stages

The Anatomy Of A Great Speaker Page

A speaker page is essential for anyone looking to land stages and grow their business with speaking. While most of your stages will come from your outreach, it’s important that you have a page ready where meeting planners can find, learn about and contact you with speaking opportunities.

But what exactly do you need on your speaker page to make yourself irresistible to meeting planners?

Before You Start Building Your Speaker Page

Before you build out your speaker page, you need to understand your positioning in the market. That is, you need to know what meeting planners and your customers desire, and be able to clearly communicate how you can deliver that.

Your story goes beyond the stage–it plays a crucial role in your positioning. The story of you, who you are, what you do, and why you do it is essential for mastering how you position yourself and how you present yourself to meeting planners and your customers. Check out 5 Steps To Great Brand Storytelling With Chris Smith to learn more about building an amazing brand story.

Eye Catching Headline

Just like landing pages selling a product, you need to have an eye-catching and enticing headline right at the beginning.

You can use the same tactics the best marketers use to sell their products to sell yourself as a speaker.

Promo Video

Your promo video will probably be the first thing the meeting planner engages with after they see your headline. This video should be high-energy and show off the best aspects of your personality and the value you bring to your audiences.

Here’s an example of a promo video:

A promo video should have 4 main components:

  • Professional Quality – This is not an area where you need to go cheap or use your iPhone. A general ballpark for what you should expect to spend on something like this is $1,000-$5,000. They usually take a few hours to shoot, and the finished product should be about 2-5 minutes long.
  • Problem Solving – This is where your positioning is essential. You need to build credibility by demonstrating that you understand the meeting planner and their problems (finding great speakers). You also need to show you know the audience of the meeting planner, how to solve the problems they’re facing, and the world they live in.
  • Engaging – Your video needs to be exciting, fast-moving and interesting. By paying for professional quality editing, you can get good editing and music in the video to help it stay interesting. The key to keeping it engaging is always to be laser-focused on the needs and desires of the meeting planner.
  • Leave them wanting more – You want to give enough that you show you’re an expert, but you don’t want to reveal all your secrets and content in the video. Think of your video as a movie trailer. It gives you enough to want to see the movie, but not enough to give away the whole story.

Your promo video is a great place to test out your signature sentence. A signature sentence is your entire story and signature talk distilled into one crisp sentence. It makes for a perfect opener that explains what you do and catches the attention of the meeting planner from the beginning.

Here’s the basic formula for a signature sentence:

I [action] [who] to experience [what] so they can get [result].

Here are a few examples of signature sentences put together by attendees of Reach Academy Live.

About You

You want to include 2-3 paragraphs of text about yourself. Most people are tempted to just write out their own story and history here, but remember, the “about me” section is never really about you–it’s about the meeting planner.

In other words, don’t just spout out your whole life’s story here–make sure that every sentence in your about me section speaks to these three things:

  • The event planner’s problems
  • Show you understand their audience
  • Why you’re different

Let’s break down a sample from LaVonna Roth’s speaking page and see how she tackles all three of these points in just two sentences:

“Highly energetic and dynamic, LaVonna Roth is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, consultant and author, bridging how the brain learns (and thinks), with people’s incredible intrinsic skills and talents (how they S.H.I.N.E.) is her deep passion. Her goal is to help individuals become confident in who they are, and for them to use that aptitude in making a difference within their communities.”

“Highly energetic and dynamic, LaVonna Roth is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, consultant and author,” – A meeting planner’s biggest fear is getting a dud speaker, and this line gives social proof that she’s experienced and entertaining.

“Bridging how the brain learns (and thinks), with people’s incredible intrinsic skills and talents” – This touches on why she is different by combining learning and talent in a unique way.

“Her goal is to help individuals become confident in who they are, and for them to use that aptitude in making a difference within their communities.” – This speaks to the desires of the audience. She’s showing here that she knows what they want and can help them get it.

