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Conference speaker proposals

Last updated on January 20, 2023

‘Tis the season for conference speakers to pitch their 2015 proposals.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of people ask variations on the same question: “There’s a conference that I want to speak at, but I don’t know what they’re looking for. I have a few topics that I could speak about, and the proposal deadline is coming soon. What should I submit?”

I’ve developed a radical approach to tackling this very topic. Are you ready for it?

I ask the organizers.

Every conference has a contact email for questions or concerns. If I don’t know someone specific within the organization, I email that generic contact person and say, “Hi, I’m a conference speaker specializing in topics of interest to freelancers. I see from last year’s program that your focus was on ___. Are you looking for more of the same this year, or are you planning to go in a new direction?”

I’ve been doing this for two years, and they always reply to my message.

It makes perfect sense: they know what their members or attendees are looking for, and therefore the types of topics that they’re hoping to see in the proposal pool. They would much rather have a deep assortment of complementary topics to choose from, rather than a scattershot collection of unrelated ideas.

The prevailing theme for 2015? Every organizer that I’ve spoken with wants to talk about Things That New Freelancers Need to Know. And it makes perfect sense. The passage of “Obamacare” has decoupled health insurance from employment. People are less afraid to go it alone, and more willing to follow their dream of entrepreneurship. I’m happy to be there to help them learn from others’ mistakes (and by “others’ mistakes” I mean “my mistakes”).

What do those conference-goers want to hear from you? Just ask.

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