Speaking at conferences and events is an incredible opportunity to build thought leadership and authority for your brand. Whether you know it or not, speaking is one of the oldest forms of social media. 

An extension of teaching, speaking before an audience providing valuable information on a new topic is a form of communicating and socializing your thoughts and ideas. That’s right. The act of speaking was social before technology and way before tools like Facebook and Twitter.

However with the advent of social media there are opportunities to take these speaking engagements and enhance them by making them more social in a modern context. Social opportunities are available for you as a speaker before the event, on-site at the event, after the event, and down the road as you promote yourself as a speaker in the future. Let’s take a look at all four areas.

Before the Event

Interact on the conference’s social channels — Once you’ve signed on, find the event’s Facebook page and event hashtag and engage with the fan community. In addition to being friendly, this is a great way to learn more about the group you’ll be speaking to.

Share the conference with your network — As a speaker, you bring your own audience and community to the event. Use this to share news of your speaking. It buys you good will with the confernece organizer and could even drive new community members to the event. Remember, neither you nor the organizer wants you to speak to an empty room.

Create a Slideshare account — More on this in a bit but you’ll need a Slideshare account as you make your presentation — the slides themselves — social. Start by creating the account. The basic account completion rules apply here as well — full profile info, links, consistent avatar, and the like. Even if you make the mistake of thinking of Slideshare as a secondary network your info should be robust here too.

At the Event

SlideShare vs Handouts — For the most part, events are getting away from the dreaded hand-outs — those nasty slides printed three-up on a page. Though many are doing this to realize the cost savings it also helps you as a speaker. For starters, you don’t want people reading ahead on your slides (this is a BIG pet peeve of mine). Second, if you don’t have handouts you don’t want people scribbling down your slide content either. By uploading them to Slideshare before the event you can take the burden off of your audience by saying you can find my slides at …

Embed Your Slides on Your Blog — Not to do a bait and switch on you after selling you on Slideshare but one of the huge advantages of this network is that you can embed your slides as you would a YouTube video. Simply grab the code and create a new post with your slides that publishes around the time your talk wraps up. Plus you get extra cool points by getting to say, “You can find these slides right now on my website.” As powerful as Slideshare is (and it is!) you don’t want attendees getting lost there. You want them on your site.

Create Tweetable Slides — Want people to tweet your talk? Create tweetable content. Interestingly enough many speakers have started taking key ideas — quotes, stats, take-aways — and turning them into simple slides with a hashtag for the event or, better yet, your talk to foster conversations.

Get Video of Your Talk – You have that friend that owes you a favor, right? Have them get a quick video of your presentation. You can send this out after your presentation and beyond.

After the Event

Connect — The event doesn’t end after the last session. Strike while the iron is hot. Chances are you’ll have a lot of new connections after you speak. Have a plan for following up ASAP. If you engage right away you’ll be topical and relevant. If you wait until your audience is back at work it’ll sound like your following up on the new business cards you received. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — social media’s just a little bit different.

Share It All! — You should also share all of the content you made from your presentation — your blog post, slides on Slideshare, and the video of you speaking.

Create Even More Content — Beyond all of this, there’s always other content you can mine from conferences. Did other sessions inspire you, either in favor or against? Blog it out in the weeks ahead. Another great secret is taking the questions you received at the end of your session and turning them into additional content as well. If your audience has a question offline they probably have it online as well. This is all fuel for your social media campfire.

Ongoing Promotion

To ensure that you have a steady schedule of speaking events on your calendar, be sure to create a speaking page at your brand’s hub – your blog or website. You’ll want to make sure you embed your video content here too. Conference organizers want to see you in action. Here’s my speaking page as an example.

Make sure you share this page across your social channels extensively. Many in your community may not know that you are available as a speaker. I recommend setting up a regular campaign via a tool like HootSuite so that this page is a consistent part of your outgoing social activity.

Is This Thing On?

In short, your talk is already social in the traditional sense. With a few new tricks you can build some social habits that will help your speaking become an integrated part of your brand’s social experience.

How do you make your presentations more social?

Photo via Flickr user cdsessums