How To Write a Winning Speaking Engagement Submission

Stan O'Neill
February 6, 2024

B2B tech has numerous high-profile conferences that allow industry thought leaders to share their hard-won insights on new technologies, key trends and industry projections. However, as with any PR and communications discipline, there is an art to crafting and submitting a winning speaking engagement submission.  

It isn’t enough to copy and paste thinly veiled company messaging into a conference’s online form and click submit. Read below for actionable tips learned from our experiences successfully positioning clients for speaking engagements, including RSA. These tips ensure your company’s thought leader has the best odds of sharing their perspective in the limelight.

Research Your Target Conference

As with media relations, one size does not fit all for submitting to speaking engagements. You must tailor your submission to the conference’s specifications, requiring extensive research regarding key trends, audience expertise and yearly themes. By catering to a conference’s specifications, you provide value to conference attendees and judges, improving your chances of acceptance.

Certain conferences even publish the previous year’s winning submissions, providing you with a free blueprint to success. For example, Engage PR successfully positioned one of our clients on the biggest stage in cybersecurity: RSA. This submission required deep research on relevant trends and strict adherence to the conference’s preferred format and submission style. By modeling our submission on previous, winning RSA submissions, we secured this opportunity and amplified our client’s timely perspective on SMS phishing.

Be Vendor-Neutral

When crafting a speaking submission, it’s essential to understand conference attendees’ unique needs. A half-hour sales pitch will elicit groans, eyerolls, or, even worse, people leaving in the middle of your presentation. Attendees are often industry veterans looking for helpful insights that improve their daily technology strategies. Their experience also means they’ve been around the block a few times, making them averse to “salesy” presentations.

Your submission will be rejected if you fail to remain vendor-neutral. And if your presentation tilts toward vendor-specific messaging, your company risks damage to its credibility and reputation. This works against the primary goal of PR and communications: building trust among your industry peers and customers. To navigate this vendor-neutral emphasis, focus on the big picture. Find objective data highlighting real-world trends and tie your messaging to those trends and how they impact real people.

Share Actionable, Relevant Tips

To avoid the dreaded vendor pitch, provide actionable tips and takeaways that benefit attendees’ businesses or help them see a familiar topic or technology from a novel perspective. Speaking engagements are a two-way street if you want to maximize results and raise your thought leader’s profile. You must provide value to your industry to receive value in return. In addition to providing actionable tips for technological strategy, make your insights relevant to current events.

For example, if there are regulatory actions aiming to stop a certain type of cyberattack, leverage those regulatory actions and adjoining statistics at the beginning of your presentation to set the stage with timely information. This grounds your presentation in objective information without seeming biased to your company’s core products. For example, our winning RSA presentation pulled on highly relevant regulatory actions and statistics relating to the renewed rise of SMS phishing scams, then explored SMS security from the perspective of service providers, SMS aggregators and consumers.

Be a Resource, Not a Mouthpiece

Above all, speaking engagements humanize your company’s thought leaders and enable them to shine on the biggest stages in your industry through their public speaking skills. Just remember to write a presentation that positions your thought leader as a resource on pressing issues in your market, not a mouthpiece for company sales. Despite our working world of Zoom calls and virtual summits, in-person communication is just as effective for leaving a lasting impression on conference attendees and prospective customers. However, you must provide value and actionable insights to yield optimal outcomes.

These opportunities allow your executives to showcase their personality and approachability beyond your product’s technical specs and features. So, don’t be afraid to integrate humor or anecdotal, relatable experiences. By weaving your company’s message and unique story into these presentations, you can raise brand awareness and participate in the conversations that matter most to your target buyers. This is a tenuous balance that requires a combination of extensive research and writing, meaning it’s vital to prioritize these tips before subtly integrating company messaging into your presentation.


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