How to promote yourself when speaking at an event.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Detective Agnes Armstrong AKA Anonymous. She says:
“What is an appropriate level of self promotion when doing a talk?
I have been asked to do a talk on Imposter Syndrome for 150 female leaders in an organisation. Naturally I don’t feel in the slightest bit confident I am able to do this or the right person for the job, but given the topic I feel that is exactly why I should, and so for that reason I am in!
I will be one of four people contributing and my slot will take up nearly half of the online event, including the break out room workshops I will help shape. I was initially told there is budget but that hasn’t proven to be the case — I won’t be getting paid.
I therefore really want to make sure that there will be some additional work to come from this event. This will be my first event like this, and so I’m unsure of the etiquette when it comes to self promotion?
Any advice on how to get the balance between being the ultimate inspiring professional speaker, whilst also not wasting the opportunity to self promote would be greatly appreciated. Should I just trust in the process that work will naturally come from it?”
Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:00:49] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.
[00:01:00] – Steve
Hello, yes! Each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but of course, we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Though it seems like a long time ago. Cast your mind back, skip through your feed, and you will find it was about…
[00:01:13] – Frankie
It was an excellent episode about client breakups!
[00:01:16] – Steve
[00:01:18] – Frankie
With some awful singing to boot.
[00:01:20] – Steve
Well, everyone’s a critic. Caroline Boardman got in touch.
“Why on earth do some clients think they own you? The way I see a client service provider relationship is an equal relationship. I am the same with my suppliers and customers. I am me. I would never treat someone who is doing some work for me, an employee, a designer, a coach, a VA, any differently than I treat my clients. Argh! Yes, scars from client breakups here. I think I’m much less tolerant of shitty behavior. Where can I buy the playlist?”
[00:01:53] – Frankie
I have now made the playlist.
[00:01:55] – Steve
[00:01:56] – Frankie
I was doing it this morning. Search for ‘DIFTK client breakup songs’ on Spotify, and I’ll put the link in the community and on Instagram and Twitter and all those good places.
[00:02:06] – Steve
Oh, I’m going to have a look now.
[00:02:07] – Frankie
Lynda Kendall says:
“Oh, man, this is such a hard lesson and rejection never gets easier.
Here’s my perfect example. Just before lockdown, I was going to do a simple identity and website for a company. I ended up doing probably 30 or more logo ideas for them with no constructive feedback, and then they binned me off. But because of the Doing It For The Kids community, I have a contract and had been paid 50% commencement fee, so I at least didn’t lose any money — just my pride. Now, I see a year and a half later, they still haven’t got an identity online, so I know that I wasn’t the problem!”
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:05:37] – Steve
Okay, it’s episode 74. We’ve got a question.
It’s anonymous this week, so I’ve opened up the ‘Fantasy Name Generator’ because we prefer to speak to a name rather than ‘anon’.
So, I’ve got… Drake Gibson, Walter Maxwell, Alex Hackman.
[00:05:55] – Frankie
That’s quite strong.
[00:05:57] – Steve
Audra Abbott. Agnes Armstrong.
[00:05:59] – Frankie
That’s quite good!
This week’s question comes from Agnes Armstrong.
“What is an appropriate level of self promotion when doing a talk?
I’ve been asked to do a talk on impostor syndrome for 150 female leaders in an organisation. Naturally, I don’t feel in the slightest bit confident I’m able to do this or the right person for the job, but given the topic, I feel that’s exactly why I should. And so for that reason, I’m in. I will be one of four people contributing and my slot will take up nearly half of the online event, including the Breakout Room workshops that I will shape.
I was initially told there is budget, but that hasn’t proven to be the case. I won’t be getting paid! I therefore really want to make sure that there will be additional work to come from this event. This will be my first event like this, and so I’m unsure of the etiquette when it comes to self promotion.
Any advice on how to get the balance between being the ultimate inspiring professional speaker whilst also not wasting the opportunity to self promote would be greatly appreciated. Should I just trust in the process that work will naturally come from it? Thanks. Agnes”
[00:07:04] – Steve
Oh, it is a good question
[00:07:06] – Frankie
[00:07:08] – Steve
I think, first up, you need to be clear with the organiser what kind of promotion is being done about the event and how will you feature in that pre and post event?
[00:07:18] – Frankie
Good point. Yes.
[00:07:20] – Steve
Your branding is there. Your name is there. Your links are there.
[00:07:24] – Frankie
I would make sure that the information you give them for their brochure or the website is shit hot. Have a bio that does exactly what you need it to do. Have photos that make you look amazing and friendly and whatever your brand is and you want people to think about you.
And if you’re going to send people to your socials or your website, if there’s something you’re selling there, make sure that’s up to date! And the first thing they’re going to see is, “Here’s this thing that you can buy from me!” Or make sure your services are up front and centre on your site and on your social media. So if people get sent there, they can easily see how to give you money.
