Every speaker must create a web presence, whether this is a part of an existing business web site or a brand new site for speaking.
Even if a speaker is already prominent, prospects and potential buyers rarely call the speaker directly for more information. The first thing they do is check out the speaker’s website. The website is usually the first impression a prospect gets of a speaker and it’s got to be the best impression.
There are two main kinds of speaker websites. One is a content driven website that are mainly used by coaches and consultants to say “ I am a consultant, but I also speak and here’s my speaking section.”
The second type of website is what is called a brochure website. This is a smaller site and it’s all about the speaker as a speaker. The purpose of the brochure site is to promote the speaker as a thought leader and to promote their topics. If the speaker is also an author, sometimes they will blend book promotion and speaking. We will focus on the first type of website in this section.
Essential Elements of the Speaker Website
The speaker’s website should include these elements:
- Home page – which shows credibility and differentiates the speaker in a relevant way. From the home page of the website, you want users to be able to sign up for something free so they become part of the database, and so you can stay in touch with them as new products or services are offered. There should also be tabs at the top or side of the site to make it easy to find anything the user needs in one click. Make the blog, testimonials and video clips all available from the home page. Finally, consider putting the latest news on the home page. It makes the speaker look busy and in demand.
- Media kit (including press releases and audio, video or print media clips, Hi and Lo resolution JPGs of the front cover of a book or products and the speaker’s head shot). Journalists use the web extensively for doing research for articles or news pieces, so the website must have a media kit readily available. If you have substantial content to show that the speaker is an expert, the web site can lead to enhanced publicity.
- For meeting planners -Make it easy to know what to do to book the speaker, so include a tab and a section that includes everything a meeting planner would need in one place.
- Praise for the speaker – Testimonials and reviews
- Upcoming calendar of speaking events – Only for an established speaker (you never want this section to be blank)
- Products – If the speaker sells products, then it should be easy to buy directly from the site, or there should be a link to Amazon.com or another eCommerce site.
- About the speaker/contact info
- Blog – It is important to promote the blog posts from the home page.
- Speaker video(s)
- Resources/interactivity (exercises, worksheet downloads, assessments, list of resources, articles, if any)
The VSAs Role in Maintaining the Website
The VSA and speaker will need to talk about how often the website should be updated and the budget the speaker has for maintenance. Some speakers want the website to be up to date at every moment and others would rather have you update only once a month. The maintenance might include:
1. Adding events to the speaking schedule
2. Adding white papers or articles
3. Reporting back to the speaker about web traffic from Google Analytics
4. Adding any new offers
5. Coordinating contests
6. Changing banner ads
7. Coordinating affiliate programs
8. Updating the latest news
9. Uploading new testimonials and video clips
A full media kit will include at least:
• One Sheet with List of Speaking Topics and Descriptions. If the speaker specializes in training, the description should also include the learning objectives of the workshops and what level of interaction is created with the audience.
• Speaker Bios
• Images (Speaker Photo JPGs)
• Press Release(s)
• Prior Media (Clippings from previous media interviews, articles, audio, video)
• Scheduled Media and Events
Sample of good speaker media kit:
Speaker One Sheet
A speaker one sheet is a download or a printed copy of a single page, using both sides of the page in full color and giving a short version of all the important information that might entice someone to hire the speaker. It should be professionally designed and graphically appealing.
The one sheet should include:
The speaker’s topics, highlighting benefits to the audience, showcasing the speaker’s background and approach. It is important to show how prominent the speaker is in his field and to say something about, “This workshop is for any audience facing…”
At least one photo of the speaker on each side
Praise for the speaker – endorsements which highlight what people get out of the speech and the speaker’s delivery style
Client list (groups the speaker has talked to) – if there are more than 20, list just the largest
Quote from the speaker – to show personality and style
Call to Action – Ex: Click this link to see Tom’s video, Click here to get our special report on…
Contact information – use Speakers Bureau if speaker uses one
There should be three kinds of bios on the speaker’s website:
- A short bio for promotion in a section to be used on event web sites. This might be 150 words.
- A longer bio for the “about us” section. The longer bio should probably have the short bio as the first two paragraphs and be about 500 words.
- A bio to be used as an introduction before presentations – about 100 words. It can be very helpful if this intro is double-spaced or in a larger font so it is easy to read from. You might also spell the speaker’s name phonetically if it is a difficult one to pronounce.
