How to give a great speech at the summit and build your audience

Congratulations on proposing a talk for the writing style summit! 

Here is my guide to getting yourself ready to:

  1. deliver a fantastic talk to a large and engaged audience.
  2. be rewarded for it.

There are lots of "rewards" for giving a well-received speech / panel / training session.

This guide, however, will focus on two main things: A. building an audience and B. earning money.

At any moment, feel free to book a Zoom call with me and we can discuss this stuff face-to-face: Daniel's Zoom schedule.

How to use this guide

I want to talk you through the entire speaking process, the whole cycle, from submitting your speech to deciding what to do after the summit. And I want to explain what the event is and why we're doing it this particular way.

And I think this guide is a fun read! 

But that means that you might want to skip the parts that don't apply to you. 

Here's how.

Quick start tips

Experienced Speaker

You already know what your speech will be. You're just curious how this event will work and how to make the most of it. So we'll skip the opening.

New-ish to Summits

You're a great writer and teacher. But you're still building your talk and are curious what advice I have. So let's talk through this step-by-step.

Affiliate / sponsor

You are involved in this summit as an affiliate: you're not speaking but you're going to share the event with your readers / followers. You're powerful.

In other words...

If you are an affiliate / sponsor of the event, and not speaking, you might want to start here: "Earning Affiliate Income."

If you are an expert and experienced speaker, you should feel free to skip the section on designing your presentation, and start at "Promoting Your Talk."

If you are wonderingwhat IS this event? Why would anyone watch my talk? What should I talk about? … then you might prefer to just work your way through… but make sure you read until the more philosophical, big-picture-y sections towards the end.

But — wherever you are in your speech-giving career — you should also feel free to read from the start!

If you ever find something unclear, feel free to book a time to talk to me or ask me a question by clicking the chat icon.

First: What is this event?

This is an online event — a summit — for writers who want to improve their writing skills.

It is free for attendees to watch live (every talk is also available for 24 hours after it posts), but if they want to watch the talks at their own pace, and ALSO get a package of bonuses, they need to sign up for an "All Access Pass."

Currently the All Access Pass costs $47.

The summit features over a dozen successful writers, editors, and teachers.

What is a "summit"?

What's the difference between a "summit" and a "conference" or a "festival"?

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure. One element that marks a "summit," however, is that it is formed out of a collective effort by the speakers and sponsors. It isn't a big conference run by a grand institution. Rather, the group contributing to the event pool their audiences and skills to create something remarkable — beyond the power of one person to create alone.

This should feel good: a few Ethical rules for speakers and affiliates

Here's how I would like this summit to go.

  • The summit experience should be a good one for attendees. They should experience it as a joyful few days where the speakers and hosts have their best interests at heart. In other words: I see it as my job, as host, to protect your audience — to make them feel welcome, entertained, and valued.
  • The summit experience should also be a good one for speakers and affiliates. If something happens that you don't like, let me know, either immediately or after you've had time to think it over.
  • We don't make people feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This means doing our imperfect best to avoid comments, images, or jokes that slight or mock women, gay people, trans people, people of colour, and people with disabilities.
  • If attendees are causing trouble, we ask them politely to stop. If that doesn't work, we remove them from the session. I also have a zero-tolerance approach to attendees being rude to speakers. As I explain to attendees, they are welcome to be upset with me, the host, but they are not allowed to say negative things about the speaker.
  • We don't share or sell email addresses. An attendee should only receive emails / facebook messages etc from sources they have signed up for / consented to. The only way an attendee should receive direct communication from me is that they signed up for the summit or my mailing list; the only way an attendee should receive communication from a speaker is that they opted in to hear from that speaker.
  • Right now, there is no Facebook tracking pixel on the summit. That is just a personal choice I've made, and I don't imagine it would work for every online business, but — in general — I would appreciate that speakers and affiliates avoid harvesting attendee data in a way that the attendee would find upsetting. Feel free to post on social media, run ads, use the pixel yourself and so on — but don't creep people out in ways they are not expecting.

Confirm your Speaking spot

(If you're already confirmed your place, or you know I created your profile for you, skip to the next part.)