Popular Speaking Topics

If you only have one signature talk developed, try to write descriptions for several versions of your talk that emphasize different aspects of it. Even if it’s largely the same talk, you give the meeting planner a sense of choice in the matter, and their choice can help guide you on what to focus on for their audience and event.

Videos Of Recent Talks

Though you should have footage of you speaking in your promo video, it will probably just be short clips of you talking. Many meeting planners want to see uncut footage of you speaking, not just a “sizzle reel.” This gives them a better idea of what you’re really like on stage, and that you didn’t just edit clips together to make yourself look good.

You don’t need to have a video of a full talk up, especially if it’s a 30 or 60-minute talk. Just pick out a solid 5-minute clip to post from one of the strongest sections of your talk. Try to get clips of yourself being energetic, engaging the audience, or sharing some of your best ideas.

Downloadable Speaker Packet

A good speaker packet will say many of the same things your page will say but in a printable format. Many people still prefer to have something they can hold in their hands, share at meetings, and compare side-by-side with other sheets. By having this packet available for download, you signal you understand the meeting planner and how they work.

Here’s a great example of a speaker sheet from Chris Smith.

This can be the same speaker sheet you use as part of your Speaker Box. I recommend having a “printer-friendly” version of your packet available, too.

Social Proof

Social proof is crucial on your speaker page because it helps put the meeting planner at ease. They don’t want to risk giving away a keynote slot to someone who is inexperienced, or who may bomb on their stage. Social proof shows that you’re experienced and backs up the statements that you make in your promo video.

There are many different ways to approach social proof on your speaking page. If you’re just starting out speaking, you may not have many of these things yet. So make sure you start collecting this information to build out your social proof as soon as possible.

Logos from events

If you’ve been speaking for a while and have landed some big-name stages, using the logos of the events where you’ve spoken is a powerful way to show your experience.

Testimonials from hosts

The next level of this is to get testimonials from hosts of the events. This is great because it can not only point out how great of a speaker you are, but the hosts can also talk about how easy you were to work with behind the scenes, which is also a big concern of meeting planners.

Ratings

Most events hand out surveys at the end of the event where they rate speakers, what they liked, what they didn’t, and what they want more of. Using this can be a powerful form of social proof because many meeting planners are doing everything they can to keep their event highly rated.

Most meeting planners are happy to share any rating data they collect on you. Sometimes there’s even comments and feedback that you could use.

Speaker Request Form

If the rest of your speaker page does its job right, then the meeting planner you’re speaking to is going to want to reach out to you to talk about putting you on their stage. Make it easy for them by putting a speaker request form at the bottom of your page that collects the essential information about the event.

Here’s what your speaker request form should include:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Event website
  • Date and location
  • Preferred topics
  • Describe the event
  • Anything else I should know?

Follow Up Email Sequence

Once someone fills out your speaker request form, you should have an automated email series ready to start messaging them right away. Though you can’t depend entirely on automation to get you stages, you can have a sequence set up to make it easier for you.

You can have email set up to provide additional information about yourself, request more information from the meeting planner to further qualify them, or send them a link to book a call with you or your team.

Email automation is one of our favorite outreach strategies and a key element of The Unstoppable Stage Campaign.

Personalizing Your Speaker Page

Once you have your speaker page developed, it’s easy to make copies of it and personalize them for your dream stages. For the high-priority events on your “dream stages list,” you may want to go the extra mile and tailor your speaker page to those events.

Meeting planners are bombarded with cheap pitches from speakers all day. Most of the time it’s clear they didn’t put more than 5 minutes into copy/pasting an email template and sending them the same thing they just sent 100 other planners.

By creating a personalized speaker page, you can create a very personal feel for the meeting planner without having to reinvent the wheel every time you create a page. This can make you stand out from the many other speakers trying to get on that stage.

