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What We Talk About

Finding the RIGHT experts for your summit can be… overwhelming. Who do you pick? What topics do you cover? And where the heck do you find these people to begin with?!

In this episode we’ll take you through our exact process for finding, securing, and onboarding the perfect summit expert for your event… and we’ll show you who to avoid as a speaker.


The Summit Series:
Episode 144 – The 6 Steps to Take To Prepare For Your Next Virtual Summit
Episode 146 – Virtual Summit Setup: The Tech Essentials for a Successful Summit
Episode 147 – The Dos and Don’ts For Your High-Converting Summit Opt-in Page
Episode 148 – Your Summit Host Engagement Plan – Our Best Tips to Keep Attendee Attention
Episode 149 – Your Post-Summit Sales Plan

Check out the entire library of list building & summit episodes here.

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:02
When I was planning my summit, the thing that stressed me out probably the most was the expert selection, choosing my speakers, figuring out the topics, and making sure that I had the right people. I, yeah, I can't say that I got it 100% Right that first time. But I got it more right than a lot of people do. And Jenny will, she gets it really right a lot of the time. But that's because she's done. About 349 more of these than I

Jennie Wright 0:40
thought you were putting my last name.

Alyson Lex 0:43
Oh, my word. You should see, like, if you're listening, you should see the grin on my face right now at that very unexpected, delightful bit of humor. I love it. And I'm there for it. I'm here for it.

Jennie Wright 1:03
Funny. People always screw this part up this, the speakers are the things that hold people up, because they're literally the biggest. I think they're probably the most important part. And this is the place I think that people can make, there are two huge mistakes people make on summits. And finding and booking the wrong experts is one of the biggest. And then the other one obviously is like how the funnel looks and everything like that. But we'll talk about that in another episode in this series. But finding and getting the right experts blows people's minds, there's a whole bunch of stuff, there's imposter syndrome, I can't ask that person to be on my event. There's so much bigger than me. There's the whole I don't know what to say, I don't know where to find them. You know, then there's the whole friends and family thing where we invite all of our, you know, close bugs, and oh, I've

Alyson Lex 1:54
done that. Oh, I've done that. Oh, it hurts. It hurts.

Jennie Wright 1:57
It hurts my soul. And then there's the premiere speaker fallacy. You know, if you have Oprah, they will come?

Alyson Lex 2:08
Well, to be fair, if you had Oprah, they might.

Jennie Wright 2:12
They might. I mean, I look, I mean, I show up. But the problem with having premiere speakers, is people tend to think if I stack my summit with them, Oh, my God, this is like the best thing ever, when in actual fact? No, but we'll talk about that.

Alyson Lex 2:28
Well, actually, I want to talk about it now. Because you and I are a little different on this. Yeah, we totally, we don't totally agree on it. I have this idea that if you get the big name, just one, maybe two, that that's going to encourage the audiences of all the other speakers to want to show up. And I feel like you really disagree with that. And funnily enough, in all of our not podcast conversations, we've never really talked about why that is, why do you disagree with that? Why does always right, Jenny? Expert, I had to do it. It was stupid, but I had to get it in there somewhere. But like, why in your experience, is that wrong?

Jennie Wright 3:23
My experience has been that premier speakers are more trouble than they're worth. They have, they tend to come with demands, they tend to not promote. They tend to think that by showing up there. And this bit might be a little bit of my own bias. But they might, you know, my experience. And this is not just my own personal experience, but through clients that they there's a bit of ego, they're like, you're lucky to have me on your event kind of thing. And they're not really vested. Right. So they don't for them, they're not going to promote their list because they're, you know, they, weirdly, the bigger your list, the less people are willing to promote. Just FYI. They're not willing to do this stuff. Right? So they're not really a participant and aren't really a speaker. They're just gracing you. And that's not for everybody. And that is I'm blanket statement. This and I and I realized my bias. But this has been my experience. I almost had Lewis Howes on my first summit a long time ago, guys 2012

Alyson Lex 4:32
Yeah. 2013 Yeah, he would Yeah, around then he was in that premiere. Yeah, maybe a little later, I started seeing him on bigger stages and stuff like that. But I know that he was bumping up there.