[00:07:54] – Steve
And remember that you can Tweet or Instagram about the event.
[00:07:59] – Frankie
Yes. Piggy back on their posts! If they’ve got a hashtag, get involved in the conversation that they’re doing online.
[00:08:04] – Steve
If you’re including them in your Tweets and excitement about it, they’re likely to retweet that and share it. And then people will go, “Oooh, who’s this?” and then they’re likely to follow you or blah, blah, blah… Be part of that excitement!
[00:08:14] – Frankie
And that works, again, pre and post event. So in the build up you can be saying, “I’m speaking at this thing!” and get involved that way. But crucially afterwards you want to be visible around that event. So anyone that did watch your talk will be like, “Oh, that’s the person I saw speak who was amazing! Let me go and follow her, let me see what she does”.
You know, you want to be up front and centre in people’s minds afterwards as well because that is the moment, isn’t it, of opportunity?
In a normal time, you might be at a physical event where you’re mingling in a group after you’ve done your talk and you meet people that way. You have to apply that idea online now. So like, you’ve done your talk, you’re in the ‘meeting room’ afterwards with people virtually, whether that’s Twitter or whatever, having those conversations in the same way, but doing it online. You’re still a part of the event after you’ve finished your talk and people can find you that way.
[00:09:06] – Steve
When it comes to your slides…
[00:09:09] – Frankie
…is there a debate about whether or not she needs slides?
[00:09:12] – Steve
Okay, if you don’t have slides, you should still probably have an initial slide that is your backdrop.
So, if you have the opportunity, if you’re standing on a stage, to have something behind you, even if you’re not using slides — make sure that image includes your name, what the hell you do and then your social media handles. And then right at the beginning of your talk, you can say, “Hey, if you’re enjoying today’s presentation, today’s talk, let me know. Here’s my things! Tag me into any photos that you’re sharing” or whatever. “I’d love to connect with you!”
[00:09:44] – Frankie
That’s a good point because people take images of you at a physical event anyway so to have that information available on the screen so that they know who to tag, how to spell it, all that kind of stuff. Yeah, useful.
[00:09:55] – Steve
Make it really obvious!
And if you are using slides, just subtly have those tags at the bottom of each slide as well.
[00:10:04] – Frankie
This is an interesting question because I feel like this is my constant internal turmoil — the balance between trusting in the process, like she says, what was it… “Trusting that work will come naturally to me after doing it’”, that kind of thing. Because I’m very much of the ‘work hard and be nice to people’ school of thought.
If you’re useful, you’re good, you make your talk shit hot for people — then the work will come as long as people know where to find you and what you do. But I’ve also learned over the years that there is a balance and I need to be more proactive about making sure that people do really know what I do and how to find more about me and like, building that in in a way that is just integral to my conversation, rather than “Here’s a speech about my services and what I do” sort of as a separate after thought.
Like, if there’s a point that I’m making that is drawn from my experience, that is drawn from my business, I would link the two together. It’d be like, “In my role as a graphic designer, X, Y and Z… I’ve learnt these things”. That way you’re reinforcing what you do through your talk without it feeling salesy.
[00:11:05] – Frankie
And then that, combined with great information, great advice, should mean people come away from that going, “Oh man, she was really good! She knows what she’s doing. I feel confident, I trust in her. And therefore, if I did have a graphic design thing, maybe I’d think about her as a person to talk to”.
It’s about building trust a lot of the time, and I guess that’s the core of that balance. You don’t want to tip it too far that people don’t trust you and find you salesy and find you opportunistic. I don’t know if that’s the right word…
[00:11:35] – Steve
…gently planting the seeds about how great you must be, but do keep it subtle.
[00:11:38] – Frankie
At the same time, I can hear Agnes saying, “But when doing a talk on Imposter Syndrome, women need to stand up more! Women should be less afraid of selling!”, blah, blah, blah.
So I do think there is a case for also… like we talked about in a couple of other previous episodes about Holly June Smith saying about repeating the same thing over and over again. Making sure people know what it is that you’re selling. What you’re doing. Not being afraid to, you know… you might mention what it is you do at the beginning of the talk and then never mention it throughout the rest.
I don’t think that’s the right approach either. But I do think drip feeding it, being consistent, but without it being a ‘sales pitch’ is the way to go. Bring it back to your job without it being an advert.
[00:12:20] – Steve
But at the end of your talk, there’s a chance for you to wrap up and say, “Look, if you would like to find out more about this, I would love to hear from you. Slide into my DMs”.
[00:12:31] – Frankie
I always find that such a creepy turn of phrase. I don’t want to slide into yours and I don’t want you sliding into mine thanks very much. Leave the jelly at the door!
[00:12:46] – Steve
Leave the jelly at the door?! What parties have you been going to in Somerset?
However you want to phrase it, you want to spark that conversation.
[00:12:54] – Frankie
Sorry, if you use that phrase, by the way, apologies.
