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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 Do not quote yourself and list every media appearance you have ever made.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!

Five Tips to Help You Land Your First Speaking Gig

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One of the speaker sessions at BWENY 2011

In just over two weeks, I’ll be speaking at Marywood University about using social media after graduation (in addition to blogging here, I also run a career advice blog at After Graduation). It’s officially my first paid speaking gig, and I couldn’t be more excited! Speaking gigs are a great way to both build your brand and make some money with your blog. So how did I land a speaking engagement and how can you do the same? Here are five tips you can use to start speaking about your niche:

1. Look outside conferences and other events.

Of course we love receiving your speaker applications here at BlogWorld and other events (SXSW, BlogHer, etc.) are also great for people hoping to speak. However, for every one open session organizers are trying to fill, there are dozens or even hundreds of speakers who apply. Instead, think about other places where groups of people gather and would be interested in what you have to teach. For example, I’m speaking to a college class. You could speak at high schools, churches or religious meetings, events outside the social media industry, women’s groups, businesses, and more.

2. Don’t wait for people to come to you.

You’re going to be sitting at home waiting by the phone for a long time if you’re waiting for people to approach you about speaking. Yes, it happens, especially if you have speaker page on your blog. If you’ve never been a speaker before, though, you have to go out and actively find opportunities to speak, not just wait for people to contact you. I was proactive about contacting Marywood’s professors to land my first gig.

3. Have an “in” where you’d like to speak.

When you’re unproven as a speaker, it helps to have an in wherever you want to speak. My sister is a student at Marywood and I’ve also had interns at this school, so it just made sense. The professor who is allowing me to speak to her class knows me, so even though I don’t have prior experience, she’s willing to give me a chance. I can use this opportunity to record my talk, which will help in getting future gigs, even when I don’t have an in. Who do you know? Maybe your best friend’s company would benefit from a short session with you. Maybe your mom is the president of a business organization that is looking for speakers at their monthly meetings. Maybe your spouse is part of an alumni group who would love to hear you speak.

4. Be relevant.

If you blog about real estate but are looking for a speak about how to use Twitter, there’s going to be a disconnect for event organizers. Now, you might be more than capable of speaking about Twitter, and you might even be the best person to talk about Twitter, but unless you have some social proof in this area, it’s going to be a difficult sell. For your first speaking gig, try to find an opportunity that is extremely relevant and closely related to your experiences. I run a blog about career advice for 20-somethings and work for a new media conference. I’m speaking about new media to a group of students. That isn’t a coincidence.

5. Lower your expectations a little.

Sure, we all want to be keynoters for events in our industry, but you need to work up to that. You probably aren’t going to get paid $10,000 and speak to a room of thousands of people your first time. You may have to volunteer as a speaker and you may have a very small audience. That’s okay. You’re building a speaking resume so you can get paid more and speak to larger groups next time. Dream big…but start small.

Have you spoken to groups before? Tell us about your first gig and leave some tips for people who’ve not yet landed any speaking gigs!

27 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Public Speaking

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Public Speaking

One of the ways you make money with a blog or podcast is to use this content as a jumping off point for public speaking. Serving as a speaker had two benefits:

  • Making money directly through paid speaking gigs
  • Raising your brand awareness so people visit your blog, buy your products, etc.

People general don’t just come out of the woodwork to offer you speaking gigs, though. So this edition of Brilliant Bloggers includes links to help you find speaking opportunities, as well as what to do if you are hired or accepted to speak. You can also check out this guest post from Barry Moltz – “How to Monetize the Content of Your Blog in Speaking Engagements” – right here on the BlogWorld blog.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

Be A Better Speaker: Go Commando by Jonathan Fields

If you’ve ever been to a presentation by Jonathan Fields, you probably would never guess that he still gets nervous before a speaking! His talk at BlogWorld is one of the best I’ve ever attended, and in this post, he talks about why that’s the case – he pays close attention to the audience and is able to quickly change things up on the fly to better connect. I think the mark of a true professional is being able to improvise, rather than relying on a script. Learning how to “go commando” can definitely help you improve as a speaker. Writes Jonathan,

So, what if your observation tells you you’re missing the mark? Here’s something to explore…Abandon the script.

Just the sound of that phrase terrifies most people. Off script?! Away from the planned, standard, tested, vetted bullet points, answers and slides I’ve prepared? No way! If the script is working and people are vibing with it, go ahead and roll with it.

But, if you’re bombing sticking to the script, why not at least give yourself the chance to recover, get back on track and give your audience what they need, rather than what you planned to deliver?

After checking out the post, make sure to follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanfields and check out his latest book, Uncertainty.

How to Get More Speaking Gigs: Write a One-Sheet by Jorgen Sundberg

No matter how poplar you become, there are always people out there who aren’t going to know your name (as was illustrated so clearly earlier this month when Leo Laporte was denied access to a tech event). When that happens, especially if your name doesn’t carry quite as much clout as Leo’s, it is super helpful to have a one-sheet ready to go. This tells people who you are, what you have done in the past, and why they should want you to speak at their event. In this post, Jorgen writes,

How do you pitch yourself and your speaking prowess to meetups, seminars and conferences? You obviously have to find out who does the bookings of speakers. The best way to convince this person to book you is by sending over a speaker one-sheet, basically a one pager outlining what you talk about and why they should book you.

Just like a resume is screened by an employer, the speaker sheet will be reviewed by the event planner and it needs to provide this person with enough compelling information to get you booked in.

In addition to blogging at Undercover Recruiter, Jorgen can also be found on Twitter @JorgenSundberg and is the founder and director of Link Humans.

3 Presentation Skills You Can Practice Any Time by Alex Cequea

You can find tons of awesome content for speakers at The Speaker Point, but this is one of my favorite posts. In my opinion, the best way to become a better speaker is to practice, especially if it’s a talk you’ve never given before. In this post, Alex goes over three great tips to help you write better speeches and present them in a better manner, so it’s definitely worth checking out, even if you’re an experienced public speaker. Best of all, you don’t need to be standing in front of an audience to practice these skills. From the post:

According to a recent study from the book Resonate, 86% of business executives agreed that improved presentation skills would directly impact their career and income level. The trouble is that only 25% of executives practice more than two hours for high-stakes presentations. The business world tends to downplay the importance of public speaking practice, and most think that natural talent is the only factor that separates the good presenters from the mediocre. Since you probably don’t have a willing public audience ready to watch you practice every day, here are some skills you can practice as you go about your day.

Like I said, the entire site is great for improving your speaking skills. After visiting this post and peaking around the rest of the site, you can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexCequea.

BONUS: Want to speak at BlogWorld someday? Then a podcast you definitely need to check out is this interview our community manager, Deb Ng, did with BlogcastFM’s Srinivas Rao (@skooloflife).

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Public Speaking? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link

Next Week’s Topic: Bounce Rates

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

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