Behind the Summit #3: Preparing to Pitch Speakers

It's tempting to send your speaker pitches as soon as they come to mind, but there's work to do first. I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes look at what all I did!

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to send out your speaker pitches as soon as they come to mind, but that’s not the best way to go about it. 

Last week I shared all about my speaker brainstorming process that I use to strategically determine which potential speakers to reach out to, but there are still a few more steps to go before sending out those speaker pitches.

Between finalizing my speaker pitch list and sending out the emails, there are a few things I like to do:

  • Prepare the entire speaker onboarding process. (Things will get messy on your end if you don’t have this set up ahead of time.)
  • Put together a speaker info page with all the info they could possibly need, easily accessible in one place. (Without this, prepare to answer the same questions over and over again.)
  • Create as much speaker material as possible. (This helps to give a good first impression and assure your speakers that you’ll provide everything they need to make it easy for them.)
  • Make a plan for ongoing speaker communication. (You don’t want to be scrambling to keep up with who’s been told what, and what may have slipped through the cracks.)

Keep in mind that this is my 6th round of this summit, so it might look a bit different than if you're hosting a 1st-time event. I can move a little faster because I'm just going in and tweaking things versus setting it all up from scratch.

Let’s dive in!

Get Organized First

Even though my potential speaker list was ready to go, I like to have everything I possibly can ready before I pitch speakers for a few reasons:

  1. The event will look more professional, put together, and be taken more seriously. This is especially important for anyone I pitch who has not seen the event around before. One benefit I have since it’s my 6th time hosting this summit is that a lot of people recognize it when they get pitched. But not everyone has heard of it before!  Having everything put together and organized gives a great first impression for those people.
  2. Any questions speakers have are already answered for them. Having a speaker info page ready to go before pitching makes things so much easier for me and my speakers. If they do email and ask a question, a lot of the time we can give them the answer and then point them to where they can go for more information and where they can find answers to other questions that might come up.
  3. There isn't time for a speaker to lose excitement after they agree. By having everything ready ahead of time, I can send them the next steps right away and keep that excitement going. We are ready to respond the same day they agree and continue to build on the excitement they have and the commitment they just made. 
  4. Speakers can dive into their presentations right away. If someone wants to dive in and create their presentation right after agreeing to speak, they can do that. The last thing I want is for my speakers to feel like they're waiting on me to be able to get started. I like to have everything that I can ready in case they want to be way ahead on everything.

After this week, everything the speakers need ahead of time is ready to go. The only thing missing is the promotional materials, but because we pitch our speakers with plenty of lead time before promotion starts, they won't need them for a while. 

Update Allllllll the Things

Preparing for pitching was the biggest thing on my calendar this week. Things move faster because I'm updating things from last year's event rather than starting from scratch, but there are still quite a few updates to make.

My focus this week was updating the things that had to do with speaker pitches.

Speaker Information Page

The first thing I did was update everything on the speaker information page.

This included things like:

  • Dates
  • Speaker benefits
  • Wording
  • New resources

I started with this page because it's nearly as useful for me as it is for the speakers! When I update the other pages and templates, I can refer back to this page.

Speaker Pitch Template

The next thing I updated was our speaker pitch template. It was nice to have the speaker information page ready because I could pull from that. In our pitch template, I listed out our new benefits for speakers and things that had changed since last year. Here are the main changes I made to the template:

Limited Call Availability

I made some changes to my call availability because unlike last year, I have my baby home full-time and my 4-year-old in daycare only 12 hours a week. Because of my limited time, I removed a call link that I usually include in the pitch email. Up until now, at the end of my pitch email, I’d included a link to schedule a call if they had questions.  I don’t have time for that this time around.

Encouraged Prerecorded Presentations

I also added extra encouragement for them to prerecord presentations rather than ask for an interview. Usually, in my pitch template, I let them know what’s required of them for presentations and offer the option of an interview.

I left the option in for a few people but changed the wording to say that prerecorded presentations were preferred. If someone really wants an interview, I’ll make it work, but I'm not encouraging it this time around.

