Why You're Struggling to Land Speakers for Your Virtual Summit

summit speakers Jul 25, 2023

Struggling to land speakers for your virtual summit? Tune in for the 5 reasons you're struggling and how to fix it in your next round of pitches.

Everyone goes into the process of hosting a summit with their fingers crossed that it's going to be a raging success.

You envision the speakers jumping on board. You can feel the excitement as you imagine seeing the number of registrations grow. And you can see the sales notifications popping up over and over.

Buuuut...what about when it doesn't go that way?

The truth is, sometimes summits aren't the raging success you were hoping for and there are many different points in the process where things can go a little haywire.

So today, we're kicking off a 4-part series that will break down the most common points in the summit-hosting process where things go wrong and do some troubleshooting. If you're in the thick of it, you'll find some tips you can implement right away and if you have a summit coming up, you'll be able to keep it all in mind to hopefully avoid any issues.

Today we'll dive into why you're struggling to land speakers for your virtual summit, which can take the wind out of your sales really quickly - especially if it's your first summit! 

In this series, we'll also cover...

But, I promise, if you're dealing with this there are things you can do to fix it and in the end, it all pays off. For example, we helped one Accelerator client who had sent out 80 pitches and only got 6 responses back. She was feeling pretty defeated and could have given up, but all it took was for me to look at the pitch, suggest changes, offer tips on how to follow up with speakers after pitching them, and boom - her spots were filled, and more!

Listen to the episode

Prefer to listen to this post instead? Use the links below to listen on your preferred podcast player:

By the way, if you're in the mode of learning all you can about pitching and managing summit speakers, we have a curated playlist available featuring our top speaker-related tips and strategies.

Why You’re Struggling To Land Speakers For Your Virtual Summit

Let's dive into why you're struggling to land speakers for your virtual summit. 

Is it because I'm not enough of an influencer?

If you're having a hard time getting speakers lined up, your mind will instantly want to tell you that you're not a "big enough deal" for speakers to say yes. In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.

If you're just starting out, and you have this idea in your head that you're going to fail because you're not a big enough deal, then you're setting yourself up for that to be your reality. But I want to encourage you that is not at all the case.

A little story about a big-deal client

I'm going to tell you a little story of a client we worked with who was a big deal - a blue checkmark on Instagram before it was a thing you could pay for, multiple highly successful businesses, (some of which are household names)...a big deal!

In their speaker pitches, we were able to say things like “they have over 1 million email subscribers” and give all of their impressive credentials. But in the end, we had to pitch 88 speakers to fill 25 spots.

So being a big deal does not have a single thing to do with it.

I started as a nobody.

On the other hand, when I pitched speakers for my first summit, I was nobody. People didn't know who I was. And, sure, there were a few pitches I sent that didn't get responses, but I was able to fill my 25 spots with no problem.

We have had students start from scratch and be able to fill all their speaker spots on the first go-round. Being a big deal does not have anything to do with this.

So with out of the way...what does?

The real reason: You sent a bad pitch

The reality of it is, you can be a nobody or a huge influencer, but if you're sending out "bad" pitches, you're going to struggle to get the types of responses you were hoping for.

Here's what can make a "bad" pitch:

1. Poor summit positioning

I preach the importance of summit positioning all the time and here's one example of where it can be detrimental to your results.

With poor positioning, someone who doesn't know you will open your email and see a vague summit audience and/or topic that they're not excited about and send it straight to the trash. It might sound harsh, but if they don't feel lit up and connected to the goal of the summit, why would they want to be a part of it?

When someone pitches me for something the first thing I do, regardless of who it is, is look at whether the audience and topic are relevant and exciting to me. A lot of the time, they're too broad, which makes them an easy no. 

So, the positioning of your summit is a really big deal. If you miss the mark, speaker pitches will be the first place you find that out.

2. No personal connection

The next reason your pitch may not get the response you want is if there's no personal connection.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I send cold pitches all the time, but sending super impersonal pitches to people you've never talked to before usually isn't going to work well.

Feeling drawn to you is one of the easiest ways to make people want to say yes because they want to be a part of what you're doing. That part is nearly impossible to recreate when there's no personal connection.

If you do need to send cold pitches, be sure to...

  • Do your homework - look into what this person is all about and come up with a clear answer as to why you want THEM at your summit
  • Consider doing outreach on social media before sending a full pitch email
  • Customize the pitch to make it clear that you're not doing a copy/paste to everyone you can find

Overall, make sure your pitch is as customized and personal as possible.

3. Something is unclear

The next reason you'll struggle to land speakers is if something in your pitch is unclear. People are not going to commit to something if they have a bunch of unanswered questions.

Here are the key things to keep in mind:

  1. Tell them who the summit is for and what it's about. Avoid sending a vague pitch that requires someone to reply before you share the relevant information. Be clear about the name of your event, when it is, who it's for, and what it's about. 
  2. Be clear about what you're asking of them. Experienced business owners are not going to agree to something when they don't know what they're agreeing to. They're also not likely to take the time to ask for more information. Because of that, you need to share alllllll the information up front. Let them know right away what exactly you are asking of them.
  3. Let them know what's in it for them. Once the foundations are out of the way, let your potential speakers know why they should be interested. What is the benefit for them? Why should they say yes?

4. You’re asking for too much

The next thing that's going to make you struggle to land speakers is asking for too much. This can be taken in a couple of different ways.

First, you're asking for too much in total.

For example, if you pitch someone you don't know and you're requiring both a pre-recorded presentation and some sort of live session, you'll get a lot of no's. 

Another example of this is asking someone to present on a topic they've never covered before, which means they have to make a totally new presentation and strategy around that presentation. That could feel too big for someone. Make sure you're pitching people topics they already talk about.

Second, you might be requiring too much promotion. If someone pitches me and wants me to send multiple solo emails and do all this extra stuff, I'm not going to do it because I don't know for sure they're going to put on a high-quality event. I don't want to commit to putting that in front of my audience multiple times. Be conscious about what you're asking and what your speakers’ role in promotion is.

If you made pitches, you had extra requirements, and you didn't get a great response, that's likely part of why.

5. Asking for Too Much Too Soon

Another side of this is asking for too much too soon or making it difficult for speakers to agree.

For example, maybe you're requiring your speakers to get on a call if they want to participate or you're asking them for too much information right away. Those things will decrease the likelihood that a speaker will be a part of your event.

Make sure you're making the “yes”, really, really easy. You can always send the next steps later.

When It All Comes Together

While this might feel like a long list of things not to do, in reality, they're fairly easy fixes.

When you...

  • have solid positioning
  • clearly lay out who the summit is for and what it’s about
  • highlight the benefits of participating
  • make a personal connection
  • have reasonable expectations

then you're going to get a great success rate with your speaker pitches!

If you're struggling right now, take the time to go back through this list and see which changes you can make. And don't be afraid to reach back out to people you've already pitched to give them an update and see if they'd like to jump in with the new information!

Next, let's jump into why no one signed up for your virtual summit. 



View related episodes >>

Pin it for later!

Struggling to land speakers for your virtual summit? Tune in for the 5 reasons you're struggling and how to fix it in your next round of pitches.Struggling to land speakers for your virtual summit? Tune in for the 5 reasons you're struggling and how to fix it in your next round of pitches.

50% Complete

Free: Virtual Summit Prep Timeline

Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.