EYN#032 - 7 Tips To Get Chosen To Speak At Events

May 07, 2024

Speaking at conferences and events is a great way to help people. It allows you share the things you've learnt to a big group. It also builds your industry reputation and career. Win win!


But it's hard to get selected to speak at events, especially the more prestigious ones. Here's my playbook to get you selected:


  • Actually Apply To Speak
  • Plan In Advance
  • Choose A Relevant Subject
  • Craft A Great Title
  • Write A Compelling Session Description
  • Create A Brilliant Bio
  • Get To Know The Event Owners


Let's dig into each one.


Actually Apply To Speak

If you don't apply you'll never get chosen. Most big events have a "Call For Papers" inviting people to apply to speak. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, so actually do it! You got this.

The worst that can happen is you get rejected. So what!? I've been rejected from loads of events. I've also spoken at loads of events.


Plan In Advance

Most Call for Papers happen months before the event. So you need to apply early.

This is hard. To submit your submission you need to have written at least a title and session description. But you haven’t created the presentation yet, so how do you write the session description.

What’s more that description needs to match what you say in your session. If you deliver something different to the session description you haven’t matched expectations and that always backfires.

The answer, you have to plan in advance. You need to have planned enough about the session to write the session description.


Choose A Relevant Subject

Nobody wants to listen to a session on 15 year old tech that everybody already knows how to use.

Choose a topic that resonates with the mission of the event. Choose a topic that is relevant to the audience. Choose a topic that's new to people and piques interest. Choose a topic that solves a pain everyone has.

If you’ve chosen a poor topic you’re onto a loser right from the get go.


Craft A Great Title

The best titles are punchy, interesting and descriptive. The audience know what they’re going to get from the session and it's easy to read on a mobile device. Here’s some examples I liked from recent conferences:

Transforming Cybersecurity With Generative AI
Beyond The Hype: The Reality Of Implementing TechX
Rise Of The Humans: An Alternative Narrative of AI Adoption

Create a bit of a hook, it needs to be interesting. But then it needs to describe what you’re going talk about. Don't go too crazy, but give it a bit of energy.


Write A Compelling Session Description

You need a punchy paragraph that describes what your presentation will be about. A great flow is:

  • Pain Or Opportunity
  • Key Points You Will Cover
  • Outcome

Here's an example:


Beyond The Hype: The Reality Of Implementing TechX

Everyone’s talking about TechX, but no one knows how to deploy it successfully. In this session we’ll cover when you should use TechX, how to set it up, and a few gotchas on things that can go wrong. You’ll leave this session with the knowledge and resources to start your successful journey with TechX.

In this example we started off with a good title. Then the first sentence covered a bit of pain and need. People don’t know the reality of TechX. Then into the key themes. Finally an outcome. Punchy session description done.


Create A Brilliant Bio

Lots of people hate writing these, but they're a necessary evil. You need to build a bit of credibility so that people will want to listen to you.

Write it in the 3rd person. I think a great format is:


  • What do you do now?
  • What's your background?
  • What are you passionate about?


Write a sentence on each and you're done. Here's a bio I regularly use:

Bio: Ben Pearce is a coach, keynote speaker, podcast host and founder of Elevated You. He spent 20 years at Microsoft, 10 years as a deep technical consultant and 10 years leading high performing teams. He's a regular voice in the community and focuses on developing the Human Skills of people in Tech World.


Get To Know The Event Organiser

This is the secret weapon that trumps everything else.

If you have built a great relationship with the event organiser, everything else gets easier. You move from a faceless session description, to a trusted person they want to work with.

My first big break at a conference came because I got to know the track owner at the conference the year before. Get to know the decision makers and everything gets easier.

Maybe a "No" moves to "Could you modify the session to this?". Every conference I want to speak at, I strive to build a relationship with the selection committee.

Well there we go. Get out there, help people and build your reputation.

Hope this helps



Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  • Podcast:  The latest episode is " Technical Mentoring" with Jeff Stokes. Check it out on the Elevated You website,  Apple, Spotify, YouTube or Amazon Podcasts.
  • Technical Storytelling Essentials: Accelerate your career, increase your impact and influence people.  Affordably priced, world-class course digital course for individuals.
  • Technical Storytelling for Organisations: Programs designed to increase the impact of your team.  Inspire, develop and motivate your team to influence key stakeholders and generate action with your customers.