Your Speakers' Role in Promotion and Pressuring Them to Promote

It is hard to host a summit that skyrockets your email list without speaker promotion. But it's not your speakers' responsibility to make your summit successful.

It is hard to host a profitable summit that skyrockets your email list without speaker promotion. Like, really hard. Maybe even impossible if you don't have a ton of money to throw into paid ads.

But here's the thing...it's not your speakers' responsibility to make your summit successful.

It is yours.

A lot of speakers will promote your event at the last minute or even as it's going on. And if they don't...so what? Is it truly worth ruining a relationship over?

Reframe the way you look at their role in the success of your event. To help, let's go over...

  • two directions summit hosts take when speakers aren't promoting,
  • why the blame game and putting on the pressure isn't okay,
  • and what to do instead!

Pressuring Speakers to Promote

I know first-hand how frustrating it is when speakers don’t promote. About 5 days before my 2021 summit began, I woke up at 3am feeling anxious about the speakers who weren’t promoting. So I get it! It's disappointing and stressful.

You’re trying to hit certain numbers or goals that you’ve set for your summit. It probably also feels unfair that some speakers are going to hard to spread the word, but others aren't doing a single thing.

But, no matter what, is it fair to send emails to your speakers blaming them and pressuring them to promote?

When you have those feelings of frustration and blame, you can do one of two things:

  1. Play the blame game - Blame your speakers, tell them it’s their fault, and put all of the responsibility on them.
  2. Be more reflective - Acknowledge something isn’t going well and reflect on what you could’ve done wrong. Look inwardly first, see what action YOU can take, and then encourage and support your speakers. Take ownership and control of the situation.

Why it’s not okay to pressure speakers

Some summit "experts" teach that the first route is the correct one, so I get why hosts do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. If that’s you, give yourself some grace.

But around here, we’re all about feel-good experiences that benefit everybody, even if that means sacrificing ourselves sometimes.

Keep a few things in mind when you're feeling frustrated about your speakers not promoting:

  • You don’t know what’s going on in your speaker’s world. Maybe they had full intentions to promote, and something came up in their personal life.
  • You don’t know their audience. Maybe their audience won’t respond well to your summit, and they know it. Because of that, they aren't going to send email blasts to people who won't respond.
  • You don’t know their comfort level with promotion. Some speakers create their own new product barely tell their audience about it. If they aren’t comfortable promoting their own offers, they certainly won't feel comfortable sending multiple emails about your summit. And that's okay.
  • You don’t know how many summits they’re in. There are so many summits happening right now, especially if you’re targeting an audience like course creators or service providers, and there’s a core group of speakers in those spaces who are frequently pitched. If they emailed their audience for every single summit they’re in, they’re not going to have an audience left. 
  • Yes, we set up our summit so our speakers succeed, but YOU are the one who will benefit the most. This is especially the case if you’re going to launch something on the backend that they’re not getting commission for. You can’t expect speakers to go all out to support your dream - especially if you don’t have a relationship with them.
  • A lot of speakers don't get much of a return for speaking, let alone promoting. I know the speakers of my summits get hundreds of leads and I’m paying thousands of dollars in affiliate commission, but that’s not typical. If you’re not paying speakers, you need to have the right expectations.
  • Check yourself. If you want to hit specific numbers with your summit so YOUR funnel works check yourself for how much pressure you’re putting on other people to make that happen. It’s YOUR success, not theirs.

What Can You Do Instead?

So we've acknowledged that it’s okay to feel frustrated when your speakers aren’t promoting, and you know not to play the blame game.

What can you do instead?

  1. Take the YOU out of it. If you aren't hitting YOUR numbers, the speakers don’t need to know that. Instead, position it differently in your mind about how you can do more for their audience and serve them better. Make it so it's not all about you.
  2. Schedule a collaboration opportunity with speakers with larger audiences. This works best if you can do it early on with speakers with the perfect audience. Reach out individually and schedule a collaboration with them. Take the initiative to go out and support them and make sure they’ll promote naturally through this opportunity.
  3. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Encourage your speakers if they aren’t promoting as much as you want. It’s okay to feel frustrated, upset, and disappointed, but then it’s your job to encourage and support them.
  4. Look at your starting steps. Go back to the very beginning of your summit planning and see if you can identify any issues. Maybe you don’t have the right speakers, your summit isn’t positioned well, you didn’t give them what they need to promote, or they’re not feeling excited or encouraged by you.
  5. Take ownership of the event. This is your event and your responsibility, not your speakers'. When you’re feeling these emotions, look at yourself and what you can do differently. What actions can you take? Look at how you can maximize the experience with the time you have left.

Krista’s Example

To give you an example, here’s what I did when I felt frustrated that speakers weren’t promoting.

I woke up 1.5 weeks into the promotion period feeling anxious about the speakers who weren't promoting. In all honesty, it was less about me and more about feeling bad for the speakers who were going above and beyond.

I let myself sit with the more negative feelings for a bit (I am human, after all), and then started brainstorming what action I could take.

The first thing I did was email all of my speakers. There was no blaming involved and no negativity. Instead, offered encouragement and support and gave a quick update on how the summit numbers were looking so far.

From there, I sent another email to speakers who hadn't promoted yet. But again, there wasn't any blaming or negativity involved.

I positioned my email to include things like:

  • Here’s something specific I love about your presentation.
  • I noticed you weren’t promoting when other speakers are going hard.
  • I want to see if I can help.
  • Here is some custom material I made just for you and your audience.
  • No worries if you can’t promote!

My goal was to show support, remind them that other people were working hard, make promotion super easy, but then remove any pressure. I'd rather keep the friendship than have them feel forced into promoting.

Value Your Speakers

Even if a speaker isn't promoting, show them that you value them as a person more than you value their promotion. 

Also, let this be a lesson to you as a speaker. Next time you're pitched for a summit, consider whether you’re willing to go hard for this event like you’d want your speakers to go hard for you. If the answer is no, either tell the host you can’t participate or say you’d love to but set the promotion expectation correctly from the beginning so they’re not feeling the same way you feel right now.

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It is hard to host a summit that skyrockets your email list without speaker promotion. But it's not your speakers' responsibility to make your summit successful.It is hard to host a summit that skyrockets your email list without speaker promotion. But it's not your speakers' responsibility to make your summit successful.
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