Speakers Can Boost Your Trade Show ROI: Here’s How it Works


As an event professional, you have undoubtedly read many articles describing best practices for optimizing the return on your face-to-face marketing investment. One way to have a greater influence on attendees, the articles tell you, is to have speakers from your company on the education track. Great idea! But how do you move from knowing this is a good idea to making it happen?

Plan, Plan, Plan

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one: “Hey, Joe from widgets.com is speaking at the big industry show!” (The person saying this has the printed program in his [or her] hand.) “Why don’t you see if you can get Daisy on the program as a speaker?”

Sure, it would be great if Daisy could speak at the trade show. It would be even better if this thought occurred to someone about 18 months ago. The program is set. It’s printed. Joe is on it; Daisy is not. And although you can submit Daisy’s name and topic to be called on as a last-minute replacement for someone with the flu (not a good idea), the reality is that she probably won’t be a speaker this year.

So, let’s see how we can give Daisy a chance to become a speaker next year.

Speakers are recruited and vetted anywhere from 18 months to a year in advance of the trade show. How do you go about capitalizing on possible speaking opportunities?

  • Visit the event website 18-12 months before the event. There will be a tab on the site, something like “call for papers,” “call for speakers,” “educational offerings”—you get the picture.
  • Click on that link and find out what you must do to submit a speaking proposal.
  • Decide who in your company has something unique to tell the attendees at the trade show—and connect with that person, giving the dates of the trade show, your thoughts on why this speaking opportunity is a win-win, and how you know—in this case, Daisy—will do an awesome job. Cheerleading is important when you are convincing a person to speak.
  • If your company has a dedicated PR person, enlist their help in determining a good topic and in persuading the right person to deliver a presentation on that topic.
  • The form that you find online will ask some basic questions such as the speaker’s name, title, phone number, and email address. Quite possibly the form will have space for past speaking experience, expertise with the topic, professional credentials if any, plus suggestions for a format and length.
  • Once you have completed that part, you will submit a description of the speech. Don’t slack off at this point. You are creating a sales piece, promoting an idea, a person, and anticipated value.
  • After you write the description, create bullet points telling what the audience will learn. Let’s call these “objectives,” and we will talk about them—and more–in the next post.

By the way, if you feel you are the most competent person to speak at an event, go for it! These steps will work for you as well as for Daisy.

Our workbook, Creative Bravery for Your Face-to-Face Marketing Events, will show you how promoting your company’s speakers contributes to your overall strategy.

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