  • Use the name and language of the event – Talk about the mission of the event on your page and align your topics and values.
  • Use the name of the meeting planner – If you’ve done your research on the event, you should know the meeting planner in charge of the event.
  • Mention testimonials from similar events – You can focus your testimonials to address the most relevant information to that specific meeting planner and event.
  • Tailor your keynotes to the audience – You can modify the title and descriptions of the talk to be extra focused and relevant for the specific event and their audience.

Conclusion

Treat your speaker page as a landing page that sells yourself and your story as the product. Always keep the focus of the speaker page on the meeting planner and their audience. With time, this may become one of the most valuable pages on your website.

Inside the Mind of a Meeting Planner

Insights from 15 Industry Leaders on Making an Impression, Booking Stages, and Getting Invited Back Next Year

Speakers are always asking us how to make a good impression with a meeting planner. How do you go from a total unknown to a booked speaker? Where should you invest your time when you’re just getting started? What are the secret mistakes that other prospective speakers make?

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first ever Mind of a Meeting Planner summit. We brought together fifteen top meeting planners, to give the inside scoop on what works for them and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

The results were outstanding. Every meeting planner brought unique insights on making the perfect first impression, standing out from the crowd, and getting invited back for next year’s event. They shared their biggest turn-offs and tore through some of the industry’s biggest misconceptions. Are you sending out a sizzle reel? Do you think you’re not famous enough for the top events? You’ll want to read this.

Dush Ramachandran

Dush Ramachandran has built Underground Online Seminar into an event that Forbes describes as a “must-attend conference for entrepreneurs.” Their focus is on presenting insightful, useful content to the marketers in attendance. And while they often have big-name speakers onstage, like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, they also regularly book small-business owners and less-known speakers.

“A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view,” Dush says. They want speakers with a unique take, who have their own insights into the industry. If it’s a controversial take, that can be even better. “We’re looking for someone that can come onstage and command and hold the attention of the audience,” he explains. In some cases, that means a well-known, big-name speaker. In other cases, he’s seen newcomers have a bigger impact on the conference attendees than headliners – by sharing their unique, compelling point of view.

Photo of meeting planner Dush Ramachandran with quote, "A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view."

[bctt tweet=“A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view.” – Dush Ramachandran” username=”advancereach”]

Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn speaks and books speakers for with Ideas Unlimited Seminars, a seminar series dedicated to helping teachers improve their classroom management skills. Their events have trained thousands of teachers and routinely sell out, as teachers, administrators, and counselors gather to learn concrete techniques from leading experts.

What his biggest turn-off? “When the first five sentences in the email ask to start with ‘I’,” Pat responds. He’s interested in a speaker that’s here to help his audience, not to sell themselves. When the ask explains that they know a specific problem the audience has, and how to solve it, that catches Pat’s attention.

We emphasize this point in Advance Your Reach seminars and coachings, too. A speaker shouldn’t approach an opportunity thinking it’s about them. It’s not even really about the meeting planner; it’s about solving a problem for the audience. The ask is all about you and your, You, the meeting planner, are having a great event where your audience will come to learn the solution to a problem. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re trying to get, that’s very important.

Pat meets speakers through other conferences, especially in breakout sessions. Then, in narrowing down his potential speakers, he says, “concrete deliverables is the key.” The most important asset to send is a good video“not a sizzle reel that’s been cut up,” but the real video of you speaking to an audience.

Image of meeting planner Pat Quinn with quote, "The most important asset to send is a good video - not a sizzle reel that's been cut up, but real, uncut video of you speaking to an audience."

[bctt tweet=“The most important asset to send is an uncut video of you speaking to an audience.” – Pat Quinn” username=”advancereach”]

Connor Beaton

Through ManTalks and their annual Real Talk Summit, Connor Beaton brings in speakers and guests year-round as bloggers, podcast guests, and event speakers. His guests are a mix of celebrity speakers and less well-known experts.