If not, this part is simple but important:

  1. Come up with a title for your talk, a brief bio, a brief explanation of what you will say, and a photo of yourself.
  2. Go here to submit your talk to the summit website.

Doing this allows me to book you in my draft schedule and it activates many of the cool features I will mention below.

When you get there, the page will look like this:

an image of the sign up form

Questions about this form

The form seems so simple! But parts may be confusing.

  • All dates and times are in NYC / US East Coast time.
  • If you are recording your talk by yourself, just put in whatever date you want. I will change it later.
  • If you are recording your talk with me, feel free to suggest a day for us to meet. 1pm East Coast is usually a good option for me Monday - Friday.
  • If you are delivering the talk live, feel free to select the day you want.
  • If you are not presenting as part of a company, just leave the company / role boxes blank. I salute you, free spirit. In fact, many creative people will want this option. There's no need to write "none" etc.
  • Do I need to have written the speech yet? No. This is just to get you in the system.
just the same form annotated, repeating the instructions above

Okay! Go do it now, so I know you're confirmed to speak: submit your talk.

Then come back and keep reading.

Send in your talk title now, even if it's just a rough draft.

I mean — you don't have to just yet. Maybe you're the kind of person who likes to read all the instructions first, playing your enemies like a game of chess. I respect that.

But make sure to submit your talk soon!

Okay. Let's move on.

How to Log in

Once you're in the system, either because I created your account or because your talk proposal was approved, you can log in to edit your talk, bio, and other details. 

However, the log-in button is strangely hidden! 

P.S. If you want to log in straight from this page, just click the above image — or this link to the log in page.

Planning your talk

First of all: your talk is going to be great!

I'm so impressed by you.

Here are some tips to make it even better.

Two common complaints

I've asked my readers what they dislike in a talk. They replied with two main complaints — things they have seen in past online events that they didn't like.

(I always feel unsure typing advice like this out, because the only people who need it won't read it. You almost certainly won't do these things. But — maybe it will be useful to help you plan your talk.)

The two most common complaints are:

  1. A talk that is only your life story or career / publication story. That's not to say you shouldn't introduce aspects of your life, or be personal, or mention your successes to build your credibility, or use painful experiences to illustrate craft lessons. Those are all great elements in a talk. I do them myself. But this complaint does suggest that the audience is here to improve their own writing, first and foremost, so they will get frustrated by talks that just seem to be a writer / editor recounting a self-congratulatory autobiography.
  2. A talk that is only about you selling something. A normal presentation goes 1. intro - 2. craft lesson - 3. pitch - 4. Q&A. The craft lesson should be the longest component of the four. So if you are pitching your deluxe course from the first slide, many attendees will be unhappy. As you'll see below, there are lots of opportunities outside the actual talk to sell something. So I recommend focusing on delivering a really valuable lesson, and allow the format of this event to give you lots of additional chances to promote yourself to your audience.

How to structure your talk

There are lots of ways to structure a great talk. Here are a few options:

"I was riding high… then it all came crashing down… here the secret I learned…"

You begin with a personal story, explaining something that went wrong in the past, then reveal that you fixed it, and then explain the solution you found — that's the craft lesson. This is an appealing format for a speech because it lets you tell a personal story, establishing both your vulnerability and your credentials. I do a version of this speech that goes: "I was a successful MFA student winning awards… but then my first novel was rejected by publishers… so I decided to figure out what I was doing wrong… leading to a new publisher asking for a manuscript… and what I discovered during that dark time is what I'm teaching you today." I then begin the craft lesson, teaching a technique / approach, while repeatedly referring back to that initial experience, illustrating my mistakes or pointing out common misunderstandings.

"People always tell you to do… but that doesn't make sense because… instead do this…"

This is a really elegant structure if you don't want to base your talk around a personal story. Instead, you can begin by provoking the attendee's curiousity. "Writing teachers always talk about the hero's journey, don't they? They tell you that the structure goes like this… Well here's a funny thing: Joseph Campbell never actually said… And when you look at these famous novels, they actually don't do that thing at all. Instead, they do something else, something I call ___. Here's how you can start using my approach in your novel..."

