Day 2 at Reach Academy Live was all about stages. This is where Pete Vargas is truly in his element. The focus of all the discussion and topics was how to get on more stages and find the stages that are the most lucrative for you. (If you missed the highlights from Day 1, check them out here)

What meeting planners want

Many people want to get on more stages, but few seem to understand the needs and mindset of the meeting planners that are the gatekeepers for those stages. To be successful on stage, you need to win the stage first, which means you need to know how to work with meeting planners. The good news is, with a few small tweaks to your approach, you could easily double the amount of stages you win.

Here’s what meeting planners want:

  • Solve their audiences problem – They want to know you understand their audience and know how to solve a problem that they are facing.
  • Powerful video – They want to see you in action speaking. It’s usually better to have a good uncut clip of you speaking for 3-5 minutes rather than a sizzle reel.
  • Know the event’s theme and purpose – Do research on the event and what it’s values are before you try to land the stage.
  • Have a unique perspective – They want someone who will bring fresh and interesting ideas to their audience, not just parrot what everyone else is doing.

There are also many common turn offs for meeting planners:

  • Being too salesy – Being too pushy will damage your trust with the planners.
  • Making it about yourself, not the audience – Many pitches to meeting planners have every sentence start with the word “I”. Frame everything you do with “you” or make it about the audience.
  • Bad reviews – Word travels quickly in the speaking world, so be careful not to get bad reviews.
  • Treating their staff poorly – Don’t treat their team poorly or be difficult to work with.
  • Jack of all trades – They don’t want to hear that you have talks on Facebook ads, gardening and leadership and you’re ready to do any of them.

Along with the common do’s and don’t with meeting planners, there’s also a lot of common misconceptions about events and working with meeting planners that many speakers hold.

  • Breakouts are bad – Many speakers have a “keynote or bust” philosophy. This ends up hurting them in the long run because there’s a lot of powerful opportunity with breakouts, and they are usually much easier to land than keynotes.
  • I’m not a celebrity, so I can’t win stages – Many meeting planners are looking for new faces, not just big names.
  • Meeting planners want to know everything about me – Like in normal conversation, we often “vomit” out as much information as possible when speaking with planners. Practice your story and be clear and concise in the information you deliver.
  • I can’t get feedback forms from past events – It’s possible to get your feedback forms from past events if you ask. They can be useful for helping you book more stages.

Most of the insights that were shared were from “The Mind Of A Meeting Planner Summit” that was held a few weeks before the show. Though the summit is closed now, we do have a post up with highlights and quotes from 15 planners. Check it out here – Inside the Mind of a Meeting Planner

The anatomy of a great speaker page

The most common questions at Reach Academy Live revolve around what assets you need to work with meeting planners. A good website or landing page that showcases your speaking topics is the foundation for all of your outreach. Here’s what makes a great speaker page.

  • Free gift – Your website and speaker page should offer a gift that speaks directly to the problem that resonates with the meeting planner and their audience.
  • A promo video – A short 3-5 minute video that shows who you are and footage of you speaking.
  • Social proof – Quotes from past events praising you, list what publications you’ve been featured in, ratings from past events.
  • Popular speaking topics – List one or two of your most popular speaking topics.
  • (Bonus) a good tagline – A short yet clever tagline can make you stand out to a meeting planner and entice them to dig deeper into your speaker page. For an example take a look at Nicolas Kusmich’s masterful tagline. “Because cute, warm-fuzzy, run-of-the-mill anecdotal quotes and stories don’t cut it anymore!

There are many misconceptions about what makes a good promo video. Most believe you need to have footage of you standing in front of thousands of people, but that’s not the case. Take a look at Pete’s video below and notice how he has a few clips of him talking on stage, but much is him speaking to the camera. Notice how the video also has social proof baked into it.

Also, as many mentioned on the Mind Of A Meeting Planner, meeting planners are looking for unedited, uncut footage of you speaking for 3 minutes or so.

Know your stages

To get the most success with your speaking, you need to understand the different types of stages and their inherent advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your audience and your business some of these stages will work better for you than others. Once you understand what your “dream stages” look like, you have more power and flexibility to focus on the stages that will move your business forward and avoid stages that will waste your time.

There’s 5 different types of offline stages:

  • Paid to speak – You get paid an honorarium to speak, but you may not be able to directly sell a product from the stage.
  • Speak to sell – You can sell from the stage, but you’re usually not paid to speak.
  • Free stages – Stages you don’t get paid to speak on.
  • Stages that “cost” – These stages you actually have to pay to get on, but they also provide valuable opportunities.
  • Your own events – You get to choose the rules for your own events.

Along with different kinds of stages, there’s different ways you can speak on those stages.

  • Keynotes
  • Breakouts
  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • TV and radio media
  • Local Stages
  • Masterminds

If you understand what kind of stages you want to speak on and what kind of speaking you want to do, you’ll have a strategic clarity that will help you find your “dream stages” that enable you to grow your business and get the results you want. You can map this out using a tool called the Scalable Stage Matrix.

