Inviting a Speaker to a Telesummit? An Example of a Bad (but Typical) Invitation…

If you study “how to build an email list” you’ll almost certainly come across the strategy of hosting a telesummit. It is one of the fastest ways to build an email list. 

But it's often a terrible way to do it, because you’ll end up with an unresponsive list of subscribers, after spending incredible amounts of effort and time in creating the telesummit.

The following is an actual email I received yesterday (and you will, too, once you start getting some exposure).

This is the kind of message template for speaker outreach that you’ll receive in courses on how to create telesummits... 
I won’t reveal the name of the telesummit host, but that doesn’t matter because this type of outreach is done by many people.

The email was sent by her VA (virtual assistant) -- which is already a red flag.

If I want someone to guest speak at my event, I do them the honor of reaching out personally and thoughtfully. They are a potential peer and collaborator. I don’t just outsource the first impression to a VA.

What’s worse, as you’ll see below, there was nothing customized about the email.

It could’ve been sent (and probably was) to dozens, or hundreds, of other potential speakers.

Here’s what she wrote:

[The Host's] intention for this event focuses on empowering attendees with easy to apply and life-changing tools and strategies to reach their dreams of financial independence, time freedom and emotional fulfillment in their business and life.

I'm thinking... wow, that is a tall order... there is a lot of material to cover, or at least, the session needs to be long enough to have a real impact on attendees.  

This is cynical but probably true -- she just wants the widest net of topics to be able to “invite” lots of different speakers…

Continuing with the email:

She's hosting this online Summit of experts who can provide valuable insight in the field of online business and she would be honored to include and feature you to be an expert speaker on this panel!

The “field of online business”? I thought this was about a wider area of life transformation?

She says nothing about why I am particularly qualified to present in this summit… does she even care?

Participation would consist of one 20-minute pre-recorded video interview via Zoom, which will launch on [DATE]. This requires no travel on your end, and can be performed whenever you are available between now and August 5th.

She carelessly forgot to update the date of "August 5"... as I'm just receiving this invite in September... she probably does summits all year long, and is moving so fast, like a bull through a china shop.

We would like to feature a for sale item of your choice at the end of your interview as a thank you for your participation and to really create a win-win in cross exposure and making a difference for our attendees.

This is incredible -- she wants me to speak for 20 minutes, to provide life-changing advice and sell something... all in 20 minutes.

I can understand if this had the prestige of a TED talk. Those are about 20 minutes, but the viewership is huge, and they don’t require the speaker to promote it.

Nor do they allow the speaker to sell from the stage... Why? Because they care about their audience and the integrity of their brand. This is not the case here.

Continuing with the email:

We ask that each speaker send two solo emails to their list (5000 list minimum required), and promote on social media to celebrate this incredible series!

Yes, an "incredible series"… of sales pitches!

Attendees will see the primary promise of life changing advice, yet it was designed with an ulterior motive to primarily build the list of the Host, and secondarily to sell the speaker’s products.

This disconnect of intention, this lack of transparency, shows a profound lack of respect and care for her audience -- let alone the speakers’ audiences.

She should’ve just promoted this as a virtual tradeshow, which would’ve been legit. “Come and be part of a tradeshow where attendees are checking out new products and solutions to problems to [Overall Topic].” That would’ve made more sense to everyone involved here.

Also, notice the email mentioned a requirement for the speakers to have a 5,000-person email list and to send 2 emails *specifically* about the telesummit to their people.

This is a very common tactic by telesummit hosts… but who really wins here? The host of the summit... not the audience, and maybe not even the speakers who have to prostitute the relationship with their own audience in order to be able to "participate" in this event.

If you really care about the audience, you would get the speakers that can best contribute to the audience, not just because a speaker has 5,000-person email list and willing to send 2 solo promo emails.

And if you really care about the audience, your audience will care for you back -- you’ll have a natural and growing word-of-mouth outreach, without using these slimy tactics.

So I plead to everyone reading this, who might be invited to speak on a telesummit, or even host one at some point, please make respecting the audience’s attention your primary point of care.

Not building your own list. In fact, it would be wise to stop focusing on building an email list.

Respect your audience enough to carefully choose speakers that they will love... not because those speakers have a big list!

If the audience loves the summit they will share it on their own accord, and from the genuine word-of-mouth, you’ll likely get even more true subscribers (that will continue to follow and share). That is better than forcing the speakers to promote it.

If you come across any colleagues who are getting trained to host telesummits… send this post to them.

Together, we can raise the consciousness of the online marketing world.

Here is the true win-win to aim for:

Genuine word-of-mouth growth that is a natural result when we care enough about our audience.