We asked him how regular peoplepeople who aren’t celebrities, who don’t have a New York Times best-selling bookconnect with him and get hired. “If you’re not a celebrity, for me that’s actually an advantage,” Conner says, “because then you can approach me and say, ‘Here’s the problem that I see your community facing, here’s my story and how it can engage your audience.’”

He emphasizes storytelling as the unique x-factor that unknown speakers bring to the table, a point that we dug into in our recent blog post on brand storytelling. Audiences already know the stories of his celebrity guests, so telling your personal, authentic story sets you apart. “I’m so interested when I don’t know who you are because I’m always looking for a fresh face and a fresh voice,” Conner says. That freshness comes from bringing your personal story and perspective into your speaking.

Photo of meeting planner Conner Beaton with quote, "I'm so interested when you're not a celebrity, because I'm always looking for a fresh face and a fresh voice..."

 

[bctt tweet=“I’m so interested when you’re not a celebrity because I’m always looking for a fresh face” – Conner Beaton” username=”advancereach”]

Heather Cazad

Heather Cazad books speakers for the National Forum on Character Education, an annual conference hosted by Character.org. This year, they had room for 50 speakers, and received closer to 200 submissions. She offers some great practical advice on getting the attention of a meeting planner when you’re just another face in a big crowd.

First, she says, make sure your proposal actually matches that year’s conference theme. The irrelevant proposals are first to go. Then, she looks at reviews the speakers received if they’ve spoken at her conference before. For new speakers, she says, “I would take recommendations from other meeting planners I trust.”

In fact, an Advance Your Reach client booked this very stage by putting their great reviews to work for them. After 3 years of trying without success, the client won the booking by sending an actual review from a previous conference, including a perfect score and glowing remarks. The meeting planner called the reviewer to verify, and that built up the credibility of this unknown speaker enough to land her that stage.

Heather has one final, excellent tip on making yourself memorable: focus on the long game. “I love the people who didn’t get selected, but they come to the event anyway, learn about the event and participate, then follow up right after.” Focusing on the organization and the conference content proves that you’re actually interested in the topics, not just self-promotion. And next year, your application will be sure to stand out.

Photo of meeting planner Heather Cazad with quote, "Even if you don't get selected, go to the event anyway - learn about the audience, participate, then follow up right after."

[bctt tweet=“Even if you don’t get selected, go to the event anyway.” – Heather Cazad” username=”advancereach”]

Julie May

Julie May books speakers for the Joyful Living Women’s Conference, an event that focuses on bringing women together to increase personal joy, become empowered and inspire others.

The number one thing she looks for when hiring speakers is a 3-5 minute video of them speaking. “If they catch me from the beginning, and I want to do something different with my life because I watched it,” she says, “they’re a shoo-in!” This may seem like a lot to ask of a video clip, but she says it’s accomplished by keeping the video short and to-the-point. “If they can do that in five minutes, then what can they do in an hour on my stage?”

The videos you send to meeting planners are so important, we’ve even published our ultimate guide to video email. Tools like BombBomb make it easy to record and send intro videos, and to track their impact using real-time metrics. When booking stages, video is your audition. Make it count.

Photo of meeting planner Julie May with quote, "A speaker is 'a shoo-in' if they catch me from the beginning of their demo video and I want to do something different with my life because I watched it."

[bctt tweet=“You win if watch your demo, and I want to do something different with my life.” – Julie May” username=”advancereach”]

David Bayer

For his annual event The Powerful Living Experience Live, David Bayer books speakers who will help his attendees “reignite the passion and spirit that lies dormant within each and every one of us.” He’s interested in unique, authentic speakers who fit the theme of the event and really have something to offer.

One example is Chris Smith, who we recently featured in our post on brand storytelling. Smith tells his own unique story, with a genuine passion for what he’s doing and what he’s learned. Once again, storytelling and authenticity are key—and it has to naturally fit with the event goals. “We recruit speakers who are congruent with our content,” Bayer says. “It feels good to be congruent, and it feels bad if you need to convince someone” that you’re a fit for the event.

