For the CMO

Finding the Right Professional Speaking Engagements

As a CMO, your personal brand helps your company grow and stand out from the competition. Here’s how to develop a professional speaking plan that works.

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Professional speaking opportunities are one of the best ways to get in front of industry audiences. From exclusive think tanks to large industry conferences, being a confident speaker can open doors. Yet, many executives fail to create a plan that helps them achieve their goals, while also supporting their company objectives. CMOs can be on their way to lucrative and interesting speaking engagements with just a few steps.

Define your goals: Before you pursue speaking opportunities, it’s important to know what you hope to achieve. Define your personal and company goals. If you’re focused on raising your profile within a specific industry, for example, speaking at conferences, trade shows, and targeted networking events may yield the best return. When you are clear about what your goals are, it’s easier to vet and prioritize opportunities.

Put speaking in context for your larger marketing initiatives: Your company has developed a comprehensive marketing plan. How can your speaking engagements support those objectives? One CMO I interviewed worked for a company that was launching several new products. He pursued speaking engagements related to those fields and at events related to innovation and product development. He forged important connections and helped attract media coverage of his company’s new efforts.

Explore your unique POV: What can you add to the current discussion that’s different than what your competitors are saying? One financial services expert I heard recently became an expert on digital customer experiences in that field. Another spoke about using digital technology to optimize in-branch experiences. Both focused on the customer, but each used data, a unique perspective, and their own background to customize and differentiate the message. Not only does presenting your unique POV make it easier to get quality speaking engagements, but a unique message increases your return on these efforts as well.

Take a ladder approach: Determine how different events can help you grow your speaking career over time. While speaking at dozens of local chapters for the same organization can be very helpful, over time your goal may be to open more diverse opportunities. For example, a speaking engagement at a regional conference could open invitations to a national event. Participating in podcasts could lead to radio interviews. Speaking at a smaller event that will share professional video footage of your talk could make it easier to cost effectively make a speaking reel. Taking this approach can help you find the nonobvious value in specific events.

Ultimately, speaking is a great way to get your company’s message out—and raise your visibility as both a marketing leader and thought leader. Spend time to align your speaking engagements with your larger strategy, and you’ll capture dividends from the time you spend away from the office.