"You've probably been doing this…. but that doesn't work because… here's a better way…"

This is apparently a stand-by in the webinar world: "Old Way / New Way." It clearly works when done well, but you better be confident you understand your audience properly. It can be awkward if the audience doesn't recognise themselves in your "Old Way." 

"Name the enemy…"

This is a speech structure that I learned about here: "Want a Better Pitch?" (Warning. Elon Musk is there.)

Should I use slides?

Probably.

If you are an experienced Youtuber or radio host, then go ahead and just speak straight to camera. 

This is harder than it seems, however.

Experts at teaching webinar technique generally advise that we use slides, claiming that it's easier for the attendee to pay attention and learn when they don't have to stare at your face for an hour.

If you do decide to use slides, I recommend keeping them simple. One sentence per slide. Or an image. It's always better to use more slides than to try to cram more stuff on fewer slides. 

If you are speaking live, feel free to email me the slides before the session (as a pdf) and I'll upload them to the webinar — so that they are ready for you.

HOw do I sell something?

A standard close in a live speech goes something like...

  1. "So that's the lesson…"
  2. "If you are struggling with the same problems I described…."
  3. "Here's a special offer on my solution…"
  4. "And here is the evidence it works…"

Don't be embarrassed to sell something. Most of the audience in this summit will be familiar with online writing teachers and their offers / courses / pdf downloads. People care deeply about their writing and want to get better.

It's certainly possible to pitch and sell a $200+ product live. But if you are new to speaking, you might be better off pitching a free offer. You'll be less stressed and the chance of success is higher. 

I recommend sending people to a landing page where they can sign up for something free — in exchange for their email address:

  • a free chapter or excerpt
  • the waiting list to your course
  • a portion of the course 
  • a simple pdf download

This approach is low-stakes and gets people on your mailing list. Then you can try multiple times to pitch your paid product. Often people just need time to figure out if they have time to join your course / product etc. 

If you aren't sure what a landing page is, here's one of mine as an example: Write Better Sentences

If you have questions how you would get people to sign up to your mailing list, I recommend you create a free account with ConvertKit. It's a great email tool that I have used for the past four years, and I've built my entire online teaching business around it. ConvertKit is free until you hit 1,000 subscribers or want to use it in more complex ways. 

I love ConvertKit. Sign up with my affiliate link and I'll give you all the tech support and advice you need: Get a free ConvertKit account.

Remember: we have lots of other ways to promote you to attendees. So don't stress about this part of the talk.

P.S. Be clear with people what they are signing up for. If you plan to email them after the event is over, say so. On your landing page, write something like "Get my author calendar and other tips." 

I often say something like: "Get my free __. I will follow up with advice and additional resources."

WHAT IF I need more time?

You only have an hour for your talk / panel. But if you need to go over the time limit because you have so much to share, that's great: record those extra thoughts in a video / Zoom recording and send them to me as bonus content for the event. 

I'll explain more later.

Once I record, am I done?

It's 100% up to you! If you have recorded a session in advance, and you know I've received it and are happy with it, your work is done.

However, if you would like to show up during the live airing of your talk, and answer questions from the audience in the comments, people would really appreciate it. Those sessions were the highest ranked talks of the last summit I helped to host. 

Promotion

Online life is different to physical life. They aren't the same.

To put it simply: how people pay attention online is different to how they do in "face to face" life.

I believe this is because when you are "online" — sitting at a desk or staring at a phone — you can do ANYTHING. You could put your phone down. You could check Instagram. You could buy a book and start reading it. You could message that weird ex of yours. 

Don't do that.

The point is: online, we are both more powerful and more distracted. We have more options but our baseline, normal output is a mix of hesitation, boredom, and impatience.

What this means is that if you want to promote something online, you can't apply normal real-world standards to it. You can't just share it the way you would in physical life.

What I mean is — you have to mention something A LOT before people even register what you're saying. You have to share, share, share and share again just to break through that "Do I have any new emails yet?" haze in which most people spend their online lives.

If you met someone in a real-world, physical-life party, and she said that she ran a 5k that morning, it would likely be memorable. You would quickly connect the face with the story. And if you saw her again a week later, and she said the same thing, it would seem like over-kill. Okay, 5k girl, I get it: you're SO damn healthy.