Removed the option to propose new topic ideas.

The last thing I changed to our pitch template was the removal of an invite to suggest their own topic. This year, I strategically mapped out what topics I want to be covered. I let my speakers know that their presentation topic was strategically planned rather than opening it up for new topic ideas.

All-Access Pass Contributions

From there, I updated all our speaker material to make contributing to the all-access pass sound more appealing. Our speakers who contribute a valuable bonus get hundreds of extra email addresses added to their list so I wanted to be sure to highlight that. We were able to use testimonials from our past speakers to show the value of contributing. 

Speaker Opt-In Guide

I also created a new guide for speakers on how to make the most out of participating and contributing a bonus.

When going through feedback from last year so many speakers commented on the sales they made right away, but one stood out! This speaker said they offer services, not products, and didn’t know what to contribute.

I wanted to be sure each speaker had the opportunity to contribute to the Designer Power Pack, so I created this new guide and mentioned and linked it in all the places I could.

My goal with this guide was to:

  • make it as easy as possible for them.
  • remove as many questions as I could.
  • make sure they benefit from it, too.

We'll see what the speakers think about but, I'm hoping it makes things super clear so they can see how to get the most opt-ins and sales from being a part of the summit. And, it also gave that extra push for them to contribute a bonus to our all-access pass.

Another reason I did this was to stand out from the crowd of other similar summits for designers. I wanted my attendees to have new and relevant bonuses they hadn't already seen somewhere else.

Some sections that I included in this guide are:

  • Collecting the most possible email addresses from their presentation.
  • Making their all-access pass contribution super valuable to attendees.
  • How to make these things convert as well as possible
  • The types of bonuses that convert well, and which ones don't work so well.
  • How they can see immediate sales from their presentations and contributions.
  • An invitation to brainstorm with me if they need help, so we can make sure that whatever they decide on converts well.

I’m a big fan of this guide! It even includes my Voxer and Instagram for speakers to reach out and brainstorm or ask questions as they’re trying to figure out what to contribute.

My template and exact guide are in Summit in Box®, so check the Resources course if you’re a student!

Presentation Guidelines

Next, I made some minor updates to our presentation guidelines and speaker checklists:

2-Minute Pitches

In the past, our presentation guidelines allowed speakers a 3-minute pitch at the end. This year, it’s bumped down to 2 minutes.

Speaker Checklist Updates

For the speaker checklist, I updated the dates so our speakers know when everything is due and when big things are happening, like promotion and the summit dates.

I also simplified the checklist by deleting a few things that weren't really necessary. This made the checklist look way less overwhelming, and also gave us room to add in the new Opt-In Guide.

Check out my tips to get summit speaker content on time.

Speaker Basic Information Form

From there, I made updates to the basic information form that we send once a speaker agrees to speak. With this form, we try to get as much information as we can from them right off the bat so we can finalize the registration page, make our speaker pages, make our schedule, and make graphics.

I made 6 major changes to the form this year:

  1.  Sign the Speaker Agreement – The first field of the form is now a required checkbox for them to click after they sign the speaker agreement. We can’t use their information if they haven’t signed the contract.
  2.  Add your pronouns – A new field I added this year asking speakers to share their pronouns so we can include them with their speaker profiles.
  3.  Additional links – Another new addition is asking speakers for 2 more links besides their website that they’d want to include on the Meet the Speaker page. This is typically a freebie and/or way to connect on social media.
  4.  Causes they’re passionate about – I always donate a portion of profits after the summit to a cause that I’ve selected. This year, I asked speakers to share causes that are important to them so I can include the top ones in my donations.
  5.  All-access pass contributions – I updated the wording to point out how beneficial it can be for the speakers to contribute to the all-access pass and also asked if they'd be willing to lead any live calls for all-access pass holders.
  6.  Remove their signature offer question – Last year I tried something new by asking what their signature offer was and putting it into a guide for attendees. I never heard feedback either way if anyone liked it, so I took that out.

Contract Template

New this year is a flat payment for all speakers, plus their affiliate commissions, so I added that to the speaker contract.