Jennie Wright 4:47
Yeah, so he said he'd be on my Summit. If I would guarantee that I would sell 100 of his books. So I had to buy the books and then I could resell the books, but I had to buy 100 of his books. Totally get the ticket, the tactic and everything like that. I ended up not going with it because I couldn't guarantee that I would actually sell 100 books, and 100 books were out of my pocket, right. And at the time, it was my first summit and I had no income. So not happening. But, you know, there are summits about summits are about creating community and collaboration. And unless your premiere speaker can help and support that creating collaboration and community, it just feels like we're borrowing on Celebrity. And I just don't think I'm part of that game. And I think,

Alyson Lex 5:36
you know, and maybe it's the world that I can say, grew up in marketing grew up right in, where you do borrow on that celebrity. And that does bring people and that is an exciting thing. So if you look at the live events that I've helped to plan or been a part of marketing or things like that, there's usually a celebrity keynote. And that drives interest. Absolutely. It could also be that some of that interest is on there, to see them speak. So, um, when I was at Glaser, Kennedy, we had Gene Simmons on the stage. We had, I think, Suzanne Somers was, but I think she canceled Joan Rivers. Right. So big name celebrities that had things to add to the business conversation like Gene Simmons, people don't realize what a powerhouse all the kids merchandise. That was Gene Simmons. It was not management or anything. And then I spoke at inbound. And Michelle Obama was there.

Jennie Wright 6:45
Super cool. Yeah. So like that are a draw. Absolutely. Like, I want to see Seth Godin speak in person. i When, when the Obamas came to Toronto, I desperately wanted to go see that. But you know, I didn't I couldn't afford at the time. And I didn't go, but like, I'm not totally against having a premier speaker. But I'm cautiously looking at it just because they the turnout, at least for online events. Doesn't seem to 100% equate to that celebrity, but I'm not 100% against it. And I really am not. I'm really not. And just FYI, I met Joan Rivers. And I got to tour her around the previous big box, or that I worked through, oh, yeah, her in her entourage came into my store. They were they were promoting her jewelry line. The store that I worked at, we worked I worked at a big box retailer, and I got to tour her around the store. And then she gave us one of her necklaces, which, by company policies, I wasn't allowed to accept. But I had to take it. And then we had to donate it, or it would be against company policy. But she was really gracious. And you know, I've heard all sorts of stories about her, but she was really cool in the moment.

Alyson Lex 7:58
Gene Simmons, this is so off topic, but he took the time to do just kind of get to know the staff working the event. And we all got pictures with him. And I this was back in the day have you know your digital cameras separate was separate from your phone. And so I had my digital camera and I was taking everybody's pictures. And then it was my turn. And so I gave the camera to somebody else and he took my glasses off of my face and pulled my shirt open. I think he might have looked down at which I you know, I was single and it was June 7 So go for it. And he put like hooked my glasses, you know you hang your glasses off your short collar and then he put his sunglasses on my face he took them off of his head and put them on my face. I was

Jennie Wright 8:57
I was clumped

Alyson Lex 8:59
as I could not I was beside myself and the person taking the picture didn't focus the camera but sunesson My picture is blurry and it's it's

Jennie Wright 9:13
very sad. But you have the memory All right.

Alyson Lex 9:16
I have the memory so anyway, that is storytime is over. So we've got maybe let's say we do land a premier speaker maybe they're an extra bonus they're not part of our regular lineup. The regular lineup is where the success happens. The the regular speaker lineup and people really struggle here too. Again, they go with the big names they go with the people they have that list minimum thing that we could probably soapbox on that for about an hour and a half.

Jennie Wright 9:49
Do not get me started on the list minimum thing. I will lose it. By the way. Hint. List minimums are BS Okay, onwards.

