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What BlogWorld Looks for in a Speaker Proposal

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Deb’s note: This is part one in a series about crafting a good speaker proposal.

Via Twitter, I noted the disappoitment in many bloggers and social media people (including me) when speaker proposals weren’t chosen for BlogWorld or SXSW. So I took it to the source. I reached out to the conference organizers who choose speakers for the various events including SXSW, IZEAFest, Web 2.0, and others to learn what they look for when choosing speaker proposals.

Today, Rick Calvert, the man behind the BlogWorld and New Media Expo, offers some insight into what the BlogWorld team looks for in a speaker proposal. .

Here are Rick’s tips:

“We look for several things in a speaker proposal. First is great relevant content for our attendees. We want our speakers to deliver information that people can really learn from and act on. Being original is a good thing but just being original for originality’s sake is not.”

In other words, thinking outside the box is always a good thing, but your idea has to appeal to enough people to fill a room. First, consider what attendees can learn from you, then consider whether or not attendees will really be interested in the subject matter.

BlogWorld is a blogging and social media event. Most attendees are there to advance their careers in these fields and to make a living as professional bloggers and/or social media people. Also, representatives from businesses attend BlogWorld to learn how to build community trust in the brand and create a web presence. How can you help? What is your expertise and how can you pass this on to others?

“We are looking for speakers who can deliver that content in an engaging way. If you have great content but attendees are falling asleep during your presentation then no one really benefits.”

Mumblers and monotones need not apply. Are you a confident speaker? It has to show through in your proposal, and, later, through your talk. There’s a reason conference organizers ask for the comment forms at the end of each session – speak with those forms in mind. You’re not at BlogWorld to pontificate. Attendees want to be engaged. They want to feel inspired and you want them to feel as if they’re ready to take action immediately upon exiting your talk.

“Then we want speakers who are going to put butts in the seats. They can do that several ways; great content attracts people. Well known speakers with a good reputation attract people.

Certain big names are a shoo-in at the various conferences because people attend specifically to hear them speak. Attendees know they will learn and receive value from this talk. However, you don’t need to be Chris Brogan to have an accepted proposal. Create awesome content, the kind that will pack a room and have them listening from the hallways.

“Finally where lots of speakers fall down is they don’t promote their appearance.Speaking at a conference is a huge opportunity to build your reputation and your business by giving your peers something they can really use. If no one knows you are there, then you just blew that opportunity and you are probably not going to be asked back or get a good recommendation from that organizer. Conference organizers certainly have a responsibility to promote their speakers but they have an entire event to represent. No one is going to promote your appearance as well as you can. Unfortunately at least 70% of speakers completely fail here.

Get on the horn, speakers. Rock your Facebook events and tell your Twitter followers. Announce your appearance in your regular newsletter and post it on your blog. The folks who follow you around the blogosphere may even follow you to BlogWorld.

“One more important thing to add is what we are not looking for and that’s people who are trying to sell something. If you pitch us a talk about how great your company or product is, then expect to get a “dear potential speaker” letter from us. People are always trying to get creative and trick us in to thinking that their sales pitch will be different, or that it really isn’t a pitch.

“No one wants to hear about your product from the stage. That’s what booths are for.”

Amen to that last part.

So here are your key takeaways:

  • BlogWorld will be open for speaker proposals at the end of February. There’s plenty of time for you to digest this information, take your time and write a propopsal that makes sense
  • Craft a unique proposal but not so unique no one will want to attend.
  • Don’t set up a proposal only to sell your crap.
  • BlogWorld wants speakers who can fill a room and justify a ticket to Vegas.

Are you up for the challenge?

If anyone else on the BlogWorld team would like to weigh in, I’ll be happy to add your comments as well. In the mean time, potential speakers, get busy. BlogWorld will begin accepting speaker proposals in a little over one month.


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  • Taryn Pisaneschi (

    This was an AWESOME post. It hits the nail right on the head and demonstrates that you don’t have to be a big name to get selected. It was just what I needed to hear this afternoon. Thanks! 🙂

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