“People need to hear your story, from you,” Bayer says. You don’t have to be a celebrity to share a meaningful story. Instead, he wants the unique perspective that only you can share. A celebrity speaker may have a similar underlying message about, say, the importance of dedication. But only you can surprise your audience with the story of your unique journey and how you see the world.

Photo of meeting planner David Bayer with quote, "Become obsessed with what you're doing and stick with it... people need to hear your message from you."

[bctt tweet=“Become obsessed with what you’re doing… people need to hear your message from you.” – David Bayer” username=”advancereach”]

Phil Mershon

Phil Mershon is a meeting planner for Social Media Examiner’s annual Social Media Marketing World conference. The enormous conference has over 5,000 attendees each year. It brings together industry leaders from the world’s top brands, subject matter and content creation experts, and professionals looking to network and expand their skills.

What do his successful speakers have in common? “A servant mindset,” Phil says. “They understand how to serve their audience.” This means not only having a deep knowledge of the subject that you’re speaking on but being an excellent communicator who can break a topic down clearly and provide actionable tips. “We’re looking for teachers.”

Phil also looks at the reviews for speakers who presented at his event in the past. A staff member watches the recording of sessions with bad reviews and evaluates what went wrong. He’ll even give feedbacknot just the scores and reviews from attendees, but his own personal, constructive feedbackbut only when asked. “I had a guest last year that had bad reviews,” he says, “but I talked to her about it and she took the feedback so well that I invited her back the next year.”

Photo of meeting planner Phil Mershon with quote, "Great speakers have a servant mindset, they understand how to serve their audience."

[bctt tweet=“Great speakers have a servant mindset, they understand how to serve their audience.” – Phil Mershon” username=”advancereach”]

Audrey Hagen

Audrey Hagen books speakers for numerous conferences worldwide through her event management company, Platinum Events. Because she books multiple different conferences, she has a unique position and relationship with speakers and has the power to make or break many opportunities.

Audrey tells us that the key to success is to “take every opportunity you can get and be gracious, you never know who’s in the audience.” Demonstrating integrity and commitment to the audience is sure to impress her. What doesn’t impress? “Having someone text me [during an event], saying, ‘I’m here, make room, let me on the stage.’ There’s no integrity in that.”

She evaluates first-time speakers along similar lines. It’s impressive when “they come from a place of heart, they’re authentic, and they’re putting the audience first.” When she sees that, the speaker stands out in her mind and is more likely to get booked for more opportunities down the road.

Photo of meeting planner Audrey Hagen with quote, "Take every opportunity you can get and be gracious, you never know who's in the audience."

[bctt tweet=”Take every opportunity to be gracious, you never know who’s in the audience. – Audrey Hagen” username=”advancereach”]

Karl Krummenacher

Mindshare Summit is an annual conference that brings together health and wellness entrepreneurs. Meeting planner Karl Krummenacher books speakers who can help his attendees grow their business, with a special emphasis on speakers with expertise in the health and wellness entrepreneurs.

Karl emphasizes the importance of research. He’s looking for speakers who “take the extra effort to personalize content to the audience.” A standard, one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for his niche event, and he needs speakers who are willing to go the extra mile. “Can you take the time to weave into your presentation the language that our audience is used to?”

Research is the key to stagesnot just winning them, but being successful on stage. It can require extra effort, but knowing what is going to be relevant to a specific audience makes your presentations more powerful. It can be the deciding factor in booking an event, and even more in getting invited back next year.

Photo of meeting planner Karl Krummenacher with quote, "Make the extra effort to personalize your content to the audience."

