How to Prepare & Submit a Digital Marketing Conference Proposal


Speaking at conferences is a great way to build your name as an expert in your specific industry. As far as SEO, social media, and search engine marketing are concerned, speaking at conferences seems like a requirement if you plan on advancing your career in those verticals. Not only is speaking a great way to build new relationships in your industry, but doing so also aids in solidifying those connections.

With the help of Laura Roth, who heads up content for the SES Conference Expo digital marketing series, gives some great information in this beginner’s guide on how to prepare and submit proposals.

Tell Them What The Attendee Will Learn

Frequently people will submit an abstract on their talk, but they forget to share what the attendees will learn. Sharing the key takeaways in your proposal will increase your chances of getting seriously considered as a speaker at your conference of choice. The typical format that SES prefers is:

  • A couple of lines explaining on what your talk is about
  • Followed by bullet points that highlight the key takeaways attendees will learn.

Be Creative in Your Submission


Roth said she reviews hundreds of speaking submissions for SES throughout the year. If you’re one of many, it is highly recommended that when you submit your talk, you be creative in your execution.

Try to stand out from the crowd a bit and submit more than just a brief paragraph on your talk. Some ways you could submit your proposal are by:

  • Submitting a video of yourself speaking
  • Developing a creative PowerPoint presentation
  • Use powerful images in your submissions to enhance your message

Adding that little something extra will help you stand out of the crowd and can even get you picked!

Stay on Topic

While creativity is definitely welcomed, one thing you shouldn’t do is think so completely out of the box that you end up submitting a proposal that has nothing to do with the subject.

Roth mentioned that she has received some talks that were very creative, they were not related to search marketing in any way. If you have a neat spin on a topic, present it in a way that’s creative, but also states what the attendee will come away with if they listened to your talk.

Your Company Name and Title Aren’t the Only Things that Will Get You In

While it’s a great to have well-known speakers at a conference, a name won’t necessarily get anyone chosen to speak. Yes, they may help in promoting the event, but if their topic isn’t solid enough, their company and name won’t necessarily carry them to the final rounds of being chosen.

If you aren’t one of these people with a VP or director’s title, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t submit your talk. Variety is needed, so if you have something unique to offer and you’re confident in your skills set, then take the chance and propose your topic.

SES and Interactivity Digital are great examples of this as not only are these great conferences to learn from, but they also have a wide variety of people to come and speak.

Roth said that if your proposal is strong, creative and provides her team with information, you have just as much of a chance as the recognized subject matter experts that often speak at these conferences.

If you feel as though you have great ideas for a panel session, then submit your talk! The worst thing that will happen is they say no, but at least you tried.

Don’t be intimidated by the big industry leaders that you see on the speaker list and think you don’t have a shot to be amongst them. At one point, they too were new to the speaking circuit and were given a chance. In fact you should be driven even more to be able to submit a talk when seeing big names, as if you do get chosen it will only give you an opportunity to get more face time will these individuals, thus expanding your professional network.

Don’t Wait for the Deadline to Submit

Another common misconception about submitting a speaker proposal is that you should wait until the deadline. According to Roth, that is definitely not the case!

“Get it in and get it in early,” Roth said. “As soon as you can submit your talk, you should definitely get it into the system as we pretty much start the process of evaluation the proposals as soon as our latest conference ends.”

In fact, Roth said that people are already getting confirmations before the deadline, so it’s quite important that if you want to speak, don’t wait until the last minute to submit your proposal.

Top 4 Things to Keep in Mind When Submitting Your Proposal

SES provides a ton of information about how to prepare you talk so you can be sure you’re on the right track to being accepted. Here are the top 5 things to keep in mind when submitting your proposal.


  1. Focus on the “How Tos” and not the “Whys”: Roth states that if you’re chosen to speak, DON’T spend the first 20 minutes for you talk selling the attendees why your topic is important. You’re there to teach them HOW to succeed and give various insights on how to improve what they’re doing today.
  2. Case Studies: This type of content is so welcomed among conferences so if you have case studies or items you’ve put in place and have the results to show, then add that to your proposal.
  3. Share What NOT to Do: While speakers tend to not want to show their own mistakes when it comes to search marketing tactics, it is great content that is positively recognized. If you don’t want to share your company’s mistakes, then perhaps talk about several brands that haven’t implemented a strategy correctly and share the “what they should have done.”
  4. The Latest and Greatest: If new updates to Google have occurred or Facebook has once again changed their algorithm or look and feel, then presenting ideas on how they will affect your marketing strategies, are great ways to engage the audience. Predicting outcomes and they reasoning behind it are also interesting items that you should add into your proposal.
  5. No Sales Pitch Please! If you really want to speak at a conference, especially SES, then one thing you should definitely not do is submit a proposal that only talks about tool and services YOU sell. There’s no harm in sharing the top SEO tools to educate the audience on how you get your data or on what to focus on, but it’s completely another thing to sell those tools in a presentation. Being a speaker at SES, demonstrating thought leadership and providing attendees knowledge and tactics they can immediately walk away with are the best advertisements for their businesses anyway.

Now that you’ve read this beginner’s guide to submitting proposals to search conferences, go ahead and submit your proposal for one of the upcoming SES Conferences (there’s still time to send a speaker proposal for SES San Francisco or SES Chicago). I dare ya! I know I am.


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