But that's not how things work online. If a friend posts on Instagram that they ran a 5k, I might not even see it. And if I did, it just doesn't register the same way. I've got a lot going on! Maybe this was their first ever 5k. Maybe it's something they do regularly. Huh. I don't know. I don't form an opinion on it. Huh.

It would take a dozen posts about running a 5k before I started to think of this friend as "5k girl."

Similarly, if a colleague emails about an event, I might pay enough attention to check it out. But I get a lot of emails, and I'm probably reading the message on my phone when I'm supposed to be making my son's lunch. It's likely I'll be distracted back to the real world before I finish the email.

In the online world, you need to be frequent or you're not real.

It's only when you post regularly that people begin to understand: "Oh, this is serious. I'm actually supposed to go to this talk my friend is doing."

As long as you vary things up, and don't make people feel bad, you can talk about the speech you're giving a lot, and no one will mind. As long as you keep things light and interesting, people are happy to read about what you're doing.

I email my mailing list almost every day of the week. I get close to zero complaints, and a lower unsubscribe rate than when I emailed once a week.

In fact, if someone unsubscribes from you or unfollows you — that's a good sign! It means that you become real enough for them to make a decision about you. They actually registered your existence. Slowly you are becoming "5k girl" in their head — or, in this case, "Amazing-speaker-at-a-fascinating-event person."

Now, after they registered your existence, they decided to stop following you, which is obviously not ideal. But it's likely a sign that OTHER people on your email list or social media account are quietly starting to pay attention. 

--

Okay.

Your exact frequency depends whether you have an email list, Youtube following, or social media presence. But I would email your mailing list about the summit at least once a week, and post on social media… twice a week?

Send out the affiliate link (see below) to the summit over and over again.

Keep each message short.

Act like you are discovering the event, too, and you're excited — which is true. Keep reminding them that the event is free to attend. Vary things up: one day talk about your own session. Another day mention how curious you are about a different speaker's presentation. A third day share a picture of your notes or slides as you work on your speech.

Each time you do this, you are becoming more real to your audience. 

What do I actually say? What do I tell my readers?

I created four sample emails for you to send here, with dates attached: Emails to send to your audience.

I encourage you to re-write them in your own tone! But I think a basic schedule of three emails before the event, and one after, is a good starting point.

Basically, as long as you...

  • sound low-stress and relaxed
  • share one new thing about your talk or the event itself
  • include your personal link (more info below)

… you can send as many messages / post as often as you like.

I personally recommend creating a questionnaire for your readers, and asking them what they want you to talk about. People enjoy being listened to! You might choose to create a Facebook event if a lot of your audience is on Facebook, for example.

I will also be in touch, before the event, if there are new giveaways that your audience might like to hear about.

One exception to this "Email them a lot" rule

During the actual summit, the summit software itself will be sending out a lot of emails. People will get a lot of automatic reminders. So I wouldn't keep up your usual email frequency to the people who have already registered. Let the system take care of that.

Get the pre-made images

The software tool I'm using for this event, Heysummit, helpfully creates some easy to share images for us to use. 

You just have to log in and — if it's your first time — "forget" your password. This will send you a new password link to use.

forget your password screen

This will bring you to your speaker dashboard. Here you can get a ready-made share image and a ready-made tweet. 

You can also update your bio and talk details.

Being an affiliate

I encourage everyone involved in this summit to become an affiliate. 

It's possible to be a speaker and an affiliate. 

It's also possible to be an affiliate and not speak. 

Both are great!

The idea is simple: if someone uses your affiliate link, registers, and buys the All Access Pass, we split the proceeds 50/50.

For speakers

If you are a speaker, you should now agree to be an affiliate. This is important.

Log into your speaker dashboard (you may have to "forget" your password to do this for the first time.)

Click the button that says "Create an Affiliate Account."

click the affiliate button

Now you should use your unique share URL every time you talk about this event. It works by email, social etc.

Try to avoid just sharing styleandvoice.com or summit.styleandvoice.com — always use the full link with the letters at the end.

This will track in the system everyone who signs up via your link.

And if they later buy the All Access Pass, you get 50% of the proceeds.

