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Speaking at a Conference? Fill Your Breakout Session to the Max With Potential Clients

by | Apr 23, 2019

Speaking at a Conference? Fill Your Breakout Session to the Max With Potential Clients

by | Apr 23, 2019

Speaking is one of the best ways to win corporate clients — and that holds true whether you’re selling products, software, consulting services, outsourcing, corporate training, executive coaching, some other type of professional services, or anything at all.

(In fact, here’s our list of the 12 top reasons why speaking helps you get corporate clients.)

But often times, small business owners and subject matter experts don’t get clients from speaking because they skip important pieces of the puzzle.


Here’s a big one we see: Not proactively promoting their speaking session well before the conference.

This is doubly important when you have a breakout session, because you will be competing against other speakers to get “butts in seats” for your presentation.

However, even if you’re scheduled to give a keynote presentation, marketing your session ahead of time is still a wise thing to do.

True, as a keynote speaker you won’t be competing against other sessions. However, you’ll be up against all sorts of other tempting distractions.

Conference goers are notorious for going back to their hotel rooms to respond to emails, get work done, take a conference call, or grab a cat nap — not to mention skipping out to hit the pool, the gym, the exhibit hall, or even the roulette table if the event is in Las Vegas.

And yet, despite all these things vying for your audiences’ time and attention, the vast majority of consultants, coaches, and other experts make the mistake of relying entirely on a conference’s website and the printed attendee materials to market their session for them.

As a result, all sorts of ideal target clients don’t make it to the session, which translates to huge missed opportunity.

That’s why the moment you are booked to speak at a conference it’s time to start marketing your session, and “capturing mindshare” of the attendees.

The goal? To ensure not only that your presentation is on their must-attend list, but also to build credibility and rapport with your audience well before you step foot into the conference hotel.


Here are the top five ways we have our clients pre-market their speaking engagements at conferences and other events.

1. Pre-conference podcast.

In many cases, industry associations and conference producers have launched their own podcasts. For example, the National Retail Federation (NRF), which hosts the world’s largest retail conference, has also launched a podcast called Retail Gets Real.

There are also podcasts that, while not directly produced by the conference organizer, target the exact or nearly the same audience that will be attending a conference. Such is the case with Total Retail Talks, a podcast produced by a leading media outlet in the retail industry.  You can bet that Total Retail Talks listeners are also the same types of executives who will attend NRF’s conference.

In either case, being interviewed as a featured expert is a great way to gain visibility while also promoting your breakout session or keynote at an upcoming industry event.

2. Pre-conference webinar.

You’ll need to negotiate this with the conference organizer, but usually event hosts love this idea, because it’s also a great way to drum up conference registrations. You can go the route of a more traditional webinar (with slides), or you can consider a more interactive approach using an online tool like Zoom. No matter the medium, these pre-conference webinars work best when your webinar is a direct lead-in to your live presentation. Just be sure to leave your webinar attendees wanting more.

3. Pre-conference article — online, printed, or both.

Almost all industry, trade, and professional associations publish content on their websites. For example, you can check out NRF’s blog here.

Many associations also publish printed magazines as well, which are distributed to all members as well as direct subscribers. In fact, NRF publishes a print magazine called Stores.

These content channels are the perfect place for you to share expert insights, while also promoting your upcoming speaking session. Not only that, you’ll also reach decision makers who won’t be able to make it to the conference itself, further extending your marketing reach.

4. Pre-conference social media posts.

Virtually every conference on the planet promotes its event on multiple social media channels starting months in advance. (NRF is already promoting its 2020 conference across five different social media channels.) It’s pretty easy to insert yourself into that online conversation while gaining visibility in front of people who are following the action.

For example, if you write a relevant article on LinkedIn that offers valuable tips, plus highlights your upcoming session, you can gain visibility by incorporate conference hashtags. You can also tag the hosting organization as well as other speakers, and even share the post inside of related LinkedIn groups (assuming it’s allowed within the group’s guidelines).

5. Pre-conference email marketing.

This strategy works best when you are speaking at the same conference again (and you saved the contact information from your audience the last time around) — or when you’ve built your own in-house email list of target decision makers. In either case, sending out a handful of emails that combine both valuable insights with a preview of your session will help to drive traffic.

A few more important points about this strategy.

  • Keep in mind that, even if the decision makers on your email list won’t be attending the conference, you’re still building your credibility and influence.
  • You can plant a seed that you are available to deliver your session for their organization specifically. (Companies hire speakers every day.)
  • If you employ any of the strategies listed in 1 to 3 above, you can repurpose those items to send to your email list.
  • And of course, always remember to follow all email laws when it comes to spam, privacy, etc.

As we wrap up, keep this important point in mind.

Getting booked at a conference is just the first small step in using speaking to win more clients.

There are important things you need to do before, during, and after a conference to make sure your investment of time and money truly pays off.


Not Sure Where to Start?

One of the biggest things our “tribe” quickly comes to realize is that there is no lack of business opportunity out there — but rather a big blue OCEAN of OPPORTUNITY just waiting for them.

That means sometimes it can be overwhelming to figure out where YOUR expertise and experience best aligns with the BIGGEST market opportunity — in a way that will make you HAPPY and fuel your passion.

That’s exactly where we can help. We are experts in evaluating all of your professional background, experience, expertise, innate strengths, and both business and personal goals, and zeroing in on the EXACT inflection point where it all comes together with a big, bold business opportunity for YOU.

If you’re ready to go from having the “tail wagging the dog” to proactively building your business with laser-sharp clarity and crystal-clear vision, we’d love to help. Schedule a call with our team here.


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