How to Land Cool Speaking Gigs

Adoring fans. Scads of money. Free, first class plane tickets…

OK, so you probably won’t experience these things as a conference speaker…but speaking at events is still pretty fun (and great for business, too.)

Conference speaking is a great way to take your personal brand to the next level. You’re able to show folks what you know, connect with your target audience and demonstrate your expertise. I typically walk off stage with a pretty nice stack of business cards  – and that’s always a wonderful thing for lead generation.

But what I love the most about public speaking is knowing that I’m truly helping folks. One of my most favorite things in the world is seeing an audience member “get it” – and watch a smile that says “OK, I can do this” cross their face. That feeling has kept me on the speaking circuit for about 21 years now…and I still love it!

Sounds like fun? If public speaking is your goal, here’s what to do…and what to avoid like the plague…


– Start small.  Although it’s possible to start speaking at national events, most event coordinators want to see at least some speaking experience. See if you can speak at networking events, Chamber of Commerce meetings – anywhere where the audience would be interested in what you have to say.

– If the speaking opportunity asks you to pitch a topic before they accept you as a speaker, create a presentation that your audience would love.  Think about what your audience is interested in, what challenges they’re facing, and what they need to know.

– Follow the speaker guideline instructions. They are your guide for creating a fantastic session pitch. Some speaker coordinators will trash any application that doesn’t follow the instructions – so don’t let this happen to you.

– Ask if expenses/a speaker fee is included – but don’t count on it. Many conferences don’t pay any expenses (yes, that means that you’ll be paying everything yourself.) Others may comp a hotel room or your flight. It never hurts to ask if expenses are covered. Just don’t expect it.

– Create your presentation early and practice, practice, practice. Feeling unprepared on stage is no fun. There’s nothing worse than looking at a slide and wondering, “Um, so what was I going to talk about?” Review your presentation so many times that you could deliver it in your sleep.

– Did you miss a speaking deadline? Email the conference coordinator and tell them that you’re available in case someone can’t make it. During every conference, there’s always one (or more) last-minute cancellations – and you never know when you may get a call begging you to fill in.

– Jump on the phone with your fellow speakers (assuming that you’re speaking on a panel.) First, this gives you a great chance to “meet” your co-panelists before going on stage. Plus, it gives everyone a great opportunity to coordinate their presentations and make sure that there’s not any major topic overlap.

– Promote that you’ll be speaking. Post on social and put the information on your site. It’s great PR for you and the conference. Everyone wins.

– Speak slowly when you’re on stage. I struggle with this every time. :) It’s easy to speak too fast when you’re nervous or jazzed – heck, one of the main criticisms I hear is “Heather, you talk too damn fast!” Make a conscious effort to slow yourself down. It’s hard. I know.

– Thank your fellow panelists and the speaker coordinator after the event. These are the folks who helped you look good – and a few “thank you’s” can go a long way.

– Try to speak at bigger and bigger conferences. Did you just speak at a local event? Cool! Now pitch for a regional event. Once you have some more speaking experience under your belt, try for a national event.


– Harass the speaker coordinator. If you’ve sent in your application and received an initial acknowledgment, you’re good. Emailing, phoning, texting and berating the speaker coordinator will do nothing but make them angry. Trust me. These folks hold the key to your speaking opportunity… so be nice.

– Create a self-serving sales-y presentation.  This is a sure way to never be invited back to speak – ever! The audience is there to learn from you, not listen to a sales pitch. Leave any pitch to your final “contact me” slide – or leave it out entirely. If you’re good, folks will want to talk to you.

– Sell from the stage. I know a lot of books chat about “back of room sales.” It’s true that some conferences will let you sell your books/CD’s, etc – but many of them do not. When in doubt, ask – and if you hear “don’t do it,” don’t.

– Read your slides without looking at the audience. I know that public speaking is scary – and it’s easy to hide behind the podium. But if you’re reading everything on your slides and not making eye contact, you’re going to lose your audience.

– Slam your panelists. You may think that you’re being “edgy” on stage. But if you start rolling your eyes while another speaker is talking, slam what they say or get openly hostile, you’ll lose your audience. And yes, this happens more times than you’d think…unfortunately.

