How Speaking Opportunities Can Help Build Thought Leadership

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speaking opportunities

In the world of business-to-business (B2B) PR, we get stoked when we’re able to leverage an executive for thought leadership opportunities. As an executive title usually carriers weight in any industry, it’s safe to assume an individual titled as such has enough tenure or relatable experience, their opinion is one of which worth listening.

While we might think our executive-level client contacts are the cat’s pajamas, it never hurts to secure opportunities in which place these individuals in the limelight. Doing so, ensures others get exposure to these thought leaders‘ beliefs, best practices, tips and more.

In a recent blog post, we covered how individual awards can build thought-leadership credibility. Another tactic to implement when laying a foundation for executive thought leadership is securing speaking opportunities. Below are two ways speaking engagements position executives as thought leaders:

  1. Third-party validation
    Securing a speaking engagement for an executive-level client demonstrates that the speaker has an original viewpoint and that the topic they want to discuss is something others think is worth bringing to the table. Whether the speaking engagement is at a conference, a keynote at an event or a panel during an industry trade show, peers, possible prospects and partners deemed the topic worth their time and are looking to the speaker as an expert who can share something new.

  2. Finger on the pulse of the industry
    Speaking opportunities usually fall into two areas: forward-thinking, innovative discussions or a recap of a lesson learned (a customer case study or internal practice that was changed). Both scenarios take a look at the current state of the industry and offer takeaways for the listener. The benefit to the audience is the opportunity to learn and even walk away with something actionable. The benefit to the speaker is building credibility as someone who not only understands the industry but how to apply that understanding in a meaningful way. 

Pro Tip: Use Other Speaking Sessions to Scout New Stories

Chances are, at one point or another, you’ve attended an event where a subject matter expert from a competing company has secured a speaking opportunity. Instead of shying away from connecting, consider this an opportunity to learn more about their expertise and viewpoints — these may be topics you can speak to in the future.

You may also find that you disagree with your competitor’s message. That contrarian message might make for a great speaker submission in the future. It’s okay to hold an uncommon or even unpopular opinion. Afterall, most talked about spokespeople are thought leaders, not thought followers.

At the end of the day, speaking opportunities are a great way to reach relevant customer prospects and establish thought leadership. While completing speaker submissions, and even preparing presentions after those speaking opportunities are secured, may seem like a tertiary effort, it can pay big dividends down the road.