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How to Make Sure Your Speaker Application Doesn’t Suck: Part 1

For more than seven years I’ve planned the educational programming for cannabis events ranging from small networking receptions to the largest B2B cannabis convention series in the world. When it comes to speaker applications, I’ve seen it all: Everything from the comically pompous and lazy “I am a cannabis expert and can talk on any subject” pitches, to threatening and shamefully egotistical comments like “your event will fail without me” when interested speakers missed deadlines or were not selected to present at an event.

With more than 1,000 speaker sessions and events under my belt, and in the spirit of holiday giving, I wanted to share five tips to help current and aspiring thought leaders make sure their speaker application isn’t thrown in the digital trash can in 2023.

1. Pay attention to deadlines. Event production involves the ideation, organization, and management of a million to-dos and deadlines with the venue, vendors, sponsors, website, event staff, security, union workers, furniture, audio-visual, ticketing, and marketing to make the event a positive and safe experience for all involved.

Unless you’re someone like Barack Obama or Trey Anastasio, mailing the organizers after deadline puts you on the fast lane to a declined proposal. When a speaker application deadline is posted, follow it.

2. Respect the process. Every conference is different, which means that every speaker application will have different submission requirements. Whether pitching yourself or working with a PR firm, take the time to carefully review the speaker application well before the deadline. This will help you plan and frame your pitch, and make sure you have all the information and files ready to go for a complete application submitted on time.

And don’t think that your pitch is so amazing and compelling that you are entitled to circumvent the published application form and requirements by sending the organizers an email with your idea. Respect the process and take 10 minutes to submit that application. If it’s good, we will see it. If you’re annoying and selfish at application, that’s a red flag that you’ll be difficult leading up to and at the event. No thanks.

UPDATED: Click here for Part 2 for more tips to help you plan the actual application content (including your bio and key takeaways), and to maximize your return on investment as a conference speaker.


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