Calendar Availability

I updated my Acuity calendar for interview availability. It’s not a lot, but there are some openings there for them.

Clean Up Content Snare

Kate, my assistant, is cleaning up past Content Snare requests and will archive all of our old stuff so that we have a clean slate for all of these new speakers.

Clean Up the Promo Material Folder

And then, Kate’s also clearing out our promo material folder. Since we don't have those resources ready yet, I don't want someone going to our speaker information page to grab promo materials and find outdated graphics.

We haven’t started creating the new promo graphics yet, so Kate cleaned out all the old ones and added a note to the top of all the swipe copy so speakers know that it hasn’t been updated yet.

Registration Page

The last major change I made was some updates to our registration page. I like to have it as complete as possible before reaching out to speakers so I can share it with them. Again, Kate’s clearing out last year’s speakers and putting placeholder images in there and we’ll fill them in as they agree.

Updated Copy

This is also the first year that I went through and made changes to the registration page copy other than just swapping out the dates. I treated it like I was doing a registration page critique for a Summit In A Box® student, and the copy is much more direct.

I changed our tagline for the first time ever, and I think it's so much better. I don't know why I stuck with what I had before for so long!

Miscellaneous Changes for This Year

Those are all the changes that I made to get ready to pitch speakers. It was a lot of little details. Next, I worked on a few more changes to how I wanted to run the summit this time.

Reusing presentations from last year

Last year we had a series of presentations called “Let’s Do Better” to help designers be more diverse, inclusive, and eco-friendly. My idea for this year is to have a page of those presentations be available immediately after someone registers for the summit. My hope is to give them some excitement and something to dive into and start implementing right away.

My contract from last year does allow me to do that, but I still reached out and asked the speakers for their permission and offered the same speaking fee.

AAP package

The next thing I did was brainstorm my all-access pass package. I don't change my all-access pass much, but I like to brainstorm what I could do differently and ask myself:

  • Is there anything that didn't work?
  • Is there anything new I could add this year?

I wanted to add more fun, interactive elements because there's always a core group of people who just really want the connection that comes with the summit. I think it’d be awesome for speakers to lead hot seats, critiques, process audits, review proposals, or something different like that. I included a question to the speakers on the basic information form to gauge their interest in doing these.

Speaker email communication

The last thing I did this week was plan my speaker email communication. I’d put this off a few weeks because I was stressed about it. Then I remembered I have the templates and email scheduler in Summit In A Box®! I put in a few dates, and it told me when to send which emails, making it much easier.

Speaker Email Perks

I got the idea for this while sponsoring and speaking in Eden Fried's Rebel Boss Summit. Her speaker updates have little goodies hidden in the emails for the speakers, which I think is so fun! 

For example, when she asks speakers to do something in her emails, it might say read “this” or do “that” and if you’re one of the first 5 people, you’ll get a Starbucks gift card!

I love it! I might add something like that because it:

  • rewards speakers for being awesome
  • encourages speakers to read the emails
  • can make them pay more attention to the most important action step

Speaker Email Schedule

My email schedule includes five emails, and I will send mostly the same emails as I have in the past without many changes. I’ll be able to grab the emails I sent last year from my sent folder in my inbox, tweak them, and send them again this year.

Speaker Matchmaking

This year, I want to try speaker matchmaking where they submit some information about themselves and their audience and what kind of collaborations they're looking for. Then, we’ll match them up with another speaker.

All The Small Details

This week had lots of small, detailed tasks to prepare for pitching speakers, but we were able to build on the things we've done previously to make it go faster. If it’s your first time, you’ll have foundations to build as well. Although, if you have Summit In A Box®, it’ll make the process much faster and easier for you!

We’ll have the next cart open in May, but you could check out the masterclass to learn more and get a private invite to join right away!

Give Speakers A Great Experience

My action step for this week is to brainstorm how you can give speakers a great experience. And that doesn’t mean you have to pay them! How can you make it organized? How can you keep them excited? How can you love on them a little more?  


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