Reach academy live - scalable stage matrix

How to win your dream stages

Over 13+ years Pete has developed and perfected The Unstoppable Stage Campaign, this is his process for landing some of the most competitive stages in the world. It’s a highly detailed campaign that uses a mix of cutting-edge technology and automation with a human touch to make you stand out to meeting planners and get you on stages faster.

This campaign takes a long time to develop and perfect, so Pete outlined the three parts of the campaign that could get the audience some quick wins and momentum. These were video email, the speaker box, and the win-win script.

Video email outreach

Video email is uniquely powerful for people looking to get on more stages. A meeting planner can get dozens of pitches in their inbox every day from people who want to get on their stages. If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, it will be difficult to stand out. Video email is great because it is unique, it catches their attention and provokes their curiosity.

More importantly, a video email is an audition. It’s an opportunity to indirectly show the meeting planner how engaging a speaker you are, how clearly you can share your story, and how well you understand their audience. Though you should have a demo video prepared, a good video email will get the meeting planners imagining you on their stage.

A good video email will introduce yourself, explain how well you understand the meeting planner’s needs, and let them know something special is coming in the mail for them.

For more on how to master video email check out The Ultimate Guide To Video Email.

The Speaker Box

While a meeting planner can get dozens of emails every day from people wanting to get on their stages, it’s rare for them to receive anything other than bills and coupon books in their mailbox.

The speaker box is the secret weapon of Advance Your Reach to make a strong impression on the meeting planners and get your materials in their hands.

A speaker box can include:

  • A speaker sheet – A sheet that highlights you, your speaking topics and provides some social proof.
  • Your work – This could be a book, a USB drive with digital files, videos of you speaking, articles or publications you’ve been featured in.
  • A gift – A small gift that’s useful and interesting will endear you to the planner and show that you’re not making this all about yourself. Remember that if you’re tempted to put your logo on the gift you send, change it to their logo and you’ll make yourself totally unforgettable.
  • References and testimonials – This could be people talking about your speaking, or the work you do when you’re not on stage.

Win-Win Script

The Win-win script is designed for your first call with a meeting planner. This script focuses on adding value to what the meeting planner is doing, like offering to sponsor or promote the event. This helps the meeting planner let down their guard from all the other speakers who just want to “take”.

Another strategy is to offer a gift to the audience. This could be a copy of your book, a course you offer, or access to a tool you’ve developed. Make sure to frame it as something that will help the audience with a problem they have, not as a marketing tactic.

For more details on outreach strategies for landing stages (or just about anything else) check out – Unstoppable Outreach Strategies That Cut Through The Noise.

Bonus tip – use your champions

Pete shared some insights he learned from Marc Gutman. Marc told him he only works with speakers he knows or he has seen before. Though this seems like a tough barrier, it can be easily overcome by finding a mutual connection on Linkedin and getting an introduction.

Chances are you have more than a few people who know you and your quality that could introduce you to people that could get you on your dream stages. The process of getting on stages is much easier and faster when you have a good champion to help make the right introductions. A champion can be a client, a meeting planner that knows you, a coach/mentor, colleague.

Create a list of as many champions as you can think of and reach out to them tell them you’re looking to get on more stages. Ask them if there’s anyone they know or if they have any ideas for how that could happen. Always check your social media for mutual connections between meeting planners and champions to see if you can get an introduction.

The Stage Panel

To dig deeper into the various kinds of stages and how to succeed on them a diverse panel spoke about their own experiences winning stages, or in some cases, creating their own stage.

Pat Flynn, Smart Passive IncomePat described how his podcast has become a massive stage that he can speak to on a weekly basis from the comfort of his home. He pointed out that he wanted to start a podcast in early 2008, but didn’t start until 2010. Now, 7 years later, he only wishes he started sooner. He recommended that new podcasters start with just two tools: the ATR 2100 for a mic and the Logitech C920 for video. For about $100, you can be on your way to a professional podcast and a stage of your own.

David Eaton, AxisDavid Eaton described the power of online summits to spread your message. He mentioned how the Parenting Teens Summit allowed him to reach millions more people online than he did with his in-person events. He even received messages from people in distant countries like Madagascar who got value from the summit who he never could have reached before launch the summit.

Jami King, One Orbit – Jami discussed the power of building a team to help you speak. Jami told the story of her business partner Leeroy Chao, an astronaut, was having trouble getting on stages (who could have better positioning than an astronaut?). Once Jami joined the team and helped with the booking process they more than tripled the amount of stages they were booking and it freed Leeroy up to focus on what he did best.

David Bayer, The Powerful Living ExperienceDavid spoke about the deep psychology of winning stages and how the story you tell yourself can influence your success on stages. He mentioned how often we get hung up on the small tactics and details to try and advance our work but neglect asking the tough questions and examining our inner mindset.

“You have to figure out what it is that keeps you from getting the results you want and focus there.”

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you can expect to meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible.

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.