*this is obviously not a guarantee of income. It's completely dependent on how many people you send over, and how many of them buy the pass. I will do my best to make the pass irresistible, but I can't guarantee, or even really predict, what this will mean for you. But it could be good. 

For affiliates

If you are an affiliate, the situation is simple! 

Just like with the speakers, if someone uses your affiliate link and buys the All Access Pass, we split the proceeds 50/50.

To sign up as an affiliate, scroll to the bottom of the summit page. 

Click the unfriendly link "Join Our Partner Program."

Or just click the image below.

Once you create an account, you will be assigned a link. It's just for you.

Use that link all the time. Share it with everyone! 

This link will allow the summit software to track sign ups and purchases made via your unique link.

affiliate area

To repeat: the summit is free to watch live. So sharing your affiliate link is not a guarantee of income. People might not register using your link, or they might register but not buy the All Access Pass.

*Being an affiliate is not a guarantee of income.*

But the more you share your link, the more chances you have that people will use it to sign up and buy. So talk about the summit: talk about a speaker you know. Talk about a prize giveaway. Talk about a writing style and writing voice problem you have that you hope the summit will solve.

And as an affiliate, you are welcome to contribute a bonus to the All Access Pass. That's another way to build your audience.

Rules for affiliates

Payouts come 30 days after the ticket is sold.

They are net of refunds: so if a person requests a refund, neither of us get that income, sadly.

Please don't do anything unscrupulous with your affiliate link. I know you wouldn't do that, but I'm just a solo entrepreneur here, working on this in my spare time, and I really don't want to have to untangle something dubious during or after the summit.

Feel absolutely free to share the hell out of your affiliate link. Put it on Pinterest. Buy ads on Facebook. Drive your uncles and aunts bonkers with your demands that they register. I encourage you to share the link frequently. But the goal for this summit is, to repeat, to give everyone a good, honest experience, from start to finish. 

Don't do stuff that would contravene that philosophy — or which would take advantage of some loop-hole in the summit's software.

Specifically, please do not:

  • Use your own affiliate link to buy stuff yourself (if you want an All Access Pass, just ask me).
  • Promise results the summit cannot deliver ("Register to get a million dollar advance at Simon and Schuster!")
  • Share the link in places that specifically forbid self-promotion, like Facebook groups that you don't run yourself (this is why an email mailing list is so valuable — you get to set the rules).

I have never had to do this in the past, but I reserve the right to investigate problems, delay payments, or remove people from the affiliate program who break these rules or who try to deliberately harm the rest of the summit.

How the all access pass works

Remember how I said that online life is not like real life? 

Here's another mystery of online.

Free things work well but cheap things often don't.

Huh?

This is my understanding of the issue: online, people will try out lots of things for free. And that's great.

But if something costs $100, and you halve the price, you don't usually double the number of buyers. This is why a lot of experienced online audience-builders sell very expensive courses ($1,000 +). Does the person who made the course need to spend one thousand dollars to make it available to the next interested person? Of course not. It likely costs them almost nothing. Each new purchaser is almost free from the seller's perspective (aside from a little extra web hosting and customer support).

An online course creator could surely spend, at most, $100 per new person on customer support, and still make a massive profit if they sold their course at $200 — right?

Not really. That's the mystery. These experts generally don't reduce the price of their main courses and products. Because reducing the price doesn't increase their income. More people buy, of course, if you halve the price — but not double the number of people.

What this hazy principle suggests, I think, is that online activity is all about attention. People aren't looking at our books, workshops, editing services and so on the same way they shop for a pair of shoes. They aren't looking for the cheapest course on how to write a novel, or, at least, that's not all they are doing. Rather, they are trying to weigh up if this online thing is worth paying attention to.

This is another reason why it's okay to share the event more frequently than you might think. You're not just telling people the event exists. You're showing that it's worth engaging with.

Our goal during the summit is to make the event worth paying attention to. We're aiming to make people think "The thing I've always wanted to do? I should really work on it — and these people can help me."

And then our goal is to make the All Access Pass seem worth their time — even a rare opportunity to make progress. 