[00:12:56] – Steve
And this then takes it a step further towards sales then.
Judge the room or judge your own feelings on it because it doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘alesy’. Let’s say that you were some sort of product person. There is a chance at the end of your talk to say, “If you want to find out more, check out this”, and to say, “Thanks for coming along today. There’s a 20% off discount or whatever. Here’s the code”.
Now some people might go, “Oh no, that sounds salesy!”. But like, I’m saying, it’s up to you. Totally depends on the situation, depends on you. But there’s a chance there, isn’t there? To say, “Hey, look, here’s a code!”
Like, if I’ve been watching a talk and somebody says, “I’ve got a book where you can find out more about my talk”. And then they say, “For the rest of today there’s this event offer to get x amount off”, what’s wrong with that?
[00:13:41] – Frankie
A sales pitch specific to that event. Yeah, it’s not a bad idea.
[00:13:45] – Steve
But I don’t think that is necessarily the same for…
Let’s say you were a coach, a consultant, something like that. I’m not sure I would discount that kind of thing. However, there is a way that you could try and get people and that is — and maybe you’ve noticed this at talks when people offer to email you the slides or something like that? Or, you know, an extra document or I’ve put together this extra thing to help you on this topic?
[00:14:09] – Frankie
A free e-book! A download! Something else about imposter syndrome that you’ve made. That sells your services indirectly and will get people on your mailing list.
[00:14:19] – Steve
Yes, and that’s the secret.
So, here’s the web link. It’s on the screen. Make it really clear there’s a web link specifically for this event. So it is… agnesarmstrong.com/event, in order to get the download. They have to put their email in. Again, it doesn’t feel salesy. You’re trying to help! What’s wrong with that?
[00:14:38] – Frankie
And also, like, on Instagram for example if you’re going to send people there — you’ve only got the one URL at the top, right? And historically people used to use linktree a lot, which kind of does the job. But preferably you build a page on your own website with a list of links and so you can update that as and when, relevant to what you’re talking about.
[00:14:56] – Steve
And of course these days, whether you’ve got 10,000 followers or not, you can now put a link in your stories!
[00:15:01] – Frankie
You can! Yes.
[00:15:03] – Steve
So you could take a picture or take a picture of you with the audience and then directly on that picture — because they’re all going to be encouraged to go and look at your Instagram — they will see that you put the link through to the freebie that you’re offering.
[00:15:16] – Frankie
Is there also scope to ask the event organisers… “As I’m not getting paid, is there…”
[00:15:23] – Steve
“…doughnuts?” You can ask for doughnuts. Yeah, ask for doughnuts.
[00:15:25] – Frankie
Always ask for doughnuts.
Like, if you’re not already being given opportunities to network with other speakers, is there scope to do that? I was just thinking back to when you and I talked at Sorted, the Janet Murray’s thing. We spoke at her event last year, was it last year?
[00:15:41] – Steve
I think it was, yeah.
[00:15:44] – Frankie
[00:15:45] – Steve
We weren’t invited back.
[00:15:46] – Frankie
No, it’s true. Hi, Janet!
Yeah, but part of that event, we were added to a private Facebook group with all the speakers. And that in itself is good from a networking perspective because there’s obviously the people that you’re talking to, the people that have paid to go to the event, but the opportunity to meet other people that are speaking is also potentially beneficial for you. To network with those people, meet those people, make new connections. They will have their own audiences. Like all of that stuff builds into building your business, making a name for yourself.
[00:16:18] – Steve
And if it is in person, maybe there’s a chance for you to go and all have coffee or lunch or dinner.
[00:16:25] – Frankie
Also, I don’t want to be like, down on it… But for future things — and I appreciate it’s not black and white and these things are complicated and events are expensive — but you should be getting paid for this. Based on what you’ve said. 150 people and you’re doing this workshop breakout bit? You should be getting paid.
And I know that not asking or pushing to get paid is all part of a lack of confidence and imposter syndrome and whatever else, but the more that we self-employed people — and particularly women — go, “Look, I should be getting paid for this!”, the more we all say that, the quicker that change is going to come.
Maybe she did and it didn’t work out. And props to you if you gave it a go. And I know there are benefits PR wise, and we’ve talked about promoting yourself from doing these things, but equally, this particular one — I feel like you should be getting paid for that. And next time, I’d make sure you do. Just a side note.
[00:17:19] – Steve
Oh, no, I’m glad because there was no rant up until that point. It was boring. It was a simmering, simmering rant. And it’s been a while.
[00:17:27] – Frankie
Well, I was going to start with that, but it felt a bit down on the situation.
[00:17:31] – Steve
Yes. So why not bring it down at the end?
[00:17:32] – Frankie
[00:17:35] – Steve
Because then we can have some music and drums and it’ll all be fine.
[00:17:40] – Frankie
I’m trying to lift up, really is what I’m trying to do!