Alyson Lex 10:02
Well, I know that was an arbitrary number. Yeah, created by the person teaching that or the people teaching that and that number has since changed and all of that. Now, that being said, you want to look for a really engaged list or following, what you want to do is, when you have your expert, put your potential expert, look at how their stuff is doing, like if they've got 30,000 followers on Instagram, and three people like the post, that's not a very engaged following. Okay, so

Jennie Wright 10:35
let's, let's back it up a little bit where to find speakers, Okay, before we even get to like the interaction stuff, where to actually find speakers, the best thing that you can do is go with reflect almost like a referral. Right? So I put up posts, I suggest my clients put up post saying, Hey, I'm planning an event, and I'm looking for speakers who talk about ABC and XYZ, put your favorite speaker name below. Right. And that's a great way to just start the inspiration. The other thing is, you know, looking on Google and typing in your topic, and looking some sites that actually have that are professional speaker sites, and things of that nature will actually allow you to browse for free. So you can do that. Be careful though, if you're an entrepreneur, don't, don't stick only to the professional speaker sites, because those are very corporate, and they have speaker fees attached. So be careful there. The other thing that I do, and this is a huge way to find speakers, okay, this is people who know summits, is to type in your topic, like your niche, plus the word summit into Google. Okay, so online marketing Summit, weight loss for vegans Summit, write finding love in your 50s summit. And if you type those into Google, a whole bunch of Summit sites will come up, because people just tend to leave them up, just FYI, if you click on them, the majority of these pages will have the speakers that are speaking on the event listed right there on the landing page. And you can start, what I do is I just have a copy paste into a spreadsheet, and I just copy paste, then I started investigating. And this is where what Alyson was talking about comes into play, right? So we have our wish list, get a spreadsheet, guys wish list it. And then the thing that Alyson was talking about, which is huge is watch out for fake fake audiences, that big audiences that are not going to like if like she said, If there's 30,000 people on their Instagram before people like the post, guys, that's a real big disconnect. So there's something wrong there. In addition, check out their website if their website has like no opt in means they don't have a list. Things like that, like start using you know your to develop a sort of like gut instinct about people.

Alyson Lex 12:51
I think to like, the gut instinct is going to be a thing, like you have your own standard for what you're looking for. And we can give as much information as we want about what to look for. But you've got to go with your gut, you've got to think about does this feel like a good fit? Does this person feel like they're going to provide the value that I want my audience to get? Because at the end of the day, it's your name on this thing. It's your it's, it's your brand, it's your business that you're highlighting. And when you work with people, even in the capacity of having them on your Summit. You're kind of publicly saying like, Hey, I stand by what this person says, Yeah, you're putting yourself in alignment with you're aligning with them. And so if you don't stand, if you can't work with what they say,

Jennie Wright 13:59

Alyson Lex 14:02
they're not the right fit for your event. And no, it sucks. It sucks. Sometimes.

Jennie Wright 14:09
It does. It does. And some people so you and I have different views on this a little bit. You know, I'm very direct, right? If I look at somebody's profile, and I am not in alignment with what they say, I'm gonna know, like a full on No. And I think that you're changing how you look at that, too. I think you're you're flipping a little bit more not flipping was not the right word. I think you're evolving. So I've just done so many of these that um, if it's not a hell yes. I'm a hell no, that's my that's my POV. And I know that you're there now too, but I know in the past one of the mistakes that I felt you made and I called you out on it, and we disagreed about it, and that's totally okay. Because we deal with disagreements really well, is I didn't 100% think that the person was a good fit, so I'm a hell no and you're like, I can overlook that little piece because I think they'd be a benefit