Just to be clear: 

As I mentioned before, if an attendee watches the entire event live, they can get every session for free. After 24 hours, in order to watch a particular talk, they need to buy the Pass. And they will receive a range of extra bonuses, supplied by us.

I will supply some bonuses myself. It would be great if you supplied something yourself, too.

Why contribute a bonus to the All Access Pass?

Because it...

  1. Makes the all access pass more appealing in general and so increases your chance of earning affiliate income.
  2. Makes people interested in you and more likely to seek you out.
  3. Places your bonus behind an email sign up so you can contact them later.

What could you supply?

  • A pdf / guide / mini-course
  • A free ebook
  • A free chapter of your book
  • A discount on your services
  • A free sample of your services

Make a follow-up video

What's the best practice?

Here's what I've been told. The best option is a follow-up lesson. Record a second video, in other words, where you go hands-on, and make that available only to the Pass buyers.

Your talk in the summit explains the technique. Your bonus video / pdf / audio file walks the attendees, step by step, how to do that thing — or it shows you doing it yourself. If you explained a technique during your talk, then in a follow up video, audio file, or essay, you might give a practical, hands on lesson or example of that technique.

People love examples. Maybe you described, in your talk, how Charles Dickens began one novel. In your bonus video, you screen cast the text itself and talk over the first page, highlighting key moments as you go.

P.S. Unless you know what you are doing, I would advise not offering free coaching calls / free phone calls / free editing. You might end up spending a lot of time.

How to send me your bonus

Just give me a link / file, an image, and an explanation. That could be the web address to your bonus OR the web address of a sign up page where the buyer could input their details.

(To be clear: the most annoying thing in the world is unwanted email. So I don't share any email addresses with anyone. I think that's unethical. So if you simply send me the link to the file, I can't later tell you who went to pick it up. In other words, I can't tell you who grabbed it.)

Set up your speaker dashboard (optional)

This next part is optional: you might now add a few items to your speaker dashboard. These are bonuses and offers shown to attendees.

Don't feel like you have to do any of this. The next three items are optional. Please don't feel like you need to invent a bunch of stuff for this event. If you create a great talk and supply a bonus for the all access pass, that's enough.

But the functionality to add a few more things does exist in the system, so I thought I would explain them here. They are actually pretty cool. 

link to a freebie

This is perhaps the most useful of the three, especially if your talk is recorded in advance (because then attendees will spend a lot of time on the page where the freebie is posted). I recommend making this something digital, like an ebook or infographic that can be sent out automatically — but it's up to you. The purpose is to give people a reason to sign up to your newsletter: create a landing page with ConvertKit to collect email addresses and names if you don't already have this set up.

Create a Prizedraw Giveaway

A "giveaway" is a prize that one or more attendees can win at random. It is meant to encourage attendees to share the summit with friends and to come to your session. I would recommend keeping this small and easy for you to send to the winner.  

Add an "exclusive offer"

These discounts / offers are sent out with the day's replays. Feel free to offer something but keep it simple.

offers

Five ways to win

To conclude:

I loathe it when people say "I'll pay you in exposure."

But the standard practice in a summit is not to pay speakers.

So what's the plan? How will this be valuable for you?

Five ways to win

  1. You pitch your book / services in your talk
  2. You share a bonus in the All Access Pass that people sign up for 
  3. You include a freebie, giveaway, and / or offer in your speaker set up.
  4. You earn affiliate income from people who used your link to buy the All Access Pass
  5. You do a follow-up event with me during 2021, where you pitch your offer to my audience

Wrap up: what you need to create

You need to:

  • Submit speech idea.
  • Decide on bonus content (ideally a follow-up lesson).
  • Decide if you are speaking live, recording in advance with me, or solo.
  • Get your log-in info. Forget your password and set a new one.
  • Set up your affiliate account and get your affiliate link.
  • Get your promo images.
  • Get the example emails / social posts (to follow).
  • Create a calendar to post / email.
  • Send me / talk to me about a bonus for the all access pass
  • Create your speaker dashboard bonus
  • If you haven't created an email list, I recommend ConvertKit.
  • Start emailing / posting your affiliate link!

Questions??

Let me know.

Daniel

info @ danieldavidwallace.com

THE Style Summit

A fantastic event for writers.

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