How to speak at RD Summit: what and how we evaluate to choose our team of speakers
There is a whole context for setting up the grid and our choices, there are countless details and nuances, but you can somehow try to summarize the evaluation criteria
A few days ago I posted on my Instagram the story of the first RD Summit, in 2013. Since then, the less than 20 speakers have turned over 150 per edition and the nearly 300 participants have turned over 12,000. It’s no exaggeration to say that RD Summit became the center of a boiling ecosystem. A lot of content, a lot of business, a lot of good stuff in one place.
With all this growth, there were also many opportunities for those who are in the spotlight. I am proud and immensely happy to have received countless messages saying that the RD Summit was a turning point and that it made a difference in their lives and careers, bringing visibility and authority. And even among highly valued professionals with an immense history of speaking, the feedback that it was the best event/lecture of their lives is not uncommon.
This all brings in many people the desire to be there on stage and for this reason, we always receive the question: what do I do to be among the chosen ones? This is the first time that Blue World City has written in a longer and more detailed way about the topic and it serves as a guide to help those who fall into this stage.
The 3 Great Pillars of Speaker Review
There is a whole context for setting up the grid and our choices, there are countless details and nuances, but you can somehow try to summarize the evaluation criteria in 3 main pillars:
Content is the centerpiece of the event, which connects everything, so obviously it’s something we’re going to evaluate before choosing someone. You can break content into a few different things:
RD Summit has in mind the professional of a growing (or growing) small or medium business. This professional can be from different areas and levels of experience, we have different paths for that.
Not that other personas can’t participate, but the event wasn’t made for them. It is the ideal persona and her problem that will be reflected in the lectures. That’s why you won’t find lectures on “How we innovate in TV campaigns integrating ON and OFF”. This is not a common problem for the small and medium companies we serve. Nor will there be “How to make money at home” or “Get rich doing XYZ”, we are not targeting individuals creating their own product.
It’s worth looking at the tracks we have there: Beginner Digital Marketing, Advanced Digital Marketing, Content, Marketing – Other Concepts, Sales, Customer Success, Management and Strategy, Personal Development, Success Agencies, Inspiring Stories, Product and Technology and RD Station. It is always recommended to look at the agenda and lectures from previous years to understand the footsteps we are following. Techniques that we do not endorse, such as those that can compromise the customer experience, prioritize the short term, harming the long term, etc., are not included.
With the exception of the agency market, we ended up not including lectures focused on segments, such as the “Digital Marketing for real estate companies” line. That’s because the audience is very diverse and no segment has enough percentage for a large audience, capable of filling a room. And an empty room is synonymous with overcrowding in others, which we want to avoid as much as possible.
Depth, real experiences and practical bias
Of course, some end up coming in and being necessary, but the RD Summit is not an event to bring abstract concepts and ideas. It’s a hands-on event! We want people who talk about a subject not to talk just because they read a book and took a course, summarized what they learned and are sharing.
We want them to talk about what they put into practice, see what works and what doesn’t, optimize and do more testing. The content comes from experience and incredible results. We are not called Digital Results for nothing 🙂
2. Presentation ability
At the beginning of events, we cared less about that. We were looking for people who really had amazing results in the themes we wanted and we put them there to talk about it.
What we’ve discovered over time is that the ability to give good presentations is as or more important than technical knowledge. People assess very differently the speakers who have this skill and those who do not, even when the information and technical knowledge are of the highest level.
Knowing how to project your voice, speak fluidly and without language addictions, have a good body posture, use the ups and downs of tone (a single tone is so bad that we see monotonous as synonymous with boring). Other than that, it’s important not to feel the pressure of a super audience eager for high-level content, so trust is also a requirement.
Having spoken many times and at many events is not necessarily mandatory to be at the RD Summit (we pride ourselves on mining and “revealing” a lot of good people), but on the other hand, it is rare for someone to reach these presentation skills without having practiced and improved a lot with experience.
Engages knows how to tell good stories and build a good script
Knowing how to filter which content to put and which to take out, knowing how to deliver value to each speech and connecting everything in an engaging story goes beyond the stage domain, it’s an art. We want these artists!
Just saying that you work at company X, Y or Z, which is large and has great processes, does not guarantee that the lecture is engaging and has the right script. I’m impressed by the amount of professionals from top companies that get lost in this.
3. Alignment with RD
We are curators of the event, we attract people who like our way of thinking about business, our values and our choices. For us to deliver the promise and fulfill expectations, it is essential that there are some important alignments between the event and the speaker.
The event mindset is to deliver maximum value. We want talks that are rich in content and useful to the public. We do not allow commercial tone at events. We do not allow lectures that show only the results and end up selling a course on how to get there, without giving the way. Not lectures that show you how to use a product and say that buying that product is the solution to all problems.
Our curatorship team has no relationship with the commercial team, which sells sponsorships and booths. We do not sell lectures and we do not guarantee space to any sponsor. We also do not guarantee that a sponsor’s competitor will not be on stage if the content and the lecture meet everything we are looking for. But of course, if the sponsor also has this alignment, he will be evaluated and can be chosen, like anyone who applies to speak.
Yes, we are looking for the best speakers, we do not have an event with jabá lectures and the total focus is on content. But neither are we an NGO or an immaculate deity. We have commercial interests, we want to grow fast and help more and more companies. We want to leave competitors behind and strengthen our market share.
It is natural that we do not highlight who promotes a campaign against our way of working, our methodology and our tool. We are not going to give an audience and focus to those who are ambassadors and have very close relationships with our competitors.
There’s no need to talk about us, not even out and even less on stage, but you can’t deliver the ball on a platter to the opponent either.