– Insist that you need to get paid. If you throw out an ultimatum like, “Well, if I don’t get a first class plane ticket, I’m not speaking,” you will lose the gig. What’s worse, that speaker coordinator will remember your rant and make sure that you never get invited back. If you can’t afford to speak, don’t pitch.

– Get drunk the night before your presentation. Speaking with a hangover is no fun. You won’t do a good job, and getting the cold sweats on stage is really bad news. I’m so careful about this that I sequester myself in my hotel room the night before every gig. It’s not as much fun – but I don’t have that “I’m going to throw up” feeling while I’m on stage. :)

– Forget about your leads. Did people give you business cards? Fantastic! Email them that day and thank them for attending your session. It’s so easy to forget to follow up a few days later – and who wants to receive an email saying, “We met three months ago when I was speaking. Remember me?”

– Beat yourself up if you made a mistake. We’ve all had an “oops” on stage. They suck. I know. Fortunately, people forget (or they don’t even notice in the first place!) Learn the lesson and move on. After all, you have more speaking gigs to land!

What else would you add to this list?

Easy Ways to Panda-Proof Your Content

Easy ways to Panda-proof your contentPanda is everywhere! I’m here at SMX East, and “Panda” is definitely the hot conference buzzword. My argument? Google’s Panda update forces marketers to go back to basics – that is, quality, original content that speaks to their prospects and tells a story. The update is a good thing and provides quite a bit of opportunity. It’s just understanding how to leverage it and make it happen.

Yesterday, I discussed how to “Panda-proof” your content – and how to develop content that can be repurposed across different marketing mediums. If you’ve been struggling around, “How can I find the time to create the quality SEO copy that I know I need,” check out my slides from SMX East.

Want more Panda goodness? Check out the live blogging writeups from the wonderful folks at aimClear, SEORoundtable and Outspoken Media. Enjoy!


15 Tips for a Successful PubCon Conference

PubCon speakerPubCon is one of my favorite conference series ever.

It’s not just the speakers (always top-notch) or the vibe (always fun.) PubCon is a great combination of smart people, talented speakers and excellent content – much of which you won’t find anywhere else.

And it’s coming up in less than two weeks. Are you ready?

If you’re new to PubCon, you’ll find your “survival guide” below. I’ve compiled this list after 4 years of speaking at PubCon (and 10+ years of speaking at other search engine industry conferences.) If you follow these 15 tips, you’ll have a fun, profitable time.

Before the show:

  1. Try to finish up as much work as you can before hitting the plane. You may have every intention of working a “normal” day while you attend conference sessions. It won’t happen. Really, it won’t. You’ll be pulled in 100 different directions and on “conference time.”
  2. Send emails to people you want to meet and introduce yourself. Even if you can’t set up a formal appointment time, you can at least get on their radar – and then introduce yourself when you see the opportunity.
  3. Check out the PubCon blog for the latest and greatest. You’ll learn about speakers, sessions, special discounts…and yes, the networking parties.
  4. Make plans to see your friends. Chances are, you’ll find your best buddies at the show, at the hotel bar or at one of the networking parties. But if it’s really important to see someone, make plans to meet them at a certain time. I don’t know how many times I’ll say “I’ll see you there” – and then I barely catch a glimpse of them during the show.
  5. Check out the #pubcon Tweets on Twitter – especially if you’re a PubCon newbie. You’ll learn about the speakers, the conference-goers and the after-conference activities. Plus, Twitter is an easy way to meet folks if you’re shy – and keep up with them during the show. Once you hit Vegas, you’ll already have a group of people to roll with.

