Can I Require a Certain Email List Size from Virtual Summit Speakers?

summit speakers values Sep 07, 2021

There's a strategy where virtual summit hosts pitch speakers and mention that a list size of at least 5000 subscribers is required. But is it okay to do?

In case you haven't experienced this yet for yourself, there's a pretty widespread strategy where summit hosts pitch you to speak at their summit, and then at the bottom of the pitch, they mention that you need to have 5000 people on your email list to participate.  

Let's break down whether it's okay to require a certain email list size from virtual summit speakers and why.

Virtual Summit Speaker List Sizes

Let's just get right to it, huh? The short answer is: no, you should not have a list size requirement.

I’ve received that pitch many times in the last few years and will share my personal standpoint. Before I had 5000 people on my email list, those pitches made me feel like garbage. I was so excited for the opportunity, flattered by the things the host was saying in the beginning of the email, and then it all came crashing down when they placed my entire worth on my email list size.

Even now that my list size is well over 5000, I still don't respond well. To these hosts, I am a number. I'm not seen as someone who can bring value or who is worth building a relationship with.

The Flip Side of this

What’s ironic is how many summit hosts freak out over things like:

  • needing to provide specific data to their summit sponsors.
  • having no idea if their events are even going to work.
  • a speaker asking how many sign-ups are expected.

And yet these are the same people demanding that their speakers have a relatively large list.

But there’s a more important angle to talk about here…

These are PEOPLE, not email lists

One of my biggest values in business has to do with the way that I treat people. And I'm guessing a lot of you resonate with that because otherwise I would have chased you away with all of my empathy and caring a long time ago.

Pitching someone for your summit, but only wanting them for their list size, is the absolute opposite of valuing a human. You’re placing 100% of their value on their email list.

With that being said, only pitch people that you truly value for who they are as a person and a business owner, as well as the kind of value they can bring to your summit.

What To Do Instead

If you’re listening and thought this was the right way to do things because that’s how you’ve been taught, here’s what to do instead.  

The most important piece of advice I have is: Don’t pay attention to audience size.

I’ve never looked at audience size and my most recent summit brought in $92,000 just in all-access pass sales.

Instead of worrying about audience size, pay attention to:

  • Who has the same audience as your summit?
  • Who can connect with that audience?
  • Who can deliver value on a topic that your summit audience needs to hear about?

Everything after that is going to even out. If you have people who can provide value, connect, and give awesome presentations, then nothing else matters.

And a lot of the time, speakers with big email lists aren't even willing to promote. The people who go hardest are the ones that are still dedicated to connecting with new audience members, getting themselves out there, and making new connections with summit hosts.

When it’s OK to ask for list size

There is an instance that asking a list size is okay, as long as it isn’t mandatory for them to answer. If you need the information for sponsorship purposes, you can ask speakers for their list size as an intake question after they’re already on board for the summit. Make it clear it’s not to judge them, but for data purposes only and to determine the reach of your summit.

Value the Person

Overall, stop requiring a certain email list size and value people for who they are.

If you get a pitch from someone requiring a certain list size, send them on over to this episode!


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