So You Want to Keynote

Which events should you be a part of in 2019?

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Jan 16, 2019
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I wish I had a dollar for every time someone had asked me which events their boss or client should speak at. The beginning of the year is peak absurd question season. As every comms agency is dusting off their client's thought leadership strategy prior to their new year kick-off meeting, some poor minion is dispatched to pull together a list of conferences at which the CEO or her successor should be speaking.

The answer is classic It Depends.

It depends on your marketing and communications strategy. Are you looking to raise the profile of your leadership? If so, with whom? Are you launching a new corporate narrative? If so, why? Are you trying to make your overall brand better known? If so, for what? Are you looking to develop new business or cement your relationship with existing customers? Depending on the answer, one event will be better than another.

There is no point speaking at the largest Internet of Things event in the world (unless you are being paid a lot of money to do so) if the audience you are trying to impress are bee keepers.

The events sector is a $1 trillion + global industry with more than 10 premier B2B events held daily. There is plenty of choice.

Events change ownership though, lose or gain traction and punch above or below their true weight. Carefully auditing an event's current status is vital before raising your hand and saying you'd like to be on the stage.

You really want to be sure that their brand values mesh with yours. Who else will be speaking there? Are you happy to share even the green room, let alone the platform, with e.g. Nigel Farage or other controversial keynotes? Who is chairing the event? Is his or her tacit endorsement of your brilliance a good thing? Who will be in the audience? Most critically, when and where will you be speaking? Are you on the main stage or tucked away in a breakout session in the dead zone after lunch while your biggest competitor has their own standing room only unplugged session in the auditorium?

Finding the perfect event is only half the battle of course.  It is sometimes hard to hear, or tell your client, but the organiser might not be as convinced as you are, that giving you a keynote or putting you on a panel, is the way forward. Particularly if you have something to sell.

Event producers are looking for two things: speakers who will attract others (whether it is delegates, sponsors, media coverage or other speakers) or who will dazzle on the day (creating happy delegates who will therefore return next year and recommend the event to other people, and lots of media coverage) - ideally both.

The perfect event faculty is made up of legends (political, financial, business, social), thought leaders, best in class practitioners, inspirers and disrupters (the innovators, commentators and technologists). Positioning where you fit within that mix will ensure that when you raise your hand to speak, the event organiser bites your arm off.

The deck attached takes you through step by step how to choose the right platform, how to be invited to keynote at the world's leading events and how to make the most of it when you do.

Happy speaking.

See my slide deck on How to Build your Personal Brand through Speaking

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Susanna Kempe

CEO, Flying Trumpets

A digital, marketing leader with 20+ years experience in international B2B and media businesses, the last 15 of them at Board level. Susanna's digital experience includes being CEO of the iconic WGSN, growing its customer base and profits to historic highs. An American, German, Brit, she understands global markets completely, has worked all over the world and launched businesses in China, Japan and India. Her extensive M&A experience includes buying a whole portfolio of Performance Improvement businesses, data businesses and successful PE exits. Susanna is steeped in events experience. She began her career at IIR and was part of the management team that sold to Informa. There she was the CMO before moving to Emap Networks as CEO, transforming the events business and achieving record profits. She was also a NED of WTG and the interim CEO of Industry Dynamics. Most recently while the Global Partner for Content and Marketing at Brunswick Group, she implemented a new digital first strategy, GTM approach and corporate re-brand. Susanna now runs her own boutique consultancy helping CEOs and Boards position their personal brands and grow their company profits through content, marketing, innovation and digital.

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