Since the pandemic, the conference business has gone through several transitions, but we seem to be back to where we started, with a robust lineup of conferences that took place this past fall. The topics may look different – less focus on work from home best practices and more coverage of AI trends – but the events business is back to a similar planning process and conference cadence. Understanding this, what are the most important considerations as you begin your executive speaking/event participation for 2024? Here are three important best practices we’ve learned from working with hundreds of Fortune1000 companies and conferences over the years.

  1. Get started now! Remember that conferences begin planning their keynote speakers 6, 9, even 12 months in advance. Many events happening in the first quarter of next year have already invited speakers. Start the process by creating a list of relevant conferences that meet your objectives, based on the specific audiences you want to target. Then develop discrete strategies for individual speakers based on their speaking style, regional preference, and platform. Our clients benefit from access to our database of hundreds of conferences, but if you are searching on your own, consider looking across your network to see where your competitors and customers are speaking.
  2. Consider conference timing. When an event takes place is just one piece of the puzzle. You must also determine when the event actually begins to plan the agenda, and also consider where it falls in relation to other calendar items. Fall and spring are particularly busy with industry and thought leadership events. Also, holidays, summer vacations, and weeks with an increased possibility of bad weather are times of the year most organizers and attendees want to avoid. This leaves relatively few windows of ideal dates, largely during the months of April, May, September, October, and November. Think about how many times each speaker can realistically be available to speak externally and whether there are other subject matter experts who can step in when they are not available. Speaker Strategies employs a distinct tracking method for our executive speakers, but you can create your own simple tracking system to avoid schedule conflicts with major industry conferences.
  3. Ensure your messaging aligns with the conference goals, theme, and agenda. Conferences aim to provide timely and relevant information that their attendees cannot necessarily learn elsewhere. Before you suggest a speaker, research what the conference plans to cover in the coming year and which of your executives and messages is the best fit. Don’t assume that what has worked in the past will work in the future. Every message needs a refresh and must be tailored to the specific audience of each event. It is also helpful to have a third party review your topic suggestion to ensure that it doesn’t sound like a veiled sales pitch or contain too much of your own corporate speak.

It can be a daunting task to stay on top of the changing event landscape and determine which conferences and events are worth an executive’s time and travel. It is also easy to get caught up in the minutiae and lose sight of the fact that having a subject matter expert share his or her insights at a conference is one of the most powerful and compelling ways to tell a story and raise brand visibility. Most of all, enjoy the journey! And if you need any assistance along the way, please reach out to us here.