speaking engagement

How credit unions can secure effective speaking engagements 

Securing a speaking engagement can be a very valuable tool for credit union executives when they are trying to increase their exposure and position themselves as thought leaders throughout the financial industry. However, being selected to speak at an esteemed trade show or conference is a highly competitive process that can often deter organizations from entering if they are not fully prepared. By planning, using their PR team and working effectively with their conference directors, a credit union can turn a daunting task into an engaging way to promote their success.


At the beginning of each year, it is important to make note of each conference and trade show in which your credit union might be considered a potential guest speaker. Deadlines for speakership nominations are typically six to 12 months in advance of the show, and decisions on speakers are typically made four to six months prior. Getting a head start on this process reduces stress and gives you plenty of time to think of a creative way to make your topic more engaging to target audiences. You will also have more time to incorporate co-presenters if desired.

Use Your PR Team

If speaking engagements are a priority, talk to your PR team immediately. Their job is to increase a credit union’s exposure, and speaking engagements can be an important part of that effort. The PR team can assist in finding a topic, choosing guest speakers and completing the nomination process. They can also promote your speaking opportunity by sending out a media advisory prior to the conference if your nomination is chosen.

Your PR team will be a valuable resource in selecting a topic that resonates with the conference committee when you are preparing your nomination. They should be aware of emerging trends because of their contacts in the media, and can help in finding an interesting and timely topic. Even when it comes to filling out nomination forms, your PR team will know the best way to position the credit union in the eyes of the selection committee.

If your nomination is approved and you are chosen to speak, be sure to work diligently with your PR team on practicing your public speaking skills.

Work Effectively With Conference Managers

Once selected, it is important to stay in constant communication with the conference directors to prepare the presentation according to their guidelines. This may include the development of a PowerPoint presentation, handouts and biographies to include in conference agendas. If you are promptly available to discuss these items with the conference managers, you are much more likely to have a positive experience and to be chosen for another speaking engagement in the future.

By taking advantage of speaking engagement opportunities and putting in the work required to submit a compelling application, credit unions can drastically boost media coverage and build their reputation as a trusted thought leader. Additionally, this can help increase membership – so speak up!

Catherine Mootz is an account coordinator at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or its blog.

CUES’ Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

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