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A Guide to Presenting at Digital Marketing Conferences

Published: October 16, 2014

Author: Ian Lopuch

A few weeks back, I presented advanced PPC bidding strategies at SMX East. Today, I’m thrilled to share my favorite tips on presenting at digital marketing and search marketing conferences.
Presentation opportunities are accessible to hard-working digital marketing professionals who have something truly valuable to share. Learn why you should present, how to secure opportunities, and how to prepare an amazing presentation in today’s post!

Why Present?

I wanted to start off with a few reasons presenting is so important:

1. Presenting at conferences is one way you can give back to the digital marketing community. We have an amazing community; help it thrive!

2. Conference speaking events offer the perfect way to sharpen your public speaking and overall presentation skills. Public speaking is all about practice, practice, and more practice.

3. Conferences offer stand-alone and panel opportunities. While you may not have time to prepare a full stand-alone session, everyone has time to prepare for a panel. My 15-20 minute presentation took about 4 hours to prepare.

4. Get your name out there and build your resume. Employers love employees who have made a name for themselves in the industry. Why? Speaking at these events means you know your stuff. Also, see the next point…

5. Thought leadership makes your employer look good. Showcasing your digital marketing skills and lessons makes your entire company shine. it may even help your company drive more business (if you do deals where great digital marketing is important).

6. It’s fun! Do you get an adrenaline rush from public speaking? I sure do, every single time!

7. Speaking your lessons helps reinforce them in your own mind. It’s one thing to know something. It’s another to present and teach it to others.

8. Presenting offers opportunities to travel and see the world.


How to Score Your Speaking Opportunity

So, you’re sold, and you want to go for it! How do you score your big opportunity? From my experience, it’s all about your network. Let me share a few examples:

1. Want to speak at Google or Yahoo!? Make sure to form amazing relationships with your account management teams. Participate in betas. Provide constructive feedback. Proactively seek out case studies (both traditional/written and video). Form real friendships. All of these activities could build up to your big opportunity. When the time is right, see if your account management team has any speaking opportunities available.

2. Work with an amazing agency like 3Q Digital. 3Q just put on an incomparable “Future of Digital Marketing” event at the Google PartnerPlex. When you work with the-best-of-the-best, speaking opportunities are available to savvy clients and partners. It never hurts to ask!

3. Leverage digital marketing platforms and technologies? These days, many of us have an entire suite of technology, whether from the same company or multiple. Form amazing relationships with your partners. (Please call them “partners”, never “vendors”.) See if you can contribute to their blog. Provide product feedback. Show loyalty. When the time is right, see if any opportunities are available. My SMX East opportunity came about via a partner referring me into SMX leadership. In fact, I spoke on behalf of this same partner at a major conference last year. Partnerships should become amazing friendships, and a two-way street. See how you can give back as well!

4. Get out there and network. Attend conferences, spend time on the expo floor, ask questions, and most importantly attend the social events. Form friendships with those in charge of the conference. Submit your ideas!


How to Prepare

So, you’re interested in speaking and get selected. Now, how do you prepare?

1. Your job takes priority above everything else. Check with your boss before committing to anything. Make sure your work calendar is free. Make sure any travel and hotel expenses are covered in your budget (or also consider paying out-of-pocket). Do what’s right. There may be reasons it’s not possible to participate, make sure to be flexible and always place your boss and employer first.

2. Collaborate with your session’s moderator and your co-presenters (if on a panel). Understand the overall intent of your session, and craft the right flow. This collaboration is especially important in context of a panel or series. The moderator will want to make sure you truly dazzle the audience, while shooting for the least overlap possible.

3. Include lots of fun pictures in your deck. iStockPhoto and ShutterStock are two excellent places to purchase stock photos for your deck. Nobody likes a bunch of text/numbers. Tell a story. Include pictures, and let your voice do the talking/elaboration.

4. Share as much as you can! Digital marketing is a cutting-edge career. Things are always changing. The true value in these conferences is leaning new and exciting tips. See if you can elaborate with real examples, data, and numbers. That said, don’t cross the line. Make sure to do what’s right and never share anything without approval from your boss/legal team.

5. Let your experience talk. What’s unique about your career? What’s different about your path? Frame your story around you.

6. Public speaking is not a commercial (for yourself nor your employer). It’s all about giving back. Minimize introductory info about yourself and your company. Dazzle the audience with value. If the value is there, the audience will seek to learn more about you and your company.

I hope these tips are helpful and encourage you to speak at a major digital marketing conference! Speaking is truly a rewarding experience. Have fun with it!

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