[bctt tweet=“Make the extra effort to personalize your content to the audience.” – Karl Krummenacher” username=”advancereach”]

Keith Yackey

Keith Yackey found success from the start with his approach to the Amped Life seminar, which gives subject-matter experts tools to get their message out and monetize their expertise. He tells us about his approach, which focuses on generosity and long-term success. “You can tell when people are self-serving,” Keith says, and “you can just tell when people are supportive of each other.”

The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you. When Keith was planning his first event, David Bayer reached out and offered to help promote it—David was excited about the event and wanted to share it with his list and audience. Instead, Keith invited him to speak. The offer to help was selfless and generous and made Keith want to work with him and help him in return. David ended up booking that stage because he was able to “raise the level of the event,” bring in an audience and lead with generosity.

One final tip Keith offers is to give praise and thanks to the meeting planners. The event promoters often get attention for a successful event, while the meeting planners go unnoticed and underappreciated. Set yourself apart by thanking them.

Photo of meeting planner Keith Yackey holding child, with quote "The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you."

[bctt tweet=“The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you.” – Keith Yackey” username=”advancereach”]

Marc Gutman

Marc Gutman books speakers for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global network that hosts events ranging from small forums and panels to large, international conferences. He offers practical tips to navigate fee negotiations. He knows the topic can be touchy, but he recommends speakers be concrete and realistic about their proposed fee. “I’m always very frank,” Marc says, and going into that conversation he already knows roughly what his budget is. He’s seen speakers demand a high fee because they thought it would make them seem impressive or high-demand, even though they’re really being paid a fraction of that amount. This ultimately just slows the conversation down, and it can be a real turn-off.

Beyond that initial budget conversation, he looks for speakers to fit different roles. “There’s always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story,” Marc says. There’s also always room for a subject matter expert who is there to teach great tactics. Both styles can work, and his job is to find a mix of different approaches that will make the event a success.

He has an extra tip for unknown speakers. “If I don’t know you, I’m not sure I’m looking for you,” he explains, “but I’m probably only a few clicks away from an introduction from someone you know.” Speakers don’t have to be famous to be “heard of,” if they can leverage their existing networks to make an impression.

Photo of meeting planner Marc Gutman with quote, "There's always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story."

[bctt tweet=”“There’s always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story.” – Marc Gutman” username=”advancereach”]

Kym Yancey

For their events and summits, Kym Yancey of eWomenNetwork books speakers who can teach his attendees concrete strategies in marketing, entrepreneurship, and business growth.

With Kym, the content is key: “People buy topics, not speakers,” he says, so “make sure your topic is engaging.” He’s interested in polished presentations where he can immediately see the benefits to his audience. “Put thought into the title of your talk and the takeaways” in your proposal, he advises. “We’re making a decision in 60 secondsif you don’t see it in 60, then you’re done.”

He also agrees with many of our other planners, that a great video clip is a key to booking stages. “Don’t give me a sizzle reel, give me five uninterrupted minutes.” Kym uses the video to see who you are as a speaker and uses the proposal to see what you bring to his audience.

One bonus tip to really stand out is to do a little research on the organization first. “When reaching out, lead with something about the organization… some compliment.” It shows that you’ve done your homework and care about the person on the other end of your email.

Photo of meeting planner Kym Yancey with quote, "When reaching out, lead with something about the organization or the audience they serve."

[bctt tweet=“When reaching out, lead with something about the organization.” – Kym Yancey ” username=”advancereach”]

Deanna Rogers

Deanna Rogers is a meeting planner for Traffic and Conversion Summit, an event described by Inc. Magazine as “the largest, and best, marketing event you’ve never heard of.” She offers some crucial no-nos for speakers looking to break into bigger stages and book a second year.

“A big pet peeve is not being prepared to give us all the materials we need on our timeline,” Deanna says. A difficult, disorganized, or unpolished speaker may book her stage one year, but they’re not getting invited back. “It’s a big problem if you or the company that represents you is difficult to work with,” she says.

