One of the strongest moves you can make to elevate your career – and just as importantly, your professional image – is to appear at a conference as a panelist or a keynote speaker. Here’s what we look for at 20/20 Growth Conferences when selecting panelists.
1 Demonstrate industry knowledge. This may seem obvious. We all want to sit in front of experts if we’re gonna take a day out of our lives for professional growth. The knowledge you possess does NOT have to be your primary job. Maybe you do lab testing. You see we have a session on marketing. You are well versed in the legal limits they can and can’t advertise. That might make you an ideal panelist.
2 Search for “Call for panelist” and “Call for speakers” and use different words. If you’re in trucking, search those combos with the words “trucking” “shipping” “transport” “warehousing” and other industry words you can think of, particularly those of interest to you.
3 Demonstrate some humor. If you make me laugh, and the other person is staid, guess which one my audience wants me to put up on stage?
4 Pitch me. I love it when people reach out and say “Hey, I see you have this session on XYZ, I work in the area of XYZ and just wanted to see if you have openings on that panel?” I love this for a few reasons. First, either I do have an open space, or I don’t. If I don’t, I can add you to the back up list. If I do have an opening on that panel, BAM, you just completed a task for me. Second, and more importantly, you’ve demonstrated interest, which makes you much more likely to be enthusiastic and highly engaged – what my audience wants.
5 Volunteer to jump in last minute to fill in a no-show. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen. And in a pinch, we’re praying you answer the call. This could be your entree to the biggest conferences of all. Try it. It can’t hurt.
6 Look for newer, or even better, first time events. The stage may not be the grandest, but you’re more likely to get on stage at first time events. This is particularly helpful for first-time presenters looking to start a portfolio. And if it’s a success, and you’re at least half decent, they might invite you back.
7 Offer to sponsor. Don’t be afraid to be specific. “I will sponsor the main stage.” This allows you to have a say in the look and feel of the stage. You may want to upgrade the stools to plush chairs. With your company name behind you side by side with the event name, this could be advertising dollars well spent.
8 Start a portfolio. If you have ever held a microphone in front of more than two people, and you have a picture of it, put it in a pdf or slide deck about you. I know, your Mom said don’t brag about yourself. Tell Mom’s voice inside your head you’re doing it for the team. Mom also said be a team player.
If you do get a panelist slot, make sure to get a complete video, starting before you go on stage, filming you walking on stage, film the whole deal, and film yourself walking off. This is gold content you can use for years. At 20/20, we offer a package of edited video clips of panelists walking on the stage, listening at the session, and of course, at least one clip of them talking at the session.
Also have someone snap some still photos of you up on stage. Consider hiring a professional photog to follow you around all day. Those still photos will be content gold. It doesn’t matter if the audience is small, most of the pictures won’t show the audience. If you do have a huge audience, shoot a selfie from the stage with the crowd behind you. And take some pictures of the crowd.
Conferences can be a huge boon for your image and your company’s image. We’re always accepting panelist nominations at 20/20 Growth Conferences – including self-nominations.
Don’t be shy. Every day you grow as a leader in your industry and in your community. Offer yourself up to conference in your area today!