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How to Make Sure Your Speaker Application Doesn’t Suck: Part 2

Earlier this week I kicked things off with a couple process-related tips for thought leaders and public relations professionals to consider when preparing a conference speaker application or pitch. (Click here to read Part 1). Let's dig into the content with tips #3, #4, and #5.

3. Give your ego a rest and put in some effort. The fastest way to get your speaker application denied is to write something like “I am a cannabis expert with 10 years of experience and can speak on any topic.” How does that help the event organizers? It doesn’t. Hire a PR firm or marketing team to help you craft a pitch – or multiple pitches – that clearly defines your goals for the session (or sessions) and, importantly, very clearly defines key takeaways for the audience. Being specific can also help your chances of being selected for multiple sessions or invited to participate on a panel.

Remember also that speaker applications are not requests for autobiographies. Use the application as your chance to really market yourself and the value your knowledge would bring to the event, rather than listing out everything you’ve done since high school and every committee you served on at work. Provide biographical information relevant to the event and your pitch, and answer the application questions directly, honestly, and succinctly with the goal of clearly answering the organizers’ main question: “What benefit will attendees get from attending this session?”

4. Have something fresh and interesting to say! If you’re submitting the same application details show after show, and year after year, you’ve got some work to do. Particularly in the more mature regulated cannabis markets, the content must be fresh and forward-looking, and less about history or how things used to be. Use data and history as a reference point, but make it relevant to something happening now or happening next.

Just because you had a great turnout and did a wonderful job presenting at last year’s event doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for next year’s event. Think about the states that have legalized since last time, or new products or newsworthy stories that came out since then, and structure your speaker application to demonstrate that this isn’t the same presentation as last year. Remember, event organizers have an obligation to our ticketholders and sponsors to present fresh, new information that attendees might not get elsewhere. Show your value in the speaker application by spelling out why this is such an important and timely topic for the event’s participants. Sell it!

5. Maximize your ROI. Ah, my favorite part! Booking a speaking gig at a convention is something to celebrate: You’re going to be on stage with an audience of eager learners looking to you as a thought leader and trustworthy resource! This is a high-value opportunity to do some branding and business development or otherwise engage the audience, so plan more than just a pretty PowerPoint. Get involved early -- and generate interest in your session -- by sharing event social media graphics. Whether attending or not, your followers will see that you were recognized for your expertise and selected to be a part of an important event.

And to help maximize your ROI on event day, make clear to the audience how they can reach you after the session. Of course, follow any guidelines or requests from the event organizers relating to marketing materials and handouts: Don’t be that guy who wastes money printing handouts and creates a mess for event staff by putting them on all the chairs. If you did your job and presented well, and communicated why and how folks can follow up with you, the right people in the audience will know what to do next -- and you'll maximize your ROI as a speaker.


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