the various approaches to the different kinds of speaking that I take part in personally. They’re not the same. Lectures, presentation, preaching, roasting, addresses, interview, etc., have different audiences, different goals and have differing structures according to factors that can vary with details as seemingly minor as time and location.

    Thanks again for your blog.

  11. Roshanda on July 4, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Great post. I really want to know how to find speaking engagements. So far, many have come from people seeking me out.

  12. Mark Elswick on July 15, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Good stuff. Cant wait to read more.

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