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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Pitch Yourself (or Your CEO) as a Speaker

Last week, I gave you six ways to find awesome speaking opportunities in your industry. Now that you’ve tracked down the best events in your field, it’s time to get you—or your CEO—secured for the speaking slots they offer.

But with so many people vying for the spotlight, you might be wondering how to get your pitch to the top of the pile. The short answer? Make it more amazing than all the rest of them. Here’s how.

1. Find Your Sweet Spot

I like to think of your sweet spot as the place where your expertise and experience meets a really interesting, timely trend in your industry. For example, let’s say you’re a PR consultant, and you want to pitch yourself for PR Week’s Crisis Communications Conference. Pitching a session on “How to Handle a PR Crisis” is not going to get you to the top of that pile—it’s relevant, but not all that interesting or timely. And it doesn’t take into consideration your unique expertise and experience, since anyone with a PR background could likely lead that session.

But through your everyday work, you know that finding the best way to handle a PR crisis through social media is a hot topic. You even just helped a well-known brand through a particularly bad crisis, and found that Twitter was actually really effective at containing it. Your sweet spot pitch? “How Twitter Saved Applebee’s Reputation, and How it Can Save Yours.” Boom.

2. Get Specific

You’re a food blogger, and you want to pitch yourself for the biggest food blogging conference of the year. Here’s what’s not going to get you to the top of the pile:

  • Food Blogging 101
  • What Everyone Needs to Know About Food Blogging
  • How to Run a Food Blog

Beyond being boring and having been done a million times, these topics are way too general. Conference organizers are looking to get their audience of food bloggers psyched: The more interesting, intriguing, and granular you get, the better chance you have at sparking their interest.

Instead, think about pitching sessions like:

  • 5 Food Blogging Secrets You’ve Never Tried Before
  • How to Turn Your Food Blog Into a Profitable Business
  • 10 Things Every Food Blogger Needs in the Kitchen

3. Be a Human

When conference organizers are considering speakers for their events, the content is important, but the speaker is equally, if not more, so. Think about the people that you get excited to see: They’re probably energetic, inspiring, or compelling. Maybe they’re funny or soulful. But there’s something about them that you connect to—in the eyes of a conference organizer, the ability to connect with your audience is gold.

Which means: Be a human. Better yet, be your wonderful self. In your pitch and correspondence, let that personality of yours shine. You want them to get to know you—not some robot façade that you’ve turned on because you’re afraid of being anything but polite. Hint: To give event organizers an even better sense of you, tape a video of yourself delivering your pitch instead of writing it.

Now that you’ve crafted the greatest pitch of all time, one last tip for getting it to the top of the pile: Send it to a person. Or, ideally, several people. Many event organizations have forms that you can fill out to apply for speaking spots, and while you should do that to cover your bases, supplement it by connecting with someone directly. To track down the best person to reach out to, check out the “contact us” section of the event’s website and dig around on LinkedIn to see if there’s anyone relevant at the organization hosting the event. (Then, try these tips to find an email address.)

Photo of microphone courtesy of Shutterstock.