As the President and Founder of LIVE24 Communications, I specialize in creating and scaling programs to secure earned speaking opportunities at industry events.
I've been doing this for about 20 years, mainly working with tech brands, and placing speakers at all levels. My company has experience working across every sector there is, including the developer industry.
This is the only thing that we do, and because of that, we've built up some pretty good relationships around the world with the top event organizers.
I'm really excited about this because, for many, I think it's seen as a bit of a mystery. How do you get those earned speaking opportunities on agendas? I'm going to arm you with what you need to get started, and hopefully we're going to give you a pretty good framework.
What is an earned speaking opportunity? And why do it?
So, first things first; what is it and why do it?
When we talk about an earned speaking opportunity, we mean speaking opportunities that are proactively obtained outside of any paid or sponsorship commitment. This is outside of any sponsorship commitment, purely based on merit.
In the developer landscape, there are hundreds of events around the world every year, so speaking at these events is great awareness for your brand, your products, and your community, and it's also done in a very credible way.
It can also be very cost effective. Often, the cost for a program like this can be less investment than a single sponsorship at one major event. So, there's incredible value in doing it if it's done well.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a bottom-of-funnel tactic. This is a top-of-funnel tactic focused on awareness. It's important to keep that in the back of your mind.
Getting started: Defining your brief
Naturally, you're going to want to start with defining your brief. To do this, we use a very simple briefing questionnaire which asks some very simple questions like:
- Who's your target audience?
- Who is that you want to reach?
- What's your objective for getting out there and speaking at events?
- What's your target geography?
- What are the topics and themes that you want to get out there and speak about
It's important to have this as a foundation of your program because we're going to refer back to it a few times.
Three key elements to run a developer program
In addition to the brief, you need three fundamental things to start a program such as this.
You need a speaker pool, which can be one speaker, but ideally more. You need a target list of events, and you need content. And by that I mean talk abstracts, which is really no more than a title and maybe a 150-250 word outline of what it is that you're going to cover.
We're going to go into more detail about all of these three different areas throughout this talk. But once you have these three elements in place, you're at the jumping off point where you can actually get to proactive pitching and submitting to events. And then you're up and running.
And the point of time from when you define your brief up until you get those three things in place, we call that the ramp up phase.
So, let’s jump into the first of the three elements, which is sourcing speakers for your program and building that speaker pool.
The first thing you want to do is identify and evaluate the subject matter experts in your organization. And in doing so, you want to choose people whose expertise aligns well with thought leadership, because that's what we're ultimately trying to do.
You want to include people at different levels if possible. This’ll broaden the spectrum of events to allow more reach and awareness and also allow you to scale. It's great to have people at the highest level, but you want people at every single level so that your program can scale.
Diversity matters, not just because it's the right thing to do, but more and more organizers are aiming for diverse agendas, not only for gender parity, but people from all walks of life. And they even go so far as to ask if you're a member of an underrepresented group when you're filling out a Call for Speakers form online.
Engagement is probably the most important part. You want to make sure that you're finding speakers and subject matter experts who are truly bought into the idea of speaking.
You're going to have much more success with people who are keen and willing to get out there and speak. They'll collaborate with you on abstract content, and you're going to have a lot more success with them than those who aren’t really interested in doing it, but have been told to do so.