At the show:

  1. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the speakers and ask questions. The speakers are PubCon are nice, approachable and friendly. Most of the time, they’re happy to answer whatever question you have. Having said that…
  2. Don’t ask a speaker to provide free SEO consulting. Yes, the speakers love sharing their knowledge – and we’re happy to answer your questions on stage or after the panels. However, please don’t ask for free, in-depth help that you’d normally pay for under the guise of  “Could you spare 30 minutes to look at my site and just give me a few pointers.” And for goodness sake, please don’t follow us into the bathroom and try to hand us your business card under the stall (yes, it’s happened – to multiple people, multiple times.) Thank you. We appreciate it.
  3. Don’t be one of those “room-service people.” Sure, you’re exhausted after a full day of PubCon. And yes, curling up in bed and ordering room service sounds cozy. Just know that a huge amount of networking takes place in the bars and at the clubs. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you have to network – and that won’t happen in the privacy of your hotel room.
  4. By the same token – pace yourself at the parties. A huge newbie mistake is partying so hard during the first night that the rest of the conference is a hungover blur. Remember, you’re there to learn – not party (I know, I know.) If nothing else, remember to eat a good dinner and that water is your friend. Drink a lot of it. It’s better for you than vodka.
  5. Go to sessions you wouldn’t normally attend.  If you’re an organic SEO person, hit some PPC sessions. If you don’t know anything about contextual advertising, check out a session. You never know what you’ll learn – or who you’ll meet – that can help with a future gig.

After the show:

  1. Be aware of what @josephmorin calls the PCB’s (the post-conference blues.) It’s always a weird feeling after spending a whirlwind few days in Vegas to come home and be partner, parent and all-around “normal” person again. You may get a little depressed. It’s OK. We all do.
  2. If a speaker gave you a tip that rocked your SEM world, let him or her know. Speakers love to know when they’ve helped someone (otherwise, we wouldn’t be speaking!). A short “Thanks for the tip on X” is fantastic feedback. And besides, you’ll make their day.
  3. When you follow up by email, mention something that will jog the other person’s memory like, “We were discussing how to implement linkbait strategies for ecommerce sites.” Conference-goers meet so many people during PubCon that it’s often hard to keep everyone straight – so memory-cues like that are crucial. Personalized emails encourage conversation ore than generic “nice meeting you” emails – and you’ll be more apt to receive a response.
  4. Upload and tag pictures with care. It’s more than “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” It’s showing respect for your colleagues…even if they just happened to get in the shot and you don’t know who they are. Some photos look more compromising than what was happening in real life, and you don’t want to mess with someone’s job (or their relationship) because you thought a certain picture was funny. And sometimes, the folks in the picture are doing exactly what it looks like – but really, is that something you need to post? When in doubt, ask the folks in the pic if it’s OK to post or leave it out entirely.  Better safe than sorry.
  5. Implement all your great ideas! PubCon is great for trading strategies with new friends, learning about the latest SEM information and discovering what works and what doesn’t. But conferences don’t help you if you don’t put those great ideas into action.

I’ll see you there! I’ll be moderating the “SEO and Viral Tactics on a Shoestring Budget” on November 11th and “Optimizing Your Site for Contextual Ads” on November 12th.  I’ll also be discussing “Real World Winning Tactics for Content Creation” on November 12th.  And if you want to reach me before the show, just zip a Tweet to @heatherlloyd. It will be great to “meet” you!

And if you have your own PubCon conference tip – please share it below!

Searching for Catalog Marketer SEO Pain Points

ACCM 2009Are you a catalog marketer completely stymied by SEO copywriting (or SEO in general?)

I need your help.

Next week, I’m presenting on “Next level SEO: Supercharge your existing SEO campaign and increase your ROI” during the Direct Marketing Association’s ACCM conference. It’ll be an intense 2.5 hour session, outlining all the things marketers can do to improve their sites and make more money.

I want to make sure that I’m discussing the pain points that catalog marketers are feeling right now. If you’re a catalog marketer, what are your biggest SEO challenges?  Is it writing original content for 10,000 SKUs? Is it researching and managing a keyphrase strategy? Is a “SEO 101” recap in order, or are you way past that and looking for new ideas?

Thanks in advance for any and all help you can provide. I’ll be giving my presentation next Monday – so please leave your comments, questions and ideas.

And if you’re going to the ACCM conference in New Orleans, stop by the SuccessWorks Search Marketing Labs. We’ll be reviewing sites live and offering fast, on the fly SEO consulting. Session times are:

Tuesday, May 5 – 2:30-4:45 p.m.

Wednesday, May 6 – 11:15-12:15, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

And yes, we’ll probably Tweet the heck out of the event. So don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for the latest and greatest!

