How to secure keynote speaker gigs for your business

In one year, MysteryVibe has gone from small stage pitches to speaking at major events. So, how can you take your start-up to the mainstage?

The best way to get your new business recognised is by sharing good content, contributing something worthwhile to the market and getting people excited enough to talk about you too.

You can do all three of these things as a speaker at big tech events.

Getting a top speaking gig is a big deal. Being recognised as a thought leader is an incredible feeling and gaining access to inspiring speakers and engaged press is a huge bonus. However, the best part is having the opportunity to share your knowledge, challenge assumptions, entertain and teach the audience something new.

Every start-up wants to get to the stage where event organisers are inviting them to speak, and our business Mysteryvibe – the fast-growth sextech company – is no different.

How we secured speaking gigs for our start-up (hint: it involved a lot of hustle!)

Firstly, let me reassure you that our journey from small stage to mainstage hasn’t been easy, these opportunities didn’t fall into our lap. It’s taken a lot of hard work, persistence and ambition to get here.

I’ll give you some context:

The first tech conference MysteryVibe attended was TechCrunch New York in 2015. We were new to the game, and understood that we needed to hustle A LOT. So that’s what we did, we created good relationships with the organisers, we would talk to anyone who came to visit our stand as if they were the most important person in the room and stand there all day ignoring our urges to eat, take a break (even visit the bathroom!) because we were afraid of missing out.

Stephanie speaking at Slush in Helsinki

We treated every conversation as a potential game changer, and we did that at numerous events globally.

Pitching requires preparation and a good understanding of your audience. A struggle we had to overcome as a sextech brand is gaining the recognition we deserved.

Our product would alway raise a few eyebrows (when you’re building smart vibrators you kind of get used to that…), we’d get great feedback from judges but it was difficult getting to the next stage. I remember being the only woman pitching in the finals at one conference, but being told even before we’d pitched that they couldn’t award us first place, because we’re a sextech company.

I think a lot of people would see this as a real setback, but it just made us want it more. It made me want to succeed and change perceptions of the market. We continued, starting off small until the audiences got bigger and bigger.

How you can secure speaking gigs for your start-up

From one hustler to another, here are our tips for any start-up looking to go from pitch to main stage in a year…

Show that you mean business

There’s no room for haphazard effort. If you’re serious about your business’ growth it needs to be obvious and you need to show that you’re in this for the long run. This is where that persistence comes into play.

It’s really important you make good connections with event organisers because they’re your key to connecting with other speakers, business and press. If you want something from someone what do you do? You make an effort to understand how you can help them.

Having this insight allows you to structure your pitch and content accordingly.

Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry

People trust people. If your peers and customers are talking about you, and you’re consistently sharing good content and commenting on the market then you’re halfway there.

You should be considered a thought leader in your industry before speaking at any event, because it’s only then the audience will engage and take you seriously.

Talk about your market, and it’ll talk about you. That’s the formula we’ve been working with.

Expand and develop your network

Networking is the oldest trick in the book, because it works! There’s no better brand ambassador than other thought leaders in your industry giving you good feedback. Some of the best and most exciting opportunities we’ve experienced have come from conversations with interesting people.

If you meet someone cool at a conference and they offer an introduction to someone new, always follow up!

It’s also really important you listen to conversations and offer valuable input. Don’t just give to receive.

Create good content that steals the limelight

This should be your priority. There’s nothing worse than listening to a presentation that lacks enthusiasm and interest. You need to have a good mix of informative, fun and thought provoking content.

You want the audience to go away thinking;

  1. “I want to learn more about that business”
  2. “That talk resonated with me”
  3. “They’re really cool, I enjoyed that”

Deliver on this advice and you’re likely to clinch those great keynote speaker slots that will help your business stand out. Of course, following the steps of one blog post won’t make you the next Sheryl Sandberg, but it’s a good place to start…

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