I’ve often talked to people at conferences who would like to be speakers themselves. They come up to me after a talk and share their own eagerness to be on stage. When I ask them why they are not, often the answer is in the lines of ‘my boss won’t let me’.
Unfortunately, it’s something you hear a lot. Management doesn’t feel speaking at a conference benefits the business. Why share “secrets”? Why take away valuable time from office work? They feel the conference is more of a day off than actual work.
They are wrong, of course. There are plenty of reasons for businesses to pursue speaking opportunities. But it isn’t easy to convince them otherwise. Once they make up their mind, you won’t convince them that easy.
Yet you can convince them. It only needs a little bit of persuasion ;-).
You need to focus on two things: making it worth their while and getting them involved. All in the right balance of course.
It’s never about you
Before I go into these two things, though, there is one thing you have to realise: it is never about you. Even though you are the one who wants to speak.
When trying to convince management, stay away from your personal reasons. Management isn’t interested in why you want to speak. They don’t care about your personal brand or your ambitions. They care about the business. That’s where you should focus on.
How to convince your boss
Make it worth their while
First of all, when looking for ways to convince management, look at them. Find reasons why it is worth their while that you are speaking at a conference. Why is it better that you are on stage and not at the office? Why does it have to be you and not one of your colleagues? Answer these type of questions. Those are your first steps to speaking at events.
A few examples of ‘reasons’ that could convince them:
Show the financial benefits
A conference usually costs money. You could, of course, show your boss you get a free pass to the event, so it doesn’t cost them anything, but that won’t do it. You have to show the financial benefits for the business.
This means potential clients. You want to show them, you will speak in front of x-number of potential clients. That’s where the financial benefits start. Potential clients equal potential money. And potential money is where management usually gets interested.
Explain what Branding does for the business
Of course being at a conference is much more than potential money. Branding your business will also help the financial growth in the long run. But branding does a lot more. It eases your talks. It opens doors and it gets attention.
Make sure you show how many bloggers wrote about last year’s conference. Show how many people are in the audience. Show what other branding opportunities there are from speaking at conferences.
Get them involved
Second, a big part of convincing your management is making it a team effort. Yes, it will be you on stage, but remember, this is not about you. It’s about the business. Get management (and other internal influencers) involved in the process. If you do so, they will be more inclined to say yes.
A few ways of getting them involved could be:
This is the easy part. As a speaker, you often get an extra pass or a discount on a pass. Don’t invite the colleague you’d like to hang out with, invite your boss. If he or she rejects, at least you got him or her interested (and you can still take your favourite colleague). If he does want to go, great!
This means you get to share the excitement with them. This means you are the person who is going to open up doors for him or her. Doors to new businesses and connections. Your boss will be grateful forever. And will be more likely to say yes to this and future events.
Ask for their help
Finally, ask for their help. Tell them you want to do a great job for the business. And that you need their help with this By creating the best presentation possible. Get them involved in what topic to talk about. Get them involved in practising. They will feel part of the show. They will want to see you succeed. And therefore say yes to your request.
Of course, every boss is different. Every management has their own reasons to say yes or no. Be sure to find out any hesitations and potential reasons for saying ‘no’ before you ask the question. And make sure you have the answers to those problems.
What do you think, will this work for you? Let me know in the comments!
I hope I will see you at one of the next conferences, as a speaker of course! Good luck!
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