How to Build a Data-Driven Public Speaking Program

We’ve covered the basics of public speaking here on the SHIFT blog before. However, many speakers still feel unprepared when facing an important event or talk. How can we better be ready for key talks and events?

Rather than just wing it or have a purely canned talk that may not be relevant to the audience and the event, we can look to data. Let’s dig into what a data-driven public speaking strategy would look like as part of your overall data-driven PR program.

What’s the goal?

As a speaker, or as a company with a speaker presenting at an event, the goal is to be more relevant and visible to attendees, speakers, sponsors, and influencers.

What’s our strategy?

Build influence in advance of and at an event by identifying who you should be talking with and what you should be talking about through the use of data.

10 step tactical plan

1. As a speaker, before you set foot on stage, know what the audience is thinking about. As early as a month out, track the conference hashtag or social media profiles to see what the hot topics are.

2. If a speaker list is available, create a social media list of your fellow speakers to see what content they’re sharing and who they’re talking to:


3. Use influence monitoring tools to determine what topics are trending in advance of the event.

4. Use influence scoring tools to identify which attendees will potentially be the most likely to share your talk’s key moments.

5. Begin resharing the content of influential attendees and speakers several weeks in advance. Don’t ask for reciprocity, just share them as part of your basic content distribution strategy.

6. Two weeks out from the event, begin sharing and tagging your target influencers with comments such as, 

“Can’t wait to hear @influencer speak at #eventhashtag!”

Any of the people who demonstrate reciprocity early on should be flagged for followup.

7. Consider offering them a chance to guest blog or participate in some meaningful way in advance of the event. Stay in touch with the receptive influencers.

8. At the event, be sure to promote them with comments such as,

“Don’t miss my colleague @influencer speak in room #1234 about #topic in 30 minutes! #eventhashtag”

9. In advance of your speaking session, be sure to promote your own session. There’s a good chance your reciprocal influencers will return the favors you’ve given and cross promote your talk. Post about your talk in advance of it, as it begins, and then after your talk with links to your slides or other supporting materials.

10. Consider adding paid promotion to reinforce visibility, especially to anyone using the conference hashtag.


Measuring the results of a data-driven speaking program is straightforward: compare how many people shared your talk, your content, your slides after your last event versus an event using the above program. Assuming you’ve done all of your homework vigilantly, you should see significantly higher reach and saturation at an event.


For example, I did the above practices during Social Media Marketing World this past March. Instead of the several hundred mentions I normally accrue, I was able to create 10x greater, 2,111 mentions in the span of 5 days.


Following the above strategic plan for data-driven public speaker promotion can help you greatly increase your visibility at events. In turn, your speaking opportunities will become more valuable, more meaningful, and ultimately deliver significantly greater impact.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Download our new whitepaper, PR and Influencers: A Better Way

Posted on June 8, 2015 in Advertising, Data, Data-Driven PR, Marketing, Metrics, Strategy

Share the Story

About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
Back to Top
Get Fresh PR News Delivered Weekly!

Get Fresh PR News Delivered Weekly!

Want fresh PR and earned media news delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the SHIFT HAPPENS newsletter!

You have Successfully Subscribed!