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Become an NMX 2014 Speaker: How to Submit a Winning Proposal

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aaron hockley One of the most common questions I’m asked is this: “What do you think of this idea for an NMX session?”

The truth is, I can give you my opinion on your proposal to speak, but I don’t call the shots. So, I talk to NMX CEO Rick Calvert to find out exactly what he’s looking for when it comes to choosing NMX speakers. Here are some of his best tips:

1. Bring real educational information. Tell attendees something they have never heard before that will immediately improve their blog, podcast, video or business.

2. We really want three solid take aways from every session. So ask yourself, what will attendees think when they leave this room? Will they walk away saying I learned 3 great ideas in that session? You need to explain in your speaker proposal what those ideas are.

3. Keep your speaker proposal short and to the point. We just skip over session ideas that are a mile long with a thousand topics rolled into one. Your session needs to be about a single topic, so hone in on what you know best.

4. Keep your bio short and to the point too. If you have a super impressive bio, like you have written 20 books, appeared on every news network, every newspaper, every magazine, spoken at every social media conference and worked for every fortune 500 company on the planet, please summarize. Do not quote yourself and list every media appearance you have ever made.

5. Please do not submit 10 ideas. Pick one or at the very most two ideas that you think will be AMAZING!

6. Explain the idea, and the take aways of your session clearly. Imagine we are going to print your session description straight out of your submission. Make sure it reads the way you want to present yourself to the world.

7. Be amazing! Not just amazing to a room full of ludites who have never heard of twitter. You need to be amazing to a room full of peers, many of whom are just as smart or smarter than you. You need to ask yourself, “What is the one think I have learned that they may have overlooked and I can share with them?” If you can do that, attendees are going to love you, thank you, throw money at you, and want to be your friend.

8. NEVER EVER EVER EVER SELL YOUR PRODUCT. Do that and attendees will hate you, we will hate you, everyone will hate you. Sure we will all smile at you after your talk and say that was great, but I promise you you are going to get skewered in your speaker evaluations and everyone is going to be telling everyone else they know how all you did was shill your crappy product. Even if your product is great people are going to tell others that is sucks because they are so pissed off at you for stealing their valuable educational time. There’s a time and a place to sell. During your NMX session is not it.

We don’t have space on the schedule for every awesome speaker. Sometimes several people submit sessions about the same general idea. Sometimes, the same session was presented in the past and didn’t attract much interest. Sometimes we go with speakers who have been to NMX before because they’re proven successes with our audience. Sometimes we pass up on past speakers to make room for new faces.

So yes, there is an element of luck as well. But you definitely won’t be accepted if you don’t apply! The NMX 2014 speaker submission form has opened as of this morning, so now’s the time to apply!

Submit Your NMX 2014 Session Proposal Here >

UPDATE: The deadline for submitting your proposal is September 1, 2013. However, we do encourage you to submit your session proposal earlier, as we like to start announcing speakers as soon as possible.

10 Reasons You Should Start Thinking About Your NMX Speaking Proposal NOW

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NMX 2013 is a wrap, and even though it may seem like you have an entire year before you have to start thinking about the next show, if you have aspirations to speak, you really should start thinking about it today. And here’s why:

Reason #1: We open the proposal submission form as soon as we can.

Even though the next NMX is a long time off, we open the proposal form well before the event. So in actuality, it won’t be long before you can submit your ideas! And we make decisions early. Every year, tons of people wait until the last day to submit their proposals, but the fact of the matter is that the first round of speakers is often decided before the submission deadline. So if you apply early, you’ll have less competition.

Reason #2: Thinking about your proposed topic now helps you work toward that goal all year.

Right now, you are probably qualified to speak about several different topics. However, you’re more likely to be accepted as a speaker if you become a true expert in a single topic. When you speak at NMX, you aren’t speaking to a bunch of 101-level students or business owners who’ve never used Twitter before (at least in most cases). You’re speaking to people who live and breathe new media. If you spend the next several months really beefing up your knowledge and practical experience in the area that most interests you, you’ll be much more qualified to speak.

Reason #3: You’ll have time to review 2013 sessions.

Right now, our 2013 sessions are available at NMX University. If you become a premium member, you’ll have access to all of this content, and you can not only learn a thing or two (or three or a hundred…), but you can also get a feel for the type of sessions proposals we accept. It also means you can avoid submitting a topic that was covered in detail at the last event. Some topics lend themselves well to sessions year after year, but you’ll really wow us if you submit a really fresh idea that we haven’t heard before. In addition, when you check out these sessions, it is pretty apparent which ones were most successful and why – and that’s something you can keep in mind when submitting your proposal.

Reason #4: You have time to develop your session.

The very best sessions every year are those which have been well planned. Most public speakers will tell you that they aren’t just naturally better at speaking. They practice over and over and over. So thinking about your topic now allows you to work out the kinks by practicing at home in front of the mirror or even to smaller, local groups. That way, by the time NMX rolls around, you’ll be a much better speaker. And if you don’t get accepted? Don’t sweat it – you can always record a video for your blog or do a webinar, so the presentation won’t go to waste.

Reason #5: Good ideas take time.

Your first session idea probably isn’t the best idea you have in you. Coming up with good ideas takes time, and inspiration is something that can happen out of the blue. We want the very best at NMX, and by starting the brainstorming process now and keeping it in the back of your mind while waiting for the submission form to open, you can make sure that you’re proposing your very best ideas, not your very first ideas.

Reason #6: You can test ideas with small pieces of content.

Wondering if people will really be interested in your idea? Test with a small piece of content: a blog post, a video, or a podcast. If people are going nuts for more, you have a great presentation idea that just needs to be developed beyond the kernel of information you gave away. If you hear crickets, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Reason #7: You’ll have time to expand and develop a product.

At NMX, we don’t allow informercial sessions. Selling from the stage is a big no-no, so we ask that all speakers only mention their own stuff when it is extremely relevant to the discussion. That said, the biggest benefit to NMX is the exposure. If you’re an NMX speaker, people will be looking you up, often on smart phones as you’re presenting, but also before and after the event. If you’re speaking about podcasting 101 and you happen to be selling a podcasting 101 training course on your site, you have the potential to make a lot of sales. So plan your session now, and then think about how you can turn this session into an expanded informational product to sell.

Reason #8: It gives you time to edit.

Writing a proposal early gives you time to ask your friends to review. We value good content above all else, but proofreading matters. If you’re anything like me, you’re horrible at picking out your own typos. When you wait until deadline to submit your proposal, you don’t have time to ask a friend to give it a once-over before you send it off.

Reason #9: You might see us at another event.

NMX staffers are constantly attending other events. If you’re waiting in a taxi line behind Rick or see Dave at a networking reception or notice another else from NMX, please say hello! We love to meet our community. And, if you have an idea in mind for a session, you can run it by us. You won’t get a yes or no on the spot (in most cases!), but you will get an honest opinion that can help you write the best proposal possible when the submission form opens.

Reason #10: You can use the time to become a bigger part of our community.

Again, content trumps all, but we’re always much happier to see names we recognize than people who pop up out of the blue. It means you’re really dedicated to this community and you’re less likely to flake, phone it in, or pitch your products from the stage. We like that. So join us on Facebook. Be part of the conversation on Twitter. Follow us on Pinterest and Google+ and LinkedIn – whichever social networks you like best. Engage and get to know the company and the individual staff members.

And of course, comment on our blog! 🙂 Today I want to know: what’s your biggest frustration or worry when applying to speak at NMX or other conferences? Weigh in now!

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