Some of my clients come to me, not because they need help finding opportunities to speak, but because they are inundated with them.  Since the conference landscape is so vast and ever-changing, many executives are not sure which conferences are really worth their time.

You may also be asked to evaluate event opportunities and make recommendations as to whether or not an executive should participate.  So how do you determine when they should go and when to say no?

Every executive, company and conference is different, but there are a few things that I would consider every time:

  1. Location – Will this speaking opportunity require a cross-country flight? If so, it better be good. Or would it be possible to tie the opportunity to other business in the area?
  2. Audience/attendance – Who are the target audiences that matter most to the invited speaker/company? Will those people be in the room? How many of them? It is not just quality or just quantity that matters, but rather a blend of the two with regards to those goals.
  3. Timing – Will the speaker have to miss anything by participating? How many other events are happening that week? Will that take away from possible attendance?
  4. Other speakers/reputation of the event – If the event is something that your customers/partners attend every year and one that is frequently profiled in the news and one that may help you and your company obtain press coverage, then it is probably a good idea to be there. If your competitors are typically on stage and it would help raise your visibility to also be on stage, it is probably a very good idea to be there.
  5. Actual opportunity – This is the difficult one. If your CEO is invited to speak at a well-known event, but that invitation is for a panel discussion on the last day of the conference and it runs concurrently with 5 other sessions, it may not be a great use of his or her time.

Remember that regardless of the situation, it is always best to get all of the details on the event, audience and opportunity before you make a decision as to whether or not to accept a speaking invitation.