Alyson Lex 15:01
You know, yeah, well, and I think it, too, you know, there's there's a couple aspects to that. And I think it's worth talking about as far as who you're choosing, right? Yeah, there's the personal alignment aspect. And then there's the business alignment aspect. And in a lot, a lot of cases, it overlaps. It's huge interconnects. There are some cases where the business information is exactly what your audience might need, the personal viewpoints beliefs stances, what have you may not 100%, line up with what you believe, personally. And it's up to you to decide where you fall on that. Yes, you know, and full turns full transparency, because that's what we do here at System to THRIVE. I was beginning to plan my Summit, directly after the really kind of crazy 2020 election cycle. And so I had to make the decision. Does this person's political viewpoint

Jennie Wright 16:16
posted publicly on their social media posted publicly

Alyson Lex 16:21
on their social media affect the quality of business information that they give, and how I feel about aligning with them.

Unknown Speaker 16:35
And it's a very personal decision.

Alyson Lex 16:37
It's a very personal decision. So Jenny, and I cannot tell you what is right or wrong. What I can tell you is that Jenny and I have slightly different opinions on that. Yeah. And that's okay. So, and I respect where she comes from, she respects where I come from. So we respect where you come from, with whatever you decide. But it is something that you have to consider that personal viewpoints, especially when it comes to an expert, who is the face of their business can matter to some people. So you need to make sure that that aligns with how you feel completely.

Jennie Wright 17:15
What I recommend that people do before they even like one of the things that's so important in having a summit is literally creating a vision statement. And you did this for your event, where it was very much of the you know, coaches, you know, Coach and conversion was all about ABC and XYZ, we represent this, this, this and this, we, you know, we were creating community around this and everything and you had that statement. So very it comes it becomes very easy. When you have that vision statement for what you want to then fall back on it and say, if it doesn't fall, fall into alignment with my vision statement, then I'm a no. If it falls into line with my you know, and you and I had these conversations when you were planning your event, because you were like, What do you think of this speaker? And I'm like, it's a stretch? Or, you know, what do you think of this speaker, I'm like they're bang on. And they could probably speak on one of every like, of all the days because they were so cool, right? Because you had some really cool people. But then a couple of people, we were both like a like it's, it's, it's a stretch to have this person on. And recently, and I did, I did a summit with a client recently where they had an enormous amount of speakers. And I would say probably about 10 of those speakers are a big stretch. And one of the biggest problems that I experienced as a summit producer. And this is something that I actually teach in the product that Allison and I are working on right now, which is our when it's going to be like a whole summit thing is the fact that we can give you all the tools and we'll give you all the tools in this product so that you can find and book and onboard your best amazing speakers. But you have to listen to it. Like you have to take the advice. Like if you're going to ask people's advice on how to make this happen, please take the advice because, like I've been there over 345, almost 350 times at this point. There's a there's a methodology. And there's a reason so yeah,

Alyson Lex 19:11
and you know, speaking from someone who doesn't have that kind of in depth experience, like that's really hard, you're emotionally connected to the idea of things. And I know that, you know, when I would run speakers by Jenny, I would say Oh, I have you know, Joe Schmo. And I feel like you know, we've talked about this but we could probably go in this direction and make it right like I was trying to shoehorn because I really, I liked Joe Schmo. And you're gonna have people that you personally connect with, that you want to work with, but they just don't fit the theme of the event. They don't. And Jenny mentioned like you getting really clear on Like, this is my theme. These are my buckets, this is what I'm looking for. It helps you just create that instant yes or no barometer, and remove the emotion from it. And, and then it it also makes it so that when you do do that speaker search, when you, you know, you've looked on, I really liked all the things that you said someone to kind of recap, I was taking notes, I was like, oh, yeah, I need to do that. You can look at some professional speaker sites, you can google your topic, including looking for summits in your topic, get referrals from people that are already in your network. And then the one thing that you didn't mention was putting out a broad call for speakers in different groups and pages and stuff like that. But that we can,