Speakers must also be impeccable in their presentation and ready to make a great first impression. Deanna will often travel to see a speaker on stage in person, and invitations to do so catch her eye. “There are things like fidgets and twitches that speakers will do that you don’t see until you meet them in person,” she says. Practice to iron out these problems before you take the stage, then take the extra step to find out meeting planners in the area whenever you’re presenting. It’s an opportunity to make a great impression and to build trust by really showing what you can do.

[bctt tweet=“Make sure you’re easy to work with – fit with the meeting planner’s timeline.” – Deanna Rogers ” username=”advancereach”]

Sandra Kurland

For the California Association of Student Leaders annual conference, Sandra Kurland books speakers with special attention to the unique needs of her young audience. “With the youth, the delivery of the message is very important,” she says. “You need to grab their attention early.”

It’s important that her speakers have stellar educational content. Beyond inspiring the audience, they must provide resources to help them take action. “If they come off the stage and can teach those skills, it makes a big difference,” she says.

Speakers should have goals and plans beyond just landing the stage and giving their presentation, too. “I need someone who is looking beyond just the stage,” Sandra says, because “there will be more opportunities if they do well on our stage.” Sandra is always on the lookout for speakers who she can book for additional school visits and workshops. If a conference presentation has excellent content that really sparks the interest of her audience, she’s ready to book that speaker throughout the year. The best speakers are always on the lookout for ways they can contribute to the organization’s long-term goals.

Photo of meeting planner Sandra Kurland with quote, "With the youth, the delivery of your message is very important, you need to grab their attention early."

[bctt tweet=”“The delivery of your message is very important, you need to grab their attention early.” – Sandra Kurland” username=”advancereach”]

Don Schaffer

Don Schaffer books speakers for various events hosted by the California Association of Directors of Activities, including regional and state conferences.

The relationship is very important to him when booking speakers. “The biggest thing is being willing to be a partner,” Don says. “We don’t like the blow-in, blow-out speakers. We want them to be a part of our event, not just speak and leave.” He rarely hires speakers he hasn’t already heard. A prospective keynote speaker once contacted Don’s team, letting them know that he was in town speaking, and invited them to come hear him speak. That helped build the trust needed to land the booking.

This can have a huge impact on your career. Prospective speakers should make contact with event planners anywhere they speak. Identify your dream stages, and find out who books them. Then, when you’re in town, invite them out. Take them to lunch and invite them to hear you speak afterword. It helps you stand out, puts a real face to your ask, and scores the undivided attention of someone with the power to book big stages.

Photo of meeting planner Don Schaffer with quote, "We don't like the blow-in, blow-out speakers. We want them to be a part of our event, not just speak and leave."

[bctt tweet=”“We don’t like the blow-in, blow-out speakers.” – Don Schaffer ” username=”advancereach”]

Time to win some stages!

There you have it. Insights and wisdom from fifteen top professionals on the do’s and don’ts of contacting meeting planners, making a great first impression, and setting yourself apart from the crowd.

What’s next? How do you take these tips and organize them into a plan, to actually win stages? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our Unstoppable Stage Campaign will give you the next steps to turn advice into action. This is your step-by-step guide to getting noticed, building rapport, and making yourself impossible to ignore.

Why I Love Speakers (and Why I Always Will)…

I sat motionless.

I knew that something had finally “clicked.”

As the applause was dying down, I tried to discreetly wipe the tears that had pooled in my eyes.

From my seat in the front row, I had the advantage of none of my students seeing how emotional I had become. I tried to gather myself before I turned to face them.

I was in my early 20’s as a youth leader in the tiny cow-town of Hereford in the windy plains of the Texas panhandle.

About 3 months prior to this moment I had been strongly encouraged by one of my mentors to bring a specific program to my students and community. Trusting this man wholeheartedly I begged (and I mean begged) several local business leaders to give me the funds I needed to bring in this speaker. I earnestly believed that this speaker could make such a positive impact on our community.

