This post was provided by credPR, one of MBA’s key partners.


Looking to take that next step forward to increase positive exposure for you and your company? It may be time to take the stage.


Speaking at conferences can be a key tactic to ensuring your brand gets in front of target audiences that matter the most. Yet, building a speaking program calls for more than just relying on your ideas alone to bring results.


We’ve compiled a checklist of six essential steps to consider before getting on stage and taking the mic.


  1. Define what success looks like.


Speaking engagements are not “one size fits all.”


Before you put any effort into reaching out to conferences, ask yourself, “What am I looking to gain from a speaking program?” Whether you’re out to attract customers, boost recruitment, or build awareness, it is important to plan and set goals at the beginning to understand where speaking fits into your overall communication strategy. Defining how you measure success will help you focus on which events are the perfect fit.


  1. Do all of your homework.


Research is vital to making sure you find the right event for you. Be aware of top conferences for your industry to ensure you’re out speaking among other known thought leaders and brands within your space. Beyond that, there are thousands of events occurring throughout the world each year, and this number will only multiply as trends and new industries continue to emerge. From three-day conferences and trade shows, to three-hour meetups and workshops, you can find events happening in various locations that may be the perfect fit—or perhaps far from it. In addition, be mindful of past speakers, content, and audience; sometimes even the top conferences won’t make sense for your business.


  1. Set an alarm and mark your calendar.


So, you’ve found the perfect event—but it’s a month away and the call for presentations closed late last year. Most conferences have at least a six-month lead time for speaker submissions, depending on the event organizers and industry. Some events have rolling deadlines or informal ways of putting forth a speaker for consideration, but many have a process with strict deadlines. Tracking dates and staying on top of open calls for speakers will become critical in the day-to-day pursuit of the perfect speaking opportunity.


Friendly tip: our research shows the seasonality of events sees three peaks throughout the year for submission deadlines in March, July, and November. While this may change over time, it’s helpful to ensure your timeline for speaking also aligns with the timeline of when event organizers are sourcing speakers.


  1. Give event organizers a reason to say “yes.”


Your submission form should be about more than simply putting your name in the hat. Put yourself in the event organizer’s shoes—competitive conferences such as SXSW and Cannes Lions result in organizers sifting through hundreds of speaker submissions day after day. Bring your best self to the table by making sure to highlight all notable credentials that set you apart from other contenders.


Think about ways to tailor your bio to align with the caliber of speakers the event is looking for, and customize your session title and description so it will resonate with the target audience. When crafting your session proposal, remember to focus on your ideas and not your business, as submissions coming across as too promotional have no likelihood of making it onto the final agenda.


  1. Bring your A-game on and off the stage.


Speaking engagements demand you are as good in person as you are on paper. Make sure to polish your LinkedIn, website, social media accounts, and gather past speaking videos or contributed articles showcasing your thought leadership.


If you want to increase your odds of having your presentation resonate with the audience, polish your public speaking skills and combat nervous behaviors with confidence to develop a solid comfort level when presenting. The more comfortable you are, the more natural it’ll come across on stage.


At the end of your session, make sure to ask for feedback and start building relationships with event organizers. Observe and be aware of your strengths as a speaker, and where there is room for improvement.


  1. Commit and continue.


Speaking engagements aren’t just about stepping on stage once—treat every engagement as a stepping stone for the next. As you commit to speaking at conferences, develop a consistent system for tracking and maintaining awareness of deadlines for submissions, prep calls, and presentation slides, to make every engagement work toward your broader goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your reputation as a thought leader.


Ready to increase your speaking presence? Success starts with an idea—and can end with applause. cred works with clients across a variety of industries to help build speaker programs. Get in touch to see if they can help boost your thought leadership.


About the Author

Asia Camagong is a Senior Associate at cred. cred is a specialized communications agency dedicated to owning the events space through speaker management and event management. With a variety of clients ranging from some of the biggest names in tech to small and mighty startups, cred is on a mission to create environments that inspire and encourage thought leaders to own the stage, speak their truth, and share the mic.