Thursday, March 17, 2016

Smart self-promotion: 6 must-haves on your speaker page

Forget "shameless self-promotion." What's smart self-promotion for a public speaker?

Whether you create a speaker page on your own website or blog, or on another platform, it's helpful to have a place you can point people to when they inquire about you as a speaker--or when you are pitching a proposal for a talk.

Showing organizers and committees that you are an available, experienced, and interested speaker will make all the difference in your ability to get more and better speaking gigs. Here are my priorities for your speaker page:
  1. Video of yourself speaking before a live audience: I don't care whether this is video from your friend's iPhone, or professionally shot video, but such a video (or several) should be prominently featured. This is the single most-sought-after item on the list of conference organizers, since it's an easy way to see how you deliver a talk. Organizers love known quantities, but if they don't know you, video's the next best thing. Again, they're interested in you, not the quality of the production, so don't let amateur video hold you back. However, do not, as one speaker I know did, hire an audience to look uniformly enthralled with your talk on the video--we can tell fake from real audiences. If you've given a TED or TEDMED or TEDx talk, that video is pure gold for your speaker page. Don't have any such video? Get a friend to record you giving a talk, then add a video with a live audience once you have it.
  2. Photos of you, both portraits and in action on stage: Right behind video come photos. Share an appealing portrait photo, and get photos of yourself on stage. Again, sometimes your conferences will handle this for you, and your job will be to get permission and credit the photographer on your page. But if not, put your friends into action. Always ask after a gig whether the organizers had photos taken, and whether you can use and share them.
  3. A biography, focused on your speaking and your expertise: Take the best version of your biography, emphasizing the full range of your expertise, and edit it to include your speaker characteristics. Are you experienced at keynotes? Workshops? Lectures? Adept at audience interaction and Q&A? Comfortable on stage and in a variety of formats? A TED speaker, or a speaker who's taken the stage in impressive halls and venues? Share enough detail that an organizer can get a sense of what you have done and what you like to do as a speaker. One paragraph about yourself as a speaker will do wonders to your existing bio. 
  4. An up-to-date list of your speaking engagements: This will be easier if you update it promptly. Include the location, date, sponsoring event or organization, title of your talk, and any other important details: Were you the keynote? A featured speaker? Include links to the conference or event page that lists you.
  5. Make sure your list of speaking gigs includes social buzz: For many conferences, demonstrating that you bring an audience with you--whether online or in the room--helps tip the balance when selecting speakers. How did the audience react? Put the evidence on this page, and link to announcements about your talk, transcripts and video, photos, Storify summaries of tweets during your talk, and other social media commentary. The social-media links aren't to give you a Kardashian-style buzz. Sharing audience commentary--which, these days, is most often shared on social media--offers organizers another independent source of information about you as a speaker.
  6. Text, transcripts, blog posts, slides, or talk notes: Read Why and how you should publish your speeches, then make sure your speaker page has links to your published text, transcripts, and any blog posts, slides, or talk notes you've published related to each speech. With slides, don't forget that you can post them on SlideShare, LinkedIn, and Pinterest...but always make it easy for organizers and embed them right on your speaker page.
Finally, your speaker page is only as good as your updating skills. Keep this info current!

(Creative Commons licensed photo by TEDxTaipei)

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