How to Pitch Virtual Summit Speakers And Hear "Yes" More Than "No"

summit speakers Oct 15, 2019

Let's talk about what to prepare before you pitch virtual summit speakers and what to include in your pitch to get a positive response!

Want to hear "yes" more than "no" when pitching virtual summit speakers? I know I do!

Pitching can be tricky and it's intimidating to sit and wonder what kind of response you'll get.

Today, we'll make sure you get a whole lot of positive responses by covering:

  • What you should have prepared before pitching
  • Why I pitch in 3 rounds and what that looks like
  • What to include in your pitch to get a positive response more often than not

How to prepare before pitching virtual summit speakers

Once you figure out your summit topic and goals, I'm sure you'll find yourself excited and ready to send pitches right away. Not so fast! You’ll get better results, plus hear “yes” more often if you cross off a few more tasks before hitting send.

These tasks include:

  • Preparing your website
  • Outlining your expectations
  • Deciding on speaker benefits
  • Putting the details in one place

Let's break each of these down a bit.

Prepare your website before you pitch

Your website doesn't need to be perfect before you pitch your summit speakers, but if you're making a lot of cold pitches, it's helpful to have a working version of your registration page up so speakers can get an idea of what your summit is all about and see that it's an event worth participating in.

This also gives the impression that you know what you’re doing and will provide an organized, professional event.

Outline the expectations you have for speakers

Take time to think about what you’ll need from speakers during the planning process. When will materials be due? Are they required to promote?

Figure out all of these details so you can include them in your pitch. That way, you'll be able to provide potential speakers with a realistic picture of what all is involved so they can make the best decision.

Decide on your speaker benefits

Now that we know what you need, what about your speakers? What are they going to get out of participating in your event?

Some examples include:

  • A speaker fee
  • An affiliate commission (of at least 40%)
  • Easy to complete requirements
  • A way to grow their email list
  • A chance to get in front of the perfect audience and interact with attendees

Let speakers know how they’ll benefit from participating in your summit and what they can expect from you.

Gather these details in one place

It’s helpful to put all of the above information on a speaker information page on your website. Use this page as a hub for speakers to get all the resources they'll need to promote the summit and create their presentations easily.

Brainstorm potential summit speakers

Creating a powerhouse speaker lineup can be intimidating, no matter how many summits you’ve hosted before. However, there are a few ways to make brainstorming speakers easy!

You don’t have to spend days upon days searching for people to pitch. Think smarter, not harder about this one. There are easy ways to find virtual summit speakers.  

For example:

  • Consider people you already know
  • Ask your audience
  • Look at who industry experts are following on social media
  • Check out speaker directories
  • Use Google, Pinterest, or YouTube

Pitch your speakers

Now that you have your speaker information page on your site, registration page mostly ready, and your list of go-to speakers - it’s time to send those pitches!

I like to pitch speakers in 3 rounds:

Round 1 includes the people I really want to include in my lineup that I know will say yes. It’s great for a confidence boost. You can then use the names of people you get through Round 1 as social proof for the rest of your pitches.

During Round 2, reach out to the rest of the people you’d really like to participate in the summit. Don’t be afraid to name-drop speakers who said “yes” during Round 1 to help encourage them to commit.

Last, Round 3 is there to fill any spots that you have remaining in your lineup or to pitch any big names you left out of Round 2. 

The way you pitch is important and will determine whether you get positive responses or get turned down. Within each pitch include:

  • a personal connection
  • background about your summit
  • the invitation to speak
  • what you'll need from them
  • how they'll benefit
  • next steps 
  • a reasonable due date for their response

Include enough information to look organized and on top of it, but not so much that it's overwhelming. Link to your speaker information page to help explain and outline it all for anyone who is interested.

Collect your speaker content

Once you have your speakers lined up, there’s a lot of material to collect from them.

There are two phases to this presentation collection process. Phase one includes gathering basic information such as their name, headshot, bio, and a website link. Phase two includes collecting their actual presentation material.

You must make this part easy to eliminate any bumps that may come up otherwise. I use Content Snare (affiliate link) to basically send a worksheet to my speakers that they can fill out with everything that’s needed. It even follows up with them automatically! Alternatively, you could use Airtable and send a form to get all of the information you need.

Give your speakers plenty of time to prepare and submit their items - at least 3 weeks!

But also know that no matter how much time you allow, many will be late anyway. To help eliminate late turn-ins, send several reminders leading up to the due date.

Keep your speakers organized

It can be hard to keep track of 20+ people and what is left to turn in. It's important to stay organized.

Use a spreadsheet to track your pitches, confirmed speakers, speaker information, and where you are in the process for each person. We walk through this entire process in my signature Summit in a Box® program, but it's important to keep track of more than you think you'll need to from the very beginning.

Finding summit speakers may seem simple on the surface, but there is a LOT that goes into the process. Get yourself prepared ahead of time to make this part of your summit prep as easy as possible. Now, go find your speakers!



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