Conferences, trade shows, and industry events are valuable opportunities for companies to build brand awareness, provide thought leadership, generate leads, and form new relationships.
Preparing for a show involves budgeting, developing a presence, and planning for speaking engagements well in advance of the event.
Even before you have a show picked out to submit a speaker for, marketers should have a stable of clients on deck with whom to partner for future speaking opportunities. Part of onboarding a new client and enrolling them in a pilot project should include an expectation that you want to share your learnings with the industry. Speaker abstracts that point to real-world success metrics will always have an edge.
Our team has extensive experience successfully preparing for large healthcare and biotech industry conferences such as HIMSS, AHIMA, BIO, and AACR. Here’s some of the expert advice we’ve gathered.
10 best practices for submitting speaker abstracts that get accepted
- Know your audiences. While your presentation will eventually be seen by conference attendees, you should also consider the perspective of the review committee. Before you begin writing, ask yourself, “What’s going to be appealing to both?”
- Present an educational session, not a sales pitch. Nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. Consider how your presentation will help attendees learn something new, earn CEUs (if applicable), and inspire them.
- Speak to a problem that attendees encounter. Your presentation should address a problem and explain how you solved it. Finding solutions to enduring problems is one of the primary reasons people attend industry conferences.
- Select a track where you have expertise or a unique perspective. Pick the conference topic that most closely aligns with your area of expertise. Avoid topics that were trendy at the conference in prior years and try to anticipate what will be hot in the coming year.
- Offer original content. Review committees want fresh topics and subject matter to encourage attendance and ensure their event stands apart from others. Make sure this is the first time you will present your session.
- Stay on top of deadlines. For many of the large conferences, submissions are typically due nine months or more before the conference date.
- Don’t wait until the day of the deadline to start your proposal. Many submissions require information beyond the speaker’s name and topic, including past speaking engagements, links to reference material, and more. Be sure to review the template well in advance and aim to submit your entry one week early.
- Submit from the client perspective, not the vendor. Always submit your proposal from a client that can speak about a problem that they solved. The client should be the primary speaker and the vendor should be the secondary speaker.
- Ask for input. Have other industry professionals read your submission to make sure it’s well thought out. Confirm that your client has reviewed the topic and is onboard with the plan.
- Offer actionable takeaways. Speakers should ask themselves, “If I were starting this all over again, what would I do differently?” Sharing this advice is more authentic than a sales pitch.
Bonus tip: Consider local and regional events. Securing a speaking engagement at a major conference is competitive and expensive. You can test your message and gain experience at a local event for a fraction of the cost.
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Speaking engagements at leading industry conferences should be part of your company’s strategic marketing plan, especially for organizations seeking to build thought leadership for their executive team as part of a broader public relations campaign.