The RD Summit has a very clear code of conduct and speakers are also evaluated and must meet the same criteria. The content of the lectures on stage and the positions of the speakers communicated off stage must be in accordance with the principles we believe in, of valuing and respecting diversity and ethics in professional performance and practices. Some “jokes” of very dubious taste were already a reason for some, even with good content, not to be invited again. Others also didn’t come back because they were disrespectful to our support team.
There should be no content that disrespects anyone, especially by gender, sexual orientation or ethnic groups. There should be no political demonstration in the lecture. There must be no techniques that deceive the public into selling. There should be no lying when telling experiences. All of these make up the speaker’s reputation, which we have to evaluate very carefully, as the speaker’s reputation makes up the RD Summit’s reputation.
Our choice process
Having indicated the evaluation criteria, we advanced a little in the 5 steps of the selection process.
Step 0 – Where do we get the names
The names are divided as follows:
- They’ve participated with us in previous events;
- Are from the relationship or indication of our team;
- They are indications of participants in the feedback forms;
- They spoke at other major events and institutions;
- They are RDoers and participate in an internal selection process;
- Apply and ask to speak ( anyone can do this on this form ).
One aspect here is very important: we believe in the power of diversity and we actively invest in it. As an example, while only 15% of people who applied on the speaker form last year were women, gender was about 35% of all speakers (and the goal is to continue to approach 50% this year).
More than welcome, diversity (gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical abilities) is a priority for us! The process everyone goes through is the same, but at step 0 we are more proactive in looking for people from groups that are historically less represented. If that’s your case, we’ll look even more closely at your candidacy.
Step 1 – History Analysis
For those who have already spoken at an event with us, the note speaks volumes. We’re obsessed with feedback from the public, and anyone who’s scored below what we expect will dramatically decrease their chances of coming back.
We also do all the evaluation of the relationship with us, extra events, involvement in controversies and everything else that we indicate in the “alignment” item.
Step 2 – Theme evaluation
There are two types of theme fittings in RD Summit: the ones we seek and the ones we accept.
At least half of the themes we fill with a grid with content that we look for and think it’s mandatory to be at the event. It’s as if we took a course on the main subjects, with everything one needs to know, and we drew up a menu, filling in the speakers as if each one were a class. They are basic lectures, which work on concepts and good practices.
We will always have, for example, a lecture on content management, one on first steps in SEO, another to bring good practices in email marketing, another with an introduction to the overview of Inbound Marketing and so on. They are often more basic themes but, curiously, they tend to have fewer candidates. People end up going much more towards the second type of theme.
On that other side are the lectures on topics that we didn’t foresee. For example, a lecture on “X practical lessons I learned from implementing Inbound in company Y”, “What riding a bike taught me about sales” or “Marketing Trends for 2020”. These are very valid experiences and nice lectures, which bring knowledge that goes beyond the base and initial concepts.
The only relevant observation here is that it is much more difficult for us to evaluate and guarantee that the content will be good on this type of topic when we don’t know the speaker yet, because the title is a real black box. What can come from there is unpredictable, following many different paths and contents (which may or may not be aligned with what we want). When a speaker has been to our events and has had a great track record, it’s easier to give that “vote of confidence”.
For those who don’t know that well yet and are applying, it becomes even more important to give indications of all credentials to prove that the content will be good. Indicate links to content that the speaker has already produced and results he has had, bring videos and lecture history. The assessment has to go much deeper. We’re not going to give the lecture “The 10 Fundamentals of Branding Lessons” to someone from a small agency that has never been recognized for it and hasn’t had any outstanding cases, for example.
Step 3 – Speaker Evaluation
If the topic sounds cool, the next step is to evaluate what we present as item 2 in the evaluation criteria: presentation capacity.
There is one way that someone on the committee has seen the person performing a few times, but that is a little rarer. The most common is that we receive (or look for) videos of people speaking.
It’s amazing how many candidates have theme alignment but we can’t find a single video speaking, which leads to elimination at the time (we can’t run the risk of having someone who speaks poorly at an event like the RD Summit, where the expectations of the audience are very high).
If you don’t have a recording of an event, there is no financial cost to do at home, even recording a lecture with your cell phone and slides on TV. And this is often enough to show its value.
Step 4 – Committee Discussion
To make the decisions to choose someone or not, there is a committee, in which I am part together with other people, from different positions and areas in RD.
We split the initial candidate assessments between these people. When a name is approved or nominated by someone, that person takes it to the approval of the whole group.
A name is not rejected or chosen by me or another member, it is a group decision.
Step 5 – Speaker Status
With the committee’s assessment, a speaker can enter 3 types of status: Approved, Failed or “Waiting”. Those approved and rejected are unanimous, for yes and no.
The “waiting” are the ones who split up and stand in a kind of queue. We are evaluating more names and filling in the grid. At the end, there is usually a number of vacancies and topics left, in which the waiting speakers return for a recap. That’s why for many people the definitive answer ends up dragging a lot and taking a while, because there’s still a chance.
We would like to give detailed feedback to each one, but unfortunately it is very difficult. There are thousands of names evaluated in a very short space of time. This is all in the same period that we do all of our other “normal” day-to-day assignments (only one of the people on the committee is actually curated, the others work on other assignments and do a parallel dedication).
In short, this is how we choose our speakers. That’s the process and that’s the criteria for each of the names that’s there!
Did you like it? Join us! Speakers receive a ticket, accommodation and admission for the 3 days, as well as a ticket for 1 companion. Just enter the link and make your application .
There is a whole context for setting up the grid and our choices, there are countless details and nuances, but you can somehow try to summarize the evaluation criteria A few days ago I posted on my Instagram the story of the first RD Summit, in 2013. Since then, the less than 20 speakers have turned over…