Want to speak at more events? Consider these 6 tips from a speaker and conference veteran

by Jason Keath on Aug 17, 2015
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I have spoken at dozens of events around the world. I’ve also planned dozens of events.

I work on both sides of this industry and I want to help you speak at more conferences.

Every year, with each event we do (this will be our 17th), we see an amazing response from the Social Fresh Conference community. People ask about attending/speaking/partnering etc. It’s awesome and I’m grateful.

We love this energy. We love this support. We love the passion of the Social Fresh Conference community.

First, I want to provide more information about what Social Fresh looks for in a potential speaker.

Let’s specifically break down details of how Social Fresh invites speakers and then look at some general speaker booking advice that can help you get on the stage at any event.

1. Algorithm

How do we decide who speaks at each conference? There is more to this than I could explain in one blog post, but here’s a quick overview.

These are the key things we consider:

  • Speaker experience/stage presence
  • Confidence
  • Unique opinion
  • Topic expertise
  • Brand name (and match for content themes)
  • Diversity (gender, race, industry, business size)
  • Recommendations
  • Cost
  • Misc. (each person is uniquely considered, so this is not an exhaustive list)

For every Social Fresh conference we form a content committee that reviews a large pool of potential speakers for these considerations and more.

2. No Nominations

As a policy, Social Fresh does not accept speaker nominations. This does not mean that you should never reach out to us.

It is more of a logistical challenge. We get hundreds of pitches each year and cannot review them all.

This basically means that we do not have an open call for speakers. We do not have a form for submitting yourself to the content committee. We prefer to engage with you in other ways.

Here are a few ways to get your name on the potential speaker list:

  • Speak at other industry conferences and polish your presentation style
  • Write unique thought pieces on industry blogs and develop your POV
  • Get involved in the Social Fresh community as a conference attendee, blog contributor, volunteer, conference affiliate, etc. (these are some of the best ways to get on our radar)

3. We Research A Lot

We research other conferences online and in person. We attend events with an eye on speakers we are impressed by. We ask past Social Fresh speakers who they think is a rising star or a great speaker that we have not featured yet. We listen to podcasts and consider our own Social Toolkit podcast guests.

4. We Look For Big Brand Names

Attendees come to Social Fresh to hear from recognizable brands doing innovative things. Attendees need case studies and stories to bring back to their team. They need to be able to share these new learnings from a brand their boss will recognize. If you ran a great campaign for Whole Foods or HBO or Tesla, you have the case studies attendees want.

Likewise if you have a strong personal brand, like Jay Baer, Scott Monty, Sarah Evans, or Brian Clark you have the experience and expertise attendees benefit from.

This is not the only deciding factor by any means, but it is an important piece of the puzzle. Attendees look for brand names. And Social Fresh is a business. So we have to consider these things.

We also include topic experts, agency/vendor speakers, and small to medium brand representatives.


Ok, so that is a really transparent and high level look at our speaker intake process.

Now, this is what you should be doing to work the system for Social Fresh, and other conferences, to give yourself a better chance of getting on stage.

You don’t HAVE to do these things. But if you really want to increase your chances, and you believe in your ability to hustle to the top, then read on.

1. Have A Personal Blog and Speaker Page

You don’t have to blog every week or every month. But you need a professional website that has information about you and links to your content around the web.

Have a specific page on your blog that is your “speaking page” for pitching yourself as a speaker. That page should have a video of you speaking on stage. It should list your speaking experience, what topics you cover, testimonials, and photos of you at events.

2. Have A Speaker Video or Reel

This does not have to be a highly produced reel of you speaking at 10 conferences. It should be a video excerpt of you speaking from at least one conference, on stage, about a relevant topic.

The video quality should be good, not shaky. The audio should be good. And it should give conference organizers a good idea of your stage presence.

90% of people that pitch Social Fresh to speak do not have this. So just think about the advantage it will give you.

3. Sell Yourself to Conferences

If you can demonstrate how your brand, audience, or topic will help generate ticket sales, you increase your chances of getting on stage.

Some conferences are looking for very specific topics to be covered. Many corporations want someone with an exciting or inspiring stage presence. Other events want to hear about the future — predictions, thought leadership, etc.

Consider what the decision makers are looking for, what’s trending, and review last year’s content line-up to better understand how you can help.

4. Attend and Promote The Conference You Are Targeting

If you attend Social Fresh, if you write for our blog, if you tweet us and promote our content and our events, we will notice.

If you ask how you can help, we will notice.

Again, you do not HAVE to do this. But volunteering your time, your support, and getting to know the decision makers is one of the biggest things you can do, long-term, to get a leg up for any conference or event (or anything really).

This might sound self serving, but it is the truth. And I genuinely believe it will help you.

Relationships matter.

I still do this for my peers and fellow conference planners – whether it’s jumping in, at the very last minute, to present on stage or helping to promote an upcoming event.

“It takes a village” really applies to conferences, I think.

5. Have Something To Say

This has gotten me the most speaking requests.

I’ve written hundreds of articles about social media.

Conference organizers will commonly ask me to speak because I wrote a certain article. Years ago, I spoke at Internet Hungry because I wrote about Foursquare.

Writing a book is a great way to show people what you have to say. Have a unique opinion and put it out there.

A quality blog post can help get the attention of an event organizer, as well. I read way more blog posts than I do books.

Write about what you want to speak about. Make it unique. And put it out there in a lot of places.

6. Let People Know You Want to Speak

Ahhh, here we are. Full circle.

If you have done 1 through 4. You have a blog, a video, you are going to conferences and supporting conferences, and getting to know the organizers. Then you are ready to put the word out.

Email your friends. Share your speaking page. Let people know what type of speaking you want to do. Let them know what topics you want to speak on and have a (unique) POV.

Email conferences. Link them to your speaker page, your video, your signature blog posts.

You can even advertise your speaker video to conference organizers on social networks.

You will not get what you do not ask for.

Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...