- If the speaker is an academic, you may also need a separate Curriculum Vitae which will detail accomplishments in the academic world such as articles in academic journals, other publications, such as books, teaching experience, research projects, etc.
Here are some uses for the bios:
- For meeting planners
- As live speaker intros to pump up the audience – “Today, Susan is passionately committed to saving animals. Please join me in welcoming Susan White to the stage!”
- To use as a radio introduction (two sentences only)
- To show subject-matter expertise
- For the resource box for ezine articles
When a bio is written for a speaker, it should be in third-person (use the speaker’s last name or he/she, never “I”). In a bio you want to share information about the speaker in a way that makes the audience feel something about the speaker. A bio should feel authentic and not too removed.
When writing a bio some questions that might be helpful to think about for the speaker are:
- What are the most meaningful results you bring to your clients?
- Why does this speaking topic matter to you? Where does this passion come from?
- What do your clients say about you? “I get so excited when I work with a client and that client says…”
- What would make your listeners/clients smile if they knew you better?
- What is your claim to fame? (Ex: Susan is a regular on CNN and hosts the largest online community for start up entrepreneurs in the U.S.).
There are two common mistakes in writing a bio for a website or a media kit. The ﬁrst is saying too much, and the second is saying too little. Some speakers go on for several pages, telling everything they’ve done since high school. Not only will this bore the reader, it says the speaker is trying too hard to be an impressive person. Talk about awards and achievements only if they are relevant. With a polished bio, almost anyone can have star quality.
Having a professionally done head shot is essential for the speaker. A head shot is a photograph of the speaker that is usually the face and also the neck or the chest up. It’s useful to make available several different head shots and other photos for meeting planners and journalists. In addition to a head shot it is great to provide “on stage” images that show the speaker in action on stage. Finally, have a version of the head shot as a square image, cropped to show mostly the speakers face. Square images are often used in programs.
Be sure the photographer supplies you with a high-resolution (hi-res) JPG files of all photos (at least 300 DPI) that will be adequate for all print uses.
You will also want to make low-resolution (lo-res) images available to be used on a website or in blogs and newsletters on the web.
There is always the question of what 300 DPI (dots per inch) means in the way we actually get photo files. What this means in our terms is that the photo will probably need to be at least 1MB is size. Many times you will have a photo that “looks” like it is the right size visually, but it doesn’t really have enough dots per inch to be printed. Look for the size as an indication.
The other indication is pixels. Your photo will need to be at least 700 x 500 pixels to be high enough quality to use for print. The way to find this is to find the information on the JPG file (click on the photo in preview and right click on the photo file without opening it to Get Info – if you are using a MAC and look on the size. The size should be at least 1MB or if the size is in pixels 700 x 500).
Speakers should continually think about how their topics of expertise relate to the news of the day, and should release their own news stories accordingly. A press release should be short—a page or two at most, with a provocative headline that grabs the reader’s attention. Enticing statistics in the opening of a press release immediately communicate the magnitude of the problem or challenge represented by the topic the speaker addresses.
Writing should be short, pithy, and tight. Include a quote from the speaker, and testimonials about the speaker when possible. Always include a brief bio and all the relevant information including the website and contact information at the end. Take care to optimize the key words in your press release. Any words that the media might search on to find your subject should be repeated in the release, but particularly in the title and first paragraph.
Here are two recommended services to help you write and distribute press releases to the major news agencies:
• PR Web (www.prweb.com) is the least expensive way to get your press release into broad distribution at about $80 per release.
• PR Newswire (www.prnewswire.com) is the granddaddy of news release services. One of their services, ProfNet, allows experts in all fields to register their availability to journalists.
After every speech, usually the host organization will do some kind of evaluation to capture audience reaction. Sometimes they will share it with the speaker and sometimes they won’t, but that’s something that the VSA can help track.
As part of the follow up, the VSA can write an email on behalf of the speaker saying something to the effect of “We’re so thrilled that you were pleased with the presentation, I received good feedback, I hope you did too. Per our previous conversation during the consideration process, you offered to give us a testimonial. We know how busy you are so we are happy to draft a suggested testimonial for you or we would be thrilled to have you create one. Just let us know how we can best assist you.”
