Want to do More Speaking? Get Ready for Your Close-up! 

By Rob Biesenbach

As leaders and business owners, many of us speak regularly at industry conferences and other events. If you’ve enjoyed some success as a speaker and want to do more of it, one of the most important things you can do is assemble a visual portfolio — photos and video of you in action. 

Why Pictures and Video Are Essential to Your Success

After all, pictures are said to be worth a thousand words. (You heard it here first.) And video has become absolutely vital. I’ve done more than 50 speaking engagements in the past two years and have found more and more conferences are asking for video clips as evidence of a speaker’s skills. 

And for paying clients? It’s pretty much a minimum requirement. Simply put: it’s not enough to be a subject matter expert; you need to show that you can wow an audience with your delivery technique.

I was going to address this in my Spring Conference presentation on advanced public speaking tips, but it turns out I’ve got more to say than can possibly fit into a one-hour session! So I thought I’d share some thoughts here on how to assemble your portfolio.

Rely on the Kindness of Strangers (And Friends)

A good start in building your portfolio is to enlist audience members for help. I know a speaker who looks for a friendly face in the crowd and asks that person to shoot a few photos on their phone. (Sometimes he bribes them with a book or a Starbucks card.)

And after your talk, make it a point to download any photos that show up on social media.

I also take screen caps of favorable tweets, which work great as testimonials.

Hire Your Own

Another option is to pay for professional photography and videography. And with so many freelancers out there, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get quality video and photos

Just be sure to check out their portfolio and have a conversation about your expectations. Ask if they’ve recorded speakers before and if they’re familiar with the venue.

If you’re speaking out of town ask the event organizer if there’s someone local they can recommend.

Negotiate for Photos and Video

Many conferences don’t have speaker budgets. But just because they can’t pay you doesn’t mean there aren’t other things of value they can provide. Comping the registration fee is a typical one. Explore what else they can offer.

Will the event be recorded on video? If so, ask for a copy of it for your own use. Will there be a still photographer there? Ask for the photos.

Even if they weren’t planning for videography and photography, they might agree to do it if you ask. And if you’re speaking to a group of communicators or marketers, chances are someone there has the skills and equipment to do the job.

Put It in a Contract

A few years ago I was speaking at a PRSA event where one of the chapter members, a professional photographer, was taking photos. I saw the pictures on Facebook and wanted some for myself, so I emailed her afterwards. (Always get the photographer’s contact info, by the way.)

She said she’d be happy to oblige … for a fee of $300.

That surprised me at first, but it shouldn’t have — of course she should be paid for her work! Now it would have been nice if the conference had paid her, but instead it fell to me.

So I got a great idea from a fellow speaker and added this clause to my speaking agreements:

If the event is being photographed, Speaker is entitled to receive and use in his own publicity any photos at no charge to him. In return, Client has a license to use Speaker’s image for future promotional use.

What I like about this language is that it establishes a mutually beneficial transaction — as opposed to me asking them for something.

Tips for Getting Quality Photos and Footage

Once you’ve made the arrangements, here are a few tips to help you get the best results:

  • For video, sound is just as important as the picture. Make sure the videographer plugs into the venue’s sound system. If they’re just recording ambient sound, the viewer experience will be lousy. 
  • Make sure some of the videos and stills include audience members in the frame. Bonus points if they’re laughing or clapping. Just be careful: if the people are identifiable, you should check with your lawyer about proper usage.
  • Plan your wardrobe. I once spoke in a dim luncheon room with walnut paneling, making the black suit I was wearing an unfortunate choice. On video it faded right into the background. Check out the room in advance, either in person or online, and adjust your outfit accordingly.
  • Take off your nametag — it steals focus from your pretty face!
  • Think like an editor. Your final product will be easier and cheaper to edit if you don’t have to do a lot of splicing and dicing. So keep your content tight and on point. Those fun little asides that you think up in the moment don’t work as well on video as they do live.

Come to My Breakout for Advanced Speaking Tips

Be sure to check out my breakout session at the Spring Conference where I’ll be sharing advanced tips to take your next presentation from good to great, including:

  • Move like Jagger. No, I won’t be busting out my dance moves, but I will show you how to better use your body to get your message across.
  • Ways to make technology your friend and not your foe.
  • How to prepare, including my totally unpatented five-step rehearsal process.
  • Preventing mistakes from derailing your presentation.
  • And more …

I can’t wait to see everyone in Seattle!

Through workshops, consulting and books, Rob Biesenbach helps business professionals deliver greater impact and influence through better communications. He’s advised and trained hundreds of CEOs and other executives on their presentation content and technique and is a professional speaker himself. His latest book is 11 Deadly Presentation Sins. If you’re coming to the Spring Conference, consider attending his breakout, 10 Advanced Speaking Tips to Super-charge Your Next Presentation.

Photo credit: freeimages.com