To offer value as a speaker at BlogWorld & New Media Expo, you don’t need to run a million dollar business or have 10,000 followers on Twitter or have written a bestselling book or any of those things. Those are nice, but not necessary. No, you need two things:
1. To have experience and knowledge that other people want to learn about.
2. To be able to communicate that knowledge clearly.
That’s all you need. Really. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have various measures of success – and we all have them in one way or another – but when it comes down to it, that is what it’s all about.
So, if I’ve convinced you of that, and speaking is something that you want to do more and more in the future, please allow me to offer some tips to help you be the best BlogWorld speaker that you can be.
This advice comes from my experience as a speaker, which includes participating in three panels in the last two years of BlogWorld. Last year, I led the “Social Media: The Bad and The Ugly” panel with Robert Scoble, Amber Naslund and Wayne Sutton.
Prepare for Your Session
“We’ll meet up for lunch on the day of our session” is NOT acceptable preparation. In fact, it’s completely unacceptable and disrespectful to BlogWorld, the organizers of the event, the attendees and everyone involved.
Everyone has bad days, not every session will be great. But, at the very least, prepare for it and put in that time. If you’re on a panel, and you’re leading that panel, stay on your panelists. Have deadlines for finalizing panel structure, notes, slides and whatever else that you need. If you have to write their notes for them, do it. Be ready to lead them. If you’re a panelist on someone else’s panel, and they haven’t communicated what to expect, ask them.
Meet the BlogWorld Deadlines
BlogWorld speakers have various deadlines by which certain materials are expected, such as a headshot, panel info, slides and the like. Read the documents that you are expected to read (such as the speaker’s agreement) and meet the deadlines. You’d be surprised by how many people fail at this.
But, you should always, always do this. Whether this is your first speaking engagement or you are booking $20,000 a gig. But, especially if you are new to this, meeting all deadlines is a very easy way to show the BlogWorld staff that you’re serious about speaking and that’ll pay dividends if you really want to do this speaking thing long term.
If you treat the conference with respect, you get respect back. Pretty simple. I expect team BlogWorld to treat me with a certain level of professionalism and respect. If I cannot do the same for them, then I have no right to expect it.
Speakers Are Vital to Success
Yeah, I come for the networking. Yeah, I love the networking. You’ll hear people tell you all day about how “the best stuff is in the hallways.”
It’s true to a certain extent, but don’t let it lull you to sleep. Speakers play a vital role in the success of BlogWorld. If the speakers stink, BlogWorld stinks and people don’t come back. They can network elsewhere.
You, as a speaker, play a vital role in the success of the event. So, act like it. Whenever you speak at an event, you should want it to succeed because then, everybody looks good. Being the speaker at an event that was widely criticized won’t help you get more engagements.
Promote Your Talk
You can also help the event become a success by promoting it through appropriate channels. You don’t have to go crazy. But, a blog post and some Twitter mentions of your talk will also help to make the event a success.
No conference organizer should ever feel entitlement to the audience of one of their speakers. But, on the flip side, organizers want people who will try to bring people to the event and if you show you can do that, you’ll be golden.
Simply being present is a good thing. And not just before, during and after your session. Attend the conference. Talk to people. Go to at least a few talks other than yours. Walk the trade show floor. It’s good for you to be seen, as a professional and as a speaker.
It’s good to support the event. I know the BlogWorld folks have to appreciate it when they see their speakers being a part of the greater event, outside of their own session. In fact, though it’s just my opinion, I’d say it means a lot to them.
Organizers want people who will enrich the event, not just show up, do their thing and leave. Unless you have to or you have already told the organizer that you must.
This Isn’t Charity
Let me wrap this up. This isn’t a charity. Yes, doing these things makes you a professional and a good person. And those things are very important to me.
But, by doing this, you are also setting yourself up for more opportunities down the road. It is a shrewd business decision to be the best that you can be. It is vital, especially as a speaker, because you need people who will book you and you gain those people by being someone they can turn to and trust to deliver value, to make them look good and to help their events become a success.
The first time I spoke was at South by Southwest Interactive in 2008. It is one of the most important social media conferences in the world, it was the first social media focused conference I’d ever attended and it was the first time I’ve ever been on stage in my life. Not exactly a small local event, it was right into the fire. Of course, I was nervous. I’m nervous now. But, I prepared and I did my best.
At the event, I met Rick Calvert, CEO and co-founder at BlogWorld. What were my second and third times ever on stage? Panels at BlogWorld 2008, 6 months later. “How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers and Sock Puppets” with Rick, Jeremy Schoemaker and John Chow, and “Avoiding Disaster: How Not to Use Social Media” with Darren Rowse, Jason Falls and Lee LeFever.
Since then, I’ve done 11 more presentations at 8 more events. I don’t consider myself a veteran speaker, yet, but I would like to think I am on my way.
It all starts with the first engagement. Maybe BlogWorld will be your first. Maybe not. But, whatever you do, don’t speak to speak. You have to want it and have to share something. If that describes you, consider my advice and then go for it.
Patrick O’Keefe is the owner of the iFroggy Network and the author of “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online communities. He blogs at ManagingCommunities.com.
Photo Credit: Buzzshift