Also, a speaker, as part of his or her own follow-up, can touch base with the meeting planner after the speech, and say “Hey, I just wanted to check with you, I got a lot of good feedback, and I hope you did, too.” That’s when the speaker can say, “I appreciate your sharing with me what stuck with the audience and I’d love to write some of that up for an endorsement. Is it okay if I draft something up and have you look at it?”
Nine times out of ten the meeting planner is going to say yes. For whomever says “yes” to an endorsement, the VSA can use the testimonial log and then follow up to make sure the speaker gets the endorsements and testimonials promised.
The VSA can also help the speaker use LinkedIn. If a VSA finds that a particular client has friended the speaker or is on LinkedIn, the VSA, if it’s okay with the speaker, and on behalf of the speaker could say “Would you be so kind to recommend my speaking, because I did a good job for your group?” Most people will say yes and most will be happy to have you draft something to save them the time and thought. It’s ten times easier to edit something, than it is to create from a blank page, so it greases the wheel and increases how fast you get testimonials back.
Another thing that’s very important about drafting testimonials is strategically there are points that a buyer can make that a speaker cannot say about themselves. The buyer can brag about the speaker in a way that would be unbelievable if the speaker did it him or herself. That is the power of third-party testimonials that readers think are objective. If you can get video testimonials right at the time of the event, those are very powerful as well.
Creating a New Speaker Website
What happens when the speaker is creating a new site or they don’t have a website?
The first thing the VSA can do is assist the speaker in identifying the resources needed to do the job. He or she can help find and interview website designers and copywriters. It is very important that whomever is selected, that the VSA is able to maintain the site, at least the simplest changes.
Some web designers are moving away from project work; they are changing their business model to where there will be an annual retainer or a monthly retainer to use their proprietary software for updates. Instead, you’re looking for a web designer that will design the website and teach and coach the VSA and serve as a resource for new things the speaker wants to do with the site.
There are three elements to website preparation. The first element is the design and the graphical interface. The second element is navigation and the programming that goes behind the navigation. The third and final piece is the copy in each section.
The VSA’s job is going to be to gather that information and make sure it gets to the designers in the format that the designers need. Most designers are now asking for all the content at one time. Designers want to know what navigation (tabs) you want and what goes into those pages and and then what links are on each of those pages, so that the designer can get a view at 30 thousand feet about what goes where.
Who’s writing the content? Sometimes the speaker wants to write all the content and sometimes the speaker wants to hire a professional copywriter to do it.
There is a lot of coordinating involved in creating a new site or doing a major upgrade. The VSA can act as the coordinator who makes sure everyone has what they need and to help remind each party about deadlines so the project stays on time and on budget.
A final critical item will be to proofread the site and keep it proofread. Every time a change is made by a copywriter or designer, a new error can be introduced.
The Role of the VSA in Managing the Process of Creating a New Site
1. Talk with the speaker on the purpose of the site and what the speaker wants on the site. The VSA should look at what the speaker currently has for a speaking website and make recommendations based on what should be on the speaker site to make it complete.
2. Coordinate with the site developer, providing photos, bios, etc.
3. Maintain the website (or send new information to the site developer), updating as the speaker has new events, topics, products, etc.
Using WordPress for Speaker Sites
One of the more cost effective ways to help a speaker create a new site is by using WordPress software. It is free and makes it very easy for an author (or you) to add or change the content or images any time.
To put up a web site you need to have a host, such as Hostgator or GoDaddy where you can buy a domain name and where the files that make up the site actually live on a server. Then you need to have a web developer build a site from scratch or start from a ready-made software such as WordPress. Once the skeleton of the site is put together, you add content in words or images. Finally, a site designer adds a look and feel to the site with color, a header and graphics. This is called “skinning” a site and you can change the look and feel over time without starting over with a new site.
While we do not suggest that a speaker’s assistant should become a web site designer (unless you have that expertise), it is good to understand the process and know web designers who can provide good value to your authors. If you learn how to use WordPress you can be invaluable to authors who need new pages, new content, to add events, to add media clippings to their sites.
Another great Google tool to use on a web site is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is code that isn’t visible to the user, but which allows you to keep track of how many people are visiting each page of the website. This tool can help you know what pages are popular on the site and what isn’t used and might need to be changed to attract more attention. To learn more and get the code you need for the site, see http://www.google.com/analytics/sign_up.html. You must first register the speaker at Google.com (unless he or she already has a Google account) before you can register for Google Analytics.