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Need to Give a Speech? Don't Forget to Do This

You've prepped your talk and calmed your nerves. But here's one step you might be forgetting.
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Speaking at conferences is an excellent way for authors and entrepreneurs to share their expertise, and in the process, brand themselves as experts. I try to do it whenever I can.

Go to any conference website and more often than not you'll see a "call for submissions." To be sure, it's incredibly difficult to speak at events like SXSW. You need to have a track record of speaking engagements, for one. But, just as important, you need evidence of those engagements when conference organizers try to research you online. In short, you need to get yourself on video, but far too few speakers take the step of posting professional-quality videos of themselves on their websites.

In December 2011, I gave the keynote speech in Manhattan at a media conference on my then-new book, The Age of the Platform. The Sunday night before the talk, I had a quick call with the conference organizer and discovered that he had no plans to record the talk. I had assumed that this was a given and was more than a little disappointed that my talk wouldn't live forever on the Internet. What to do?

First, I asked the conference organizer if I could bring my own videographer. It's always better to ask for permission, not forgiveness. Once I received the go-ahead, I turned to Craigslist.

God bless that site. I quickly searched for a professional videographer and found one by the name of Alvin whose ad and rate interested me. After viewing some of his work and negotiating a price of $300, I sent him half via PayPal to attend the event and bring his equipment. At the risk of being immodest, the result was excellent. In fact, this was the best money that I spent in 2011. My speaker bureau features that video on my speaker page and some of my most recent engagements were finalized after decision-makers saw that specific video.

The result was probably better than I would have gotten had the conference itself recorded the event. During the talk, Alvin smartly moved the camera in and out, capturing audience reactions at key points during my presentation. In other words, he did not record a passive video in which the camera remained inert. I typically walk around quite a bit on stage, and I like to think that my motion generates energy--all of which the camera picked up. A few days after the talk, Alvin put the video in a DropBox folder and I paid him the rest of his invoice. After a few clicks, I uploaded the video--and the talk was available for the entire world to see.

Simon Says

If possible, see if the videographer(s) can use A&B cameras. Sure, if you're paying out of pocket, this will add to your total cost and you can spend a small fortune on video editing. Still, you'll notice a marked difference in quality and, more important, so will others who view the video. Worst case scenario: Use the video recording software on your computer to record yourself. A mediocre video is better than no video, although I'd argue that no video trumps a truly bad video.

Bottom line: a professional video can pay off in spades.

Last updated: Oct 15, 2012

PHIL SIMON | Columnist | Author and tech consultant

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of six management books, including The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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