After three years of running events in Dublin, I’ve become a little bit more confident in the ins and outs of what makes a successful event. We still have a lot of work to do in a number of areas to ever put ourselves on the global conference map, but I’m thankful for the success we’ve had to date with 8 events, 33 international speakers, and over 2,000 attendees. It’s warming to see the same faces make it back time and time again to each event and speak so highly of us during and after each one. It helps to make the long hours and stressful moments all the more worth it.
One thing that has remained consistent since the beginning is that we tend not to accept speaker applications for our events. We have hand-picked all of our speakers to-date which in most cases has worked really well for us – but going forward we will be a little bit more flexible with this. While we won’t be putting a page live to accept speaking invitations, we will be more open to accepting applications by email for speaking slots at our events.
So, what do we look for in a speaker?
- Speaking Experience: You generally need to have existing speaking experience at other events. If you’re just starting out, we may consider you if you can demonstrate your ability to speak to an audience on video e.g. recorded webinar.
- Thought Leader: Are you developing your name as an expert in your field? If you’re an SEO expert, do you write for publications such as Search Engine Land, Moz, Search Engine Journal etc.? Building a personal brand will help make you more attractive to event organisers like us as it makes it easier to promote you as a great speaker.
- Personality: We tend to invite speakers who we think will connect with our audience and the other speakers on our panel. Knowledge and experience are important, but so too is the ability to come across as warm and engaging. If you’re the type of speaker who rants on a stage and offers no actionable advice, we will turn you down. It’s also important to us that we build and maintain a relationship with all of our speakers so that we’re not just a random event on your schedule that needs to be ticked off. We will turn down a speaker on personality alone if we feel you’re not a match for our values.
- Original Content: I realise that sometimes the same tools and tactics are repeated by multiple speakers at events, but we’re looking for people who will give a fresh perspective based on their own research and findings. Are you repeating something said by another speaker or conducting your own tests to feed back into your talks? Original research will always resonate best with our audience, and your talks must contain actionable advice.
- Sponsorship: We will not give a speaking slot to a sponsor. While we appreciate the offer of sponsorship support for our events, it will never help you land a place on our stage as we value the time our audience set aside to attend our events. We generally don’t make a profit from our events as we will put the quality of our speaking lineups before everything else.
- Gender Equality: We never start speaker selection conversations with who is the “best man at ‘x’’ or “best woman at ‘y’ since the quality of the talk remains the priority concern, but we will turn down certain speakers for an event if there isn’t gender balance on our panel. Sometimes speakers on our radar will be postponed to a future event in order to maintain gender equality.
- Research: It helps if you know a little about our events before getting in touch. Why do you want to speak at our events? While we don’t need you to tell us we’re great, it helps if you know the format of our events, have checked out videos of previous talks and know when and where they may be taking place.
We will also turn down speakers for making sexist remarks at other events, bullying attendees, speakers or the organisers. The industry is relatively small and event organisers do communicate with each other regularly. Don’t be a numpty or you will build the kind of reputation that will follow you for the rest of your speaking career.
The speaking panel for our 2017 is now finalised, but if you’d like to speak at one of our 2018 emails then get in touch with me: mark(at)learninbound(dot)com.