Jennie Wright 20:48
yeah, I want to talk for like five seconds. All right, five seconds, go. Okay, well, five seconds plus a couple zeros, okay. Putting out putting out a call for speakers post in Facebook groups will get you a Minaj of people like you're going to get a variety of people, Allison, and I do these for our podcast, we put out a call for speakers for the podcast. We actually this morning, the day that we're recording this, we went through and went through all of our speakers. And what we find in this the same for Summit is that you're getting the Tom Dick And Harry's of everything, and you're going through and you're having to pick through and it can you know, there's there's the hell yeses in the hell knows. And then there's a couple I'm not so sure. Be advised that if you're going to post in Facebook groups, looking for speakers, which is a great tactic that you have to be prepared to then vet, right. And this is where you need to create a process to help to actually vet them out.

Alyson Lex 21:48
I have the way that I like to do this. So we have the form that the application. And actually I think we have that in the product as well. So that's the questions are written specifically to help with this process.

Jennie Wright 22:04
We give them everything. Oh, yeah, we

Alyson Lex 22:06
do anything. It's crazy. It's crazy this thing anyway. So there is one column that you're going to look at. As far as Does this match my topic? You're not going to look at anything else. I don't want you to look at name websites, social, anything, this topic, this this question, what is the topic that they're going to talk on? And does it fit in with what you do? Then you color code? Right? I like green for heck yes, blue for maybe pink or red for Heck no. And I color code. And then then once I've gone through that I've removed all the other stuff, all the connection, all the personal gut feeling all the decision about whether their content is up to par, all of that, then I go through and I start diving in. And that is step one. And then if I'm interested, I asked them to connect with me. Now there are some people that I know. Right? And this is where it gets kind of dicey asking people that you know, but like Jenny's going to be on my Summit. I'm not going to ask her for a 15 minute call.

Jennie Wright 23:22
Yes, but But very I'm not Oh, no, I'm using oh, what?

Alyson Lex 23:27
Oh, dear. It's serious.

Jennie Wright 23:28
It's serious, but even if it's somebody that you know. And you know them well like Allison knows me, I still highly encourage everybody to do a 15-minute call, if possible. Because even if you know them, well, you still need to build out a little bit of the episode. And honestly, Alex and I are friends. We share the podcast and we do a whole bunch of other stuff. But before I knew what Allison was like on camera, before I knew what Allison was like on audio, if I was doing a summit, I still would have made her have a 15-minute call because I need to ensure one proper sound, proper video, proper quality, proper, all this kind of stuff. Because the worst thing that you can have is go oh my god, like we're friends. No problem, just show up. And we'll talk about ABC XYZ and kind of wing it. You don't want to wing it on a summit, in my opinion, because that's where mistakes can happen. And it is so hard to police your friend. Like Allison, your audio is really crappy. I will swear your audio is really well. Yeah, I almost totally did. Yeah, and that would have gotten us a rating um, your audio is poopy your video is crazy. I mean, like and it's hard to say that to your friend. And that person just thinks they're just gonna get their interview done right. And now you're like, Oh my God. Now I've got to I got to do all these things. So remove the heartache. Default of 15 Minute Calls for everybody is my opinion. You know, at this point, Allison, I don't need them because we've been friends for like seven years. And we've gone all through this. But I think if I'd only known Allison for like two or three years, and we'd never done anything video wise, I would have made her do a 15-minute call.

Alyson Lex 25:08
No, that's fair. That's I totally agree with that. Yeah. And then once you have that call, you build out the interview or the presentation, you've decided that they are a yes.

Jennie Wright 25:20
And that they will promote. Oh, yeah.