Need SEO Copywriting Advice? Come to SES San Jose!

sessj09_hearmespeak-32The sun is beating down (it’s going to hit 107 today in Portland – wow!), the “back to school” sales are starting…

…It must be time for Search Engine Strategies, San Jose.

I’ve been speaking at this conference for 8 years (the first year was in San Francisco) and have loved every minute of it. And now, I’m thrilled (and honored)  to say that I’ll be speaking on two SES panels. It’s all the SEO content marketing goodness you want, packed in two, fun-filled sessions. Plus, my fellow panelists (and moderators) are not to be missed!

For those of you new to SEO copywriting and content strategy, the “Keywords and Content” session will be a perfect overview. And for those of you who are more advanced, my “Turn Brain Science into Bucks” will help you understand exactly what consumer psychology and neuromarketing buttons to push.

Here are the SES deets. If you attend one of my sessions (or see me on the conference floor,) give me a shout.  I’d love to meet you!

Turn Brain Science into Bucks: Incorporating Persuasive Messaging into Your Content Strategy
Tuesday, August 11, 1:45PM

Twitter. White papers. Optimized web pages. Blog posts. Companies have more opportunities than ever before to create content that captures new buyers, opens up communication, and builds loyal customer relationships, just by understanding how the latest persuasive marketing techniques mesh with the online content marketing cycle. We’ll showcase some current online content campaigns, and explain how one-to-one and one-to-many content strategies help persuade buyers, build trust, and get great search engine listings. Plus, you’ll learn how social proof, neuroscience, and psychology dictates whether your content strategy causes conversions — or misses the mark.

  • Moderator:
    Greg Jarboe, President & Co-Founder, SEO-PR

Graeme McLaughlin, Manager Digital Marketing, British Columbia Automobile Association
Heather Lloyd-Martin, CEO, SuccessWorks

Keywords & Content: Search Marketing Foundations

Wednesday, August 12, 9-10:15AM

How many keywords do you need in your paid search account? What keywords are your customers searching for? How do customers find products after they reach your site? Learn how to target the right terms in your paid and organic search marketing, and where these keywords should be used.

  • Moderator:
    Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, Founder Partner and CMO, and Managing Partner & Founder, Beyond Ink

Christine Churchill, President, KeyRelevance
Heather Lloyd-Martin, CEO, SuccessWorks
Jill Whalen, CEO, High Rankings
Marc Canabou, Senior Director, Product Management Leader, Yahoo! Search Advertising
Ari Levenfeld, Manager Client Services, Ask Sponsored Listings

DMA09 – Join Us for the SuccessWorks Search Marketing Labs

dma_09Heading to DMA09 in San Diego?  SuccessWorks will be running the Search Marketing Experience Labs on Tuesday, October 20th.

I’ll be evaluating Websites with other experts including Lee Odden from TopRank Online Marketing, Kenny Hyder from Rockstar Consultants and Khalid Saleh from Invesp.

This is a great opportunity to get (free!) advice on your SEO content marketing strategy, conversion effectiveness, technical SEO and social media campaign. Join us!

View My SEO Copywriting Presentation from SES Chicago

7 Steps to SEO Copywriting SuccessSES Chicago was one fun conference.

For the first time this year, audience members seemed hopeful. Maybe it’s because 2009 is drawing to a close. Maybe it’s because the recession is (finally) unhinging it’s iron-locked jaws off everyone’s pocketbooks. Whatever the reason, the SEO copywriting session I did with @byronwhite was darn near standing-room only. Not to mention, the audience was fantastic!

For those who missed it, here’s my presentation from the “45 Minute Copywriting Boot Camp” session. Enjoy!

PubCon Presentation: Real-World Winning Tactics for Content Creation

Picture 11Couldn’t make it to PubCon (or were there so many fantastic sessions that you couldn’t hit them all?). For those who missed it, here’s my presentation from last week’s “Real World Winning Tactics For Content Creation” session. I discuss how to improve existing sites and how to leverage the power of content for better search rankings and conversions. Enjoy (and zip me at tweet at @heatherlloyd if you have any questions!).