Boy, was I right.

So there I sat at the end of the presentation for our students. I was in the front row, as I mentioned, and I was deeply moved. The message of kindness, forgiveness, and compassion had so deeply penetrated my heart; I was woefully unprepared.

I will never forget, as I spun to face my students, that many students were emotional. I saw hugs, tears, high fives. Some of the meanest, toughest kids in school were asking for forgiveness with tears in their eyes.

In just 60 minutes this speaker brought together our community; from the hallways of our schools to the chapels and churches in our close-knit town.

My first thought was, “This speaker did, in 60 minutes, what I could not do in years, maybe decades.”

My second thought was about my father.

My relationship with my dad was a rocky one. I don’t retain many memories from my childhood, but the ones I have are not pleasant. My parents’ relationship was tricky; they married and divorced 2 times. We moved around a lot. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as my parents were trying to work things out.

The truth was that I was mad at my Dad. We hardly ever spoke. I went through middle school, high school, and college with little contact with him.

But, after seeing this speaker rock the stage with his message of forgiveness, I just knew that if my dad could only see the presentation that night, he would change. He would feel different.

I had a lot of family in Hereford (and still do), so we gathered everyone up. I had aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents ready to attend.

And, most importantly, my Dad.

That night the auditorium was packed. Over 1,000 people (in a town of about 12,000) came to hear the message. The impact was palpable. For the 2nd time that day the speaker rocked the stage, people were incredibly moved, relationships were restored… the response was overwhelming.

I hugged my aunts and close friends that were there. I couldn’t wait to see how the presentation had affected my Dad. I was ready for a hug, an apology, a handshake, whatever. I didn’t know what to expect.

2

But when I saw his face, my heart sank.

He was stone-faced. Cold. Like nothing had happened.

I couldn’t tell if he had just experienced an emotionally powerful presentation or was watching C-SPAN.

I was floored.

Actually, I was mad. I thought, “if that doesn’t get through to him, then nothing will.” As silly as it may seem, that speaker was my “Hail Mary” to restore this broken relationship with my Dad.

The auditorium cleared out. We shuffled back to our cars, and after a few more tearful good-byes we headed home.

The “Hail Mary” had fallen flat.

A few weeks later, my wife brought me a posted, stamped letter she had retrieved from the mailbox. It was addressed to me.

And the return address was… from my Dad? (The funny thing is that I lived 2 blocks from him, but he drove 4 blocks to go the post office!)

I cautiously opened the letter. My jaw slowly dropped as he told me time and time again how proud he was of me. He apologized for the father he had been. He said he was inspired by what I was doing in the community.

And that phrase that I had so longed to hear for many years… there it was in black and white… over and over again… “I love you.”

My wife and I held hands and read that letter again and again.

It was the first step towards a reconciled relationship with my Dad.

Now, it didn’t happen overnight. But it was the first step. Fast forward now, 13 years later, and our relationship is completely restored. We are closer than we’ve ever been to. He is not only an amazing Dad and friend to me, but he is also an incredible, loving Grandfather to my kids.

And you know the real kicker? A few years later, he found out that, at the age of 49, he was going to be a father again. And when his second son was born, he told me that he felt like this was his 2nd chance to be an awesome dad. And he is.

GROW FAST

That night in Hereford I saw the power of a speaker. I saw the impact of a powerful message.

That is why I love speakers.

A speaker changed our community (we had that speaker back for several years).

A speaker changed my career (I essentially dropped what I was doing to get this message into every school in America… more on that later).

A speaker changed my family tree and mended some broken branches.

What message do you have inside you? What message are you taking to the world? Do you realize the immeasurable impact that your message can have on a person, a small group, business, town, or family?

Do you believe that your message can live beyond those 45 or 60 minutes you have on stage? Do you really believe that?

The truth is… it can.

Pete Vargas
Founder, Advance Your Reach