Alyson Lex 25:23
Well, that's, that's a whole nother,

Jennie Wright 25:25
that's a whole nother Yeah,

Alyson Lex 25:26
we'll talk about that. We might need to do a training on how to do a 15 minute call for this. Anyway, yeah, we just keep adding stuff. It's not, not good. Um, so once you do all that, then it's all about making sure that they have the information they need to take the next step. And that's the template. I love to use a template and then just email it out. It's giving me the mistakes. Yeah,

Jennie Wright 25:53
people make this mistake here. Because they're like, Oh, I got Allison agreed to be on my Summit. And then you move on to getting all your other experts. And you haven't talked to Allison in three weeks? She said, Yes, three weeks ago. But then she forgets that she said yes, or what it was about. And then when you send the link to book an interview, like this is where a process is ideal. Right? So create the process, write it down, 15 minute call, 15 minute call, then send, you know, right on the right on the 15 minute call, if they're Yes, given the interview link. If they're not Yes, right away, then you can send it later. You know, make sure there's reminders, make sure there's follow up emails, to get them to their interview on time and things of that nature, make sure there's a forum where they're where you're collecting picture, bio link to free gift and all that kind of stuff, right? Create that process. It doesn't take long, my friends, it just eliminates the errors. And that process will make one you feel comfortable to your expert feel really well taken care of. Because that's the feedback Allison and I get and that I get when I do summits like people are just like, oh my god, this is the most well organized, you know, thing, the

Alyson Lex 26:58
overwhelming feedback from my speakers last year, which was my first real summit do not count my 2013 summit was my first real summit was I cannot believe the bar that you've set for taking care of your speakers. Because I had a process it was an in the pod having the podcast, we use a lot of the same processes here. The the big takeaway from this is the 15 minute call. Get the hard Yes, from both sides, make sure you're both aligned, send the next step email on the call. If you take nothing away from this part of the episode, if you take nothing else away from the episode, go back and re listen to the beginning where we talk about the type of speakers to have and not have and what to look for. But the other really important part is make sure that your next step is happening before that previous step is completed. Otherwise, you're never going to move these people through. And you're going to get to a week before promo and realize you don't have headshots and bios and links, and you're gonna go crazy.

Jennie Wright 28:19
Yes. The other. I mean, Allison 100% Go crazy is what happens. The whole speaker process. This is why we start planning some it's four months out to get and just let you know, if you're trying to plan a summit in 30 days, you're going to make snap decisions about people based on the fact that you only have 2928 2726 days left, and you're going to pick people that are not a great fit. Versus if you have four months, you're giving yourself more time to find the right speakers. This is why we plan out four or five or even like Alison, I plan out six months with Allison. Right, just so that we have that ease, right? So

Alyson Lex 28:59
well. And I want to just break in really quick because I know you had something you wanted to say but you may have a goal of having 21 speakers on your event.

Jennie Wright 29:11
Okay, cool. That's a great goal.

Alyson Lex 29:15
If you can only find 15 highly qualified, Perfect Fit speakers. Change your goal. Change your goal, don't have the filler fluff, not a fit speakers.

Jennie Wright 29:32
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. It's true, though. It's true. But anyways, this is this is just the beginning. These are literally like I will spend three or four calls with clients just talking about this particular process during the production of their summit. This is a huge topic. And we highly recommend that you spend the time to find the right speakers that you create the processes that you look at people from an analytical point of view and also from how they're going to help people community. So there's a lot in here, go read listen to this episode if you need to 100% Listen to this episode before you start planning your Summit. And if you're struggling with speakers, and you're struggling with this process reach out to Alyson and I, we could potentially help you out with us. You can always book a coaching call with us. And we can see about that. And then additionally, you can check out when it comes available because it won't be too long now, we have an entire product that will help you through the A to Z with building out a summit successfully. So that's going to be coming in the near future as well. I just want to say this is this is the like epitome of Jennie fun talking about Summit. So I'm enjoying this series. I hope you are too. Leave us a comment, let us know what you think. And we hope that you'll come back and listen to the next one. We're actually gonna be talking more about G's building the actual event we've got promoting the event we've got hosting the summit. You know, coming up. We've also got post summit information so keep listening to this series. We've got a couple more episodes that are all going to be beneficial for you. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll be back again soon. Take care



Episode 161 – The Biggest Needle Mover for a Successful Challenge with Stirling Gardner

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