Creative at Heart hosted it’s first experience in January 2015. In the past 2 years, I’ve worked with over 70 speakers & panelists. I’ve received dozens of emails, over 50 speaker applications (even though we’ve never done a call for speakers) and countless requests to join our amazing team of educators.
I don’t say that lightly or take lightly the serious nature of hosting a conference. I pride myself on the atmosphere we have created at Creative at Heart and work really, really hard to build on that brand. Our educators (our speakers & panelists) are the face of that brand. While I might be the “voice” of C@H, they are the hands & feet. They are the women & men pouring into our attendees, sharing their skill-set & knowledge & doing it with an open heart. I tear up when I think of how much they have given to the C@H family. And it’s because of how much they impact our mission that I take great care into selected our lineup for each conference.
Every host – whether it be a conference, retreat or workshop – has their own set of guidelines for selecting their lineup. Some have a consistent lineup every time the experience is held, providing growth as a unit & dependency in content. Some won’t have the same speaker twice, providing diversity in content & intriguing alumni to attend again. Some, like Creative at Heart, strive to do both. My goal is to have a set of returning speakers at every conference to show unity, while also bringing in new speakers for a fresh take on content!
It’s important to understand my heart behind the C@H speaker lineup in order to understand why I have the guidelines I have. Just like it’s important for you to know Amber’s for Inspired Retreat, Kaitlin’s for The School of Styling or Bonnie’s for illume retreat! We each operate differently & while I’m open to sharing what I personally look for in a speaker/educator, please know that others may look for something different.
Here are a few things I look for in a speaker & why it’s important to me:
Has the person attended C@H? This question is the first I ask because I am loyal to my family of C@H-ers! They understand the community because they are currently in the community. So many of our attendees have become panelists or speakers at future conferences because they took what they learned during their conference & grew leaps & bounds!! They know what C@H is all about & want to give back. I love that!!! And I want to help them do it as best I can!
Do they showcase the C@H brand in their business on a regular basis? I don’t mean sharing pink images on instagram or getting our @ logo tattooed on their wrist (I’ve got both of those items covered!). I’m not talking about what our brand looks like – I’m referring to what our brand stands for, what it means and what it feels like. We have had speaker stand on our “stage” before ever attending C@H … in some instances it has been the perfect match – two puzzle pieces that fit so well together. In some instances, it has been a little off, a little rockier than I would have liked. Over time, through trial & error, I have learned to carefully ask & seek men & women who genuinely believe what we believe. Educators who hold our standards to the highest form & will do their best to share openly, willingly & honestly with our attendees. We really are the conference with “all the feels” (thanks for putting it in the most perfect way, Ash!) and I need to know our educators understand that in the fullest.
What is their message; have I heard it before; what are they bringing that is unique to them? We hear some of the same talks over & over again at conferences – client experience, blogging, branding, work/life balance – what are YOU bringing to the table that’s different? How is your talk unlike someone else’s on that same topic? How are you weaving your story, your experience, your heart into it? This is vital, and helps to bring diversity to the speaking topics that our covered from conference to conference!
Does the person have video content on their blog, website or instagram?Another crucial question – and one I research thoroughly. We have all had teachers that know their stuff, but bore us to death! Just because you are good at something does not mean you can articulate it enough to teach it. Does this person shy away from public speaking? Do they know how to address a crowd? Can they speak professionally yet personally about their topic? With insta-story (and FB-story) there’s really no excuse!! I look up everyone on instagram & will follow along on insta-story for days or weeks at a time to get a better feel for who they are, what they’re about & how the articulate themselves!
How have they connected with me? We all know what it feels like to be “pitched” to. And sometimes it can be very icky. It can leave you feeling like you’re only being used to further their platform, not your own. While I do want our educators to further their platform – and I believe in using the C@H platform to help them do just that – it needs to be mutually beneficial. It may be best to give you an example of what to do & what not to do: If you have never met the conference host, attended the conference &/or have no connection with them or their brand, do not email & pitch to speak in your first email. In my opinion, it’s too forward an approach. Yes, we are business owners; however our industry is very unique. We crave community & connection. Pitching in your first email (or anytime you make an initial first connection) is likely to result in a closed door. The key to this is CONNECTION. Make a connection. Reach out. Introduce. Share common friends, colleagues or likes/dislikes. Make a genuine effort to get to know them & their organization. What if it’s not a good fit for you? (Yes, I have had speakers decide that it wasn’t a good fit all around & we’ve parted ways with no hard feelings!) It’s because of this that I do not do speaker calls for Creative at Heart. (I know some experiences have a great response to speaker calls & do them every year! I LOVE that it works for them & their organization; however it’s not the best fit for C@H.) I do accept applications when someone inquiries, and I will look through those prior to selected our lineup; but at the end of the day, I crave the connection, their desire to stand behind our brand & our attendees & look at that before anything.
Was this helpful? I hope so! Tell me – are you hoping to begin speaking? are you looking to start your own educational opportunity? If so, I’ve got 2 things you may love:
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PS. If you have questions about the C@H process I’m happy to chat! – – > firstname.lastname@example.org
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