So you’ve just been approached and asked to speak at an event.
I’m so happy for you! All those late nights writing blog posts, scheduling social media content and telling all your friends and family how much you know have finally paid off.
Now it’s time to present yourself in the best possible light on the day, here’s how:
- Research the event, other speakers and attendees.
You should know everything from the ticket price to the other speaker’s bios, to the event description.
What are the attendees expecting from the event? What is the demographic? Are the other speakers in your niche too or in other industries?
I’d also follow the other speakers (if there are any) on social media – this means you will already be familiar with their work before you meet them in person.
It’s also a good idea to see who is attending the event (if you can) – many online ticketing services allow people to share the fact they’ve bought tickets online on their social media accounts, you can find those posts by searching for the event name.
This way you’ll have a better idea of who you’re going to be talking to, and you can get them familiar with your work by RTing them if they’ve posted on Twitter.
They may follow you and if you have your latest work in a pinned tweet and your website in your Twitter bio – Bob, as they say, is your uncle.
Speaking to an audience where some of them are already familiar with your work will have you feeling like a popstar singing at a concert of dedicated fans.
If my mum was speaking on a panel she would definitely do a ‘dry run’ and actually visit the venue before the event – I just look it up on Citymapper so I know how to get there, and check it out on Google earth if I’ve never been before, but dry runs work too.
- Prepare your speech
Now that you have a good idea of the theme of the event and who you’ll be speaking to, prepare your speech, or the answers to the questions you’ll be asked, using the guidelines that were (hopefully) sent to you by the organisers.
Throwing a few jokes in there is always a good idea, but being yourself is the most important thing.
People have likely paid or taken some time out of their day to listen to you so make sure every sentence adds value – what would you want to know if you were in their position?
Usually people want to know how you got to where you are or what your views are on the next big thing in your industry.
Make sure you introduce yourself properly before you speak if you’re not being introduced, there’s NOTHING worse than listening to a panel of people whose names you didn’t quite catch.
- Get your social media presence and website in formation.
What happens when someone googles your name?
I know you sent your social media links and website URL to the event organiser, but what if the programme is printed and not available online?
That means that when the attendees go home with their scrumpled pieces of paper, all they have is your name to go by if they want to find out more about what you do.
Make sure Googling your name as it appears on the programme is enough to direct people to a place that will lead to them putting money in your pocket within five clicks.
CLICK ONE: clicking on your website which is the first result on Google under your name
CLICK TWO: clicking on an ‘About Me’ page
CLICK THREE: clicking on a prominent link in one of the paragraphs that goes to your blog consulting page
CLICK FOUR: clicking on your email address to send you an email to request your services
- Tell everyone about it.
Not sure if you got the memo but there’s no need to hide your light under a bushel anymore, it’s time to shine like the bright star God created you to be.
In the spirit of shining, post about your upcoming appearance on all the social media sites you have at least three times – including:
- A link to buy tickets
- The social media handles of the organiser/venue/PR company/sponsor etc (if there’s limited space tag them in the image instead of having their names in the text)
- The official promo image for the event
- The official hashtag of the event (double check with organisers if unsure)
- Some action packed or exciting language e.g. Join me at the… Hear me speak at the… Catch me at the… Thrilled to announce I’ll be…
Thrilled to announce I'll be speaking on this Goal Digger panel on Thursday! Tickets: https://t.co/lZLKYjSgLJ
— Phoebe Parke (@PhoebeParke) October 23, 2016
- Find an outfit.
Don’t look at me like that, this is an important step.
You need to be comfortable and confident, and look like you belong on a panel – people will be looking at you for at least an hour, let’s make that hour fun.
Your outfit should have some significance, be your go-to occasion piece, or fit with the event in some other way. So for my first speaking engagement I wore a purple dress that I reserved for interviews, graduations and the like.
It’s also a great look to reflect the event in some way, so if you’re speaking about sports you might wear a sports-luxe outfit or an African-inspired print if you’re speaking on Africa.
Sticking to your brand colours is another route to go down, I mean having the same colour across your outfit, business cards and website is a pretty awesome branding goal.
Also consider your surroundings (Google the room you’ll be speaking in) and the other panelists, I’ve always wanted to speak on a panel of men in suits and wear a bright printed dress, but that’s just me.
More than anything your outfit should reflect your brand, be appropriate to the event and be comfortable.
Here’s a Pinterest board to get you inspired.
Want to see me in action? I’ll be speaking at the Goal Digger power circle on October 27. Tickets are available here.
Want to run a blog like this one? Book an online blog consultation on my services page to get tailored advice for your site. .
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” -Proverbs 4:6