It’s been a few years since events were in full swing, but 2023 promises to be stronger in the conference space than we have seen in recent times. Between user conferences, leadership forums and technology shows, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to be present; however, speaking slots are the most organic way for companies to flex their knowledge and boost their SMEs’ profiles. In recent years, we’ve seen that coveted speaking slots have become more competitive, especially at the larger conferences (think RSA and HIMSS). Here are considerations companies should keep in mind to secure their speaking slots.
Plan Ahead and Do Your Research
Before you even get started drafting an abstract, researching conferences and planning (way) ahead will allow you to be more efficient with your time. From my experience, putting in this legwork in advance will prevent last-minute scrambling when submitting events ad hoc and close to deadlines. And you can avoid the potential for the late-night, down-to-the-wire submission. I recommend working on speaking matrices throughout the year and updating them quarterly to stay organized with all relevant information (audience type/size, speaking tracks, location, event contact details, etc.) in real time. Additionally, having approved topics and discussions with SMEs ahead of time will streamline and expedite the process and allow you to put forward the best submission possible.
Consider Adding Partners to Your Session
In a recent blog on award submissions, I discussed the importance of third-party validation from partners, and the same is true for speaking submissions. Much like contributed content for the media, speaking abstracts are typically stronger with outside perspectives. Partners to consider can be investors, customers, industry leaders, and others. Teaming up for a panel can help your submission stand out in a few ways. You can demonstrate how real challenges were overcome, whether it’s in terms of starting a business, helping customers deal with pain points or getting funding. Additionally, offering a panel or joint presentation with another company or industry influencer could bring more name recognition to your presentation and make it more appealing to judges. Planning ahead is also beneficial when working with partners, as it allows you to have events, topics and spokespeople approved ahead of time so all you need is a quick reminder that you are submitting as deadlines approach. And it shows that you respect their time. Aggressive planning can give your team enough time to find an alternative partner if needed.
Highlight the Challenges
As a B2B tech company, it may feel more natural to offer up the solution before addressing challenges — after all, people are usually looking for ways to solve their problems. However, it can be beneficial to take a beat and “bask in the pain.” Conference organizers typically look for people who understand the greater challenges that plague their attendees before looking at the solutions themselves. Acknowledging the problems upfront in the abstract and how they have impacted your SME or organization will likely be more appealing to the people selecting sessions. Also, including data to back up the challenges you describe can validate just how serious the problem is. Showing the audience that your thought leaders can sympathize with the pain points they experience will position them as trusted authorities.
Be Bold and Go Beyond the Buzzwords
Whether it’s the CEO, CTO, developers or a research team, speakers must have something insightful and original to say. Oftentimes, it isn’t enough to pick a hot topic just for the buzz. Think about value-add and what unique insights only your SME can provide. It could be proprietary research, an early-stage trend, a new product or their interesting entrepreneurial journey. Having a strong contradictory opinion on topics can also make your submission stand out. A hot take on a trending topic or an industry issue could be intriguing to conference attendees, who want to hear how you defend your statement. The bolder and less generic you are, the more you will stand out and the more your abstract will appeal to the organizers.
When putting together a speaking submission for conferences, consider these tips to help your speaker abstract stand out. Contact the Look Left team to see how we can help you with your conference and speaking strategy to help your team meet your events goals.