How to pitch to speak at an event (and mistakes to avoid)

March 11, 2022

What do event organisers look for when you pitch to speak at their event? And what’s a complete turn off? Find out from someone who’s booked hundreds of speakers.

Janet Murray Courageous Content Podcast Headshot

I’ve booked hundreds of speakers – for both on and offline events – in the business and marketing space.

And like most event organisers, I know exactly what I’m looking for (and what I’m not).

In this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast, I share my top tips for pitching yourself to speak at an event.

You can listen to the podcast or read the blog version below.

Here’s what I cover:

One of the hardest things as an event organiser is balancing quality with equity.

As I joked to someone recently, I think Courageous Content Live is amongst the only business/marketing events where keynotes get paid to speak (rather than the other way round).

But I’m hyper aware that not everyone has the resources to invest in public speaking training – and/or gets public speaking opportunities full stop.

At the same time, I don’t feel it’s fair on the audience to put someone in a keynote slot who isn’t experienced enough to deliver a top notch performance.

One thing I CAN do is offer opportunities to new/less experienced speakers – on shorter, more informal sessions (via my spotlight speaking slots).

And also cast my net wide for new talent – rather than rolling out the same old speakers you see at every business/marketing event.

Which is why I’ve recently launched a Call For Speakers for my Courageous Content Live event in November 2022. It’s happening in Newcastle on the 1 & 2 November.

And if you’re thinking of applying (or want some tips for pitching to speak at any event) here’s a few pointers:

How most prospective speakers get their pitch ‘wrong’

Most speaking pitches are self-serving i.e. the prospective speaker pitches a topic they feel will benefit them rather than the event audience.

So take time to understand the community the event organiser serves and consider how you can serve that audience.

You can do this by checking out their content. What kind of content are they creating? What kinds of topics are they covering?

In my case, my podcast and social media platforms are a good place to start.

Taking the time to do this will make your pitch stand out a mile (because most people simply don’t bother).

Why research is vital for a successful speaking pitch

You need to offer a topic that’s a great fit for the Courageous Content community. Have I covered your proposed topic before on the podcast or on my socials?

If not, there’s probably a good reason. Which means no amount of telling me I SHOULD cover it will change that (sorry!).

Instead, consider what you can offer that combines the topics I typically cover with your expertise?

A common (and avoidable) mistake to avoid when pitching to speak at an event

If you’re excited about the event, and want to be part of the community – go ahead and book your ticket (if you’re invited to be a keynote speaker, we’ll refund you).

Even if you can’t, please don’t TELL me you’ll only come if you’re booked to speak (and yes, people really do that!).

As an event organiser, there’s no bigger turn-off than hearing someone gush about how brilliant your event sounds, and how excited they feel about being part of it, only to see red at the suggestion they might buy a ticket and be part of that community.

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