Speaking at tradeshows, conferences or other events, whilst possibly a little nerve-wracking, is one of the most effective ways to engage with and deliver your message to your audience. As such, we’re big advocates of finding the right speaker opportunities at key industry events for our clients. In fact, last week we secured a spot on a panel at London Tech Week for our cybersecurity specialist client, Distology. Getting off your stand and onto the stage at the right event is an excellent way to make sure you’re standing out from the crowd.
Whether you’re delivering a keynote session on your specialist subject or sitting on a panel discussing industry-wide issues alongside experts from other organisations, here are just a few ways in which making the most of speaker opportunities when they arise can benefit your business.
Establishing your organisation as a thought leader
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of speaking at events is that it gets you in front of your target audience and allows those attending the event to begin to make the association between your brand and your chosen topic. Not only is your name now out there, but giving engaging talks on a subject your organisation knows inside out will establish you as an expert in your field. However, it’s important to ensure that your chosen topic is both current and interesting. The key to this? Research, research, research.
Researching the audience at the event before selecting your topic and attending similar events as an audience member yourself is key as this will arm you with the knowledge of what works well and what your particular audience wants to hear about. One thing to be wary of is turning your slot into a sales pitch – many people quickly turn off as soon as they think you’re trying to sell them something. Another interesting option could be a joint speaker slot with a client that’s also a specialist in your chosen area. Having two people on stage at once adds an extra dimension to a speaker slot and also allows someone else to take the lead for a while, allowing you to take a breather or consider an answer to an audience question, for example.
Speaking at an event is also an excellent opportunity for networking, assisting you to make new connections, as well as strengthening pre-existing relationships within your industry. If you’ve ever been to a tradeshow, you may know how difficult it can be to make small talk and begin conversations with other visitors, without it feeling unnatural and forced. Being a speaker gives people both a reason to approach you and something to talk about, allowing you to have organic conversations, which are on message for your organisation. Forming these connections will open up the possibility of collaboration with others in your industry, which will help both your brand and the wider industry to move forward in the long term. However, it is important to foster these connections beyond the event. To do this, begin by connecting with people you’ve spoken to following your speaker slot on LinkedIn after the event so you have an easy way of reconnecting after the show.
Beyond networking at the event, many of the people that attend events will also report on the show and the talks they attended afterwards (we’ve done this ourselves here), so it’s a great way to generate some earned media coverage and increase your reach beyond the event. Many journalists attend tradeshows to keep up to date with the latest goings on in the industry and meet with exhibitors; it’s not every day that journalists from your key trade publications will be in the same room so by having a speaker slot you can really make the most of it. You’ll have an increased chance of grabbing their attention and building a relationship with them, which will help to secure further media opportunities in the future.
Whilst speaking opportunities shouldn’t be viewed as an opportunity for a hard sell, the connections you make off the back of speaking engagements can often turn into leads as a result of familiarity with your brand and your product. Whether it’s right after the show or much later down the line, establishing yourself as a thought leader and forming those connections will keep you at the back of people’s minds, and when they’re looking for your particular product or service, they’re more likely to remember you and have trust in your brand.
If you’d like to find out more about how to make the most of your tradeshow investment, check out our blog here, or if you would like some support to explore speaker opportunities in your industry, get in touch.