Friday, January 11, 2008

7 Tips to Get on a Panel at a Conference

by R. Scott Lorenz

Admit it. You've been to an industry conference and you look at the people on the panel and you wonder, "How in the heck did 'that' guy get on the panel? I could do that."

Well, you're not alone. Like getting asked to the Junior High Dance you can wait to get an invitation or get aggressive and make it happen. As a publicist I am often asked to get a client on the convention dais and as a result I've got couple of tried and true tactics that really work.

Here are seven tips to help you land that panel gig:

  1. Bring a big name to the party
    If you have little name recognition organize a panel around a topic and call in a favor from Bill Gates or other notable friend, client, customer or vendor by creating your own panel. Pitch the "ready made" panel, which includes yourself of course, to the conference organization. They have less work, and you get more editorial control over the discussion. Big names draw big crowds. All conferences like big names.

  2. Create a catchy title
    Even if you have a big name on your panel, an unexciting panel title and no mention of the big name will not be as interesting to the conference planner. Take a page out of the entertainment industry. Would people rather watch "Desperate Housewives" or the same program titled "Five Bored Housewives on Wisteria Lane?"

  3. Make a promise
    Tell conference planners what prospective audience members will learn and what they will take away from the presentation in the copy describing the program. For example: Tell them they will learn to do X, Y & Z and will be able to implement something tangible in their own business or practice.

  4. Offer to promote the conference
    Tell conference planners you'll promote the convention to the prospective conference goers. This helps drive more people to the conference and they will surely like that.

    You can offer to promote the event using:

    • A PR campaign to industry and consumer media.
    • direct mail piece to YOUR clients and customers.
    • series of emails to YOUR clients and customers with a link back to the conference's web site.

  5. Bring something to give away
    Tell conference planners you'll be giving away 'something of value' to audience members if you get the engagement. Items such as a free video, autographed book, new software etc. are often welcomed by conference planners as they make them look good.

  6. Make yourself the logical choice to speak on a particular topic
    Demonstrate expertise by showing conference planners your articles on the subject. Nobody wants to take a chance on an unknown person with shaky credentials. But, if the conference planner can "Google" you and find your web site and numerous articles you've written or your quotes in news, that takes the uncertainty out of the equation and they're more apt to book you.

  7. Plan way in advance
    Most conferences are booked into convention halls years in advance and most programs are decided upon many months in advance. If you really want to get on a panel, make your pitch before your competitor does several months in advance. Now, there's always a chance of a last minute booking but more than likely it's best to plan way ahead.

These are just a few ways to get on a panel or to deliver a presentation. If you'd like to share more ideas please email them to me and I'll use them in future articles on the topic. Remember: Just like the Junior High Dance, you can wait around until they ask you or you can do the asking and make it happen.


You've got to market yourself!

Get aggressive and initiate the opportunity!

About the author
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm which specializes in marketing authors, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, ESPN, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few. To discuss how Westwind Communications helps its clients get all the publicity they deserve and more visit

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