Tools & Resources mentioned during the episode:
Welcome to Episode 19 on the VSM podcast. Today is all about a common misbelief that I hear over and over and over again. I am sick of hearing it. And that’s why I want to tackle this in this podcast episode. And it is that you have to be an expert before you can run a virtual summit.
And I want to give you three examples of what people think that have never run a summit before and they don’t consider themselves experts. And they’re holding themselves back. Maybe this is true for you as well. Maybe you need to hear this. I hope this is coming at the right time for you. But you don’t have to be an expert to host a successful virtual Summit.
And in this podcast episode, we’ll dive right into this.
The Most Important Skill You Need to Have as a Summit Host
So the most important thing as a summit host is not being an expert. Let me get this straight right away.
The most important skill that you have to have as a summit host is the ability to ask questions.
You have to be curious about the topic that you want to run the virtual summit on.
And, frankly, if you weren’t curious if you weren’t excited about the topic that you want to host a virtual summit about, why would you do it in the first place, right? So you, as the summit host, are not supposed to be the expert. You are not supposed to have all the answers to questions that attendees might throw at you.
Instead, consider yourself being the moderator. So you are the one facilitating conversations about your summit topic?
And most importantly, is that you, the speakers, and of course, the attendees are passionate about the same topic. So whatever questions you ask during the summit sessions, those questions should be what your attendees would ask those experts as well.
There should be an overlap right here. And you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s not a conversation between two experts that is resonating the most. In fact, if there is somebody who’s in the position of being the mentee, and then there is the expert, being the mentor, those are the most valuable conversations.
And those are the interviews that I like to listen to the most personally. But I also get the best feedback on it’s like when I am going into the position of a mentee, assuming I don’t know anything about a topic, but I asked questions. Then, people who see those interviews and who watch the interviews learn the most.
That’s what they tell me, at least. So there must be some truth to it. I’ve done this on countless summits. And in fact, I’m doing this right now on List Building School 3. It is an event running in January next year. And even though I know a bit of email marketing and list building because I’ve done online marketing for a couple of years, I am not the one supposed to be teaching at this event.
So I don’t. I only share what I’ve tried. I’m sharing what works, what doesn’t work. But I am not breaking down strategies or explaining why things are working or not working. That’s the role of the guests. Please give them the stage in your summit session.
Common Misbeliefs People Have about Virtual Summits
So let’s talk about three common misbeliefs that I repeatedly hear from people who are just starting, who want to run a summit, but they hold themselves back. Because they don’t think they are “expert enough”.
The First Misbelief: I won’t be able to get speakers
So most importantly, the first thing I hear all the time is, if I am no expert, nobody will come and speak at my virtual summit.
And this is just plain wrong. So I hate to break it to you. But let me remove this excuse for you. So when you are not an expert, people will still come and speak at your event because you need to demonstrate that you’re curious. And it would be best if you made it very clear to the potential speakers who your event’s target audience is and what they get out of speaking at your event.
Whether that is being able to pitch their lead magnet to build their email list, whether you’re driving traffic to their social channels, maybe they have a book launch or something else, a course launch coming up that overlaps with the summit that they can pitch.
Make it clear that the audience of your event overlaps with the audience they want to reach. That’s the most important thing. And then obviously, you need to be very, very open and curious in those conversations with the experts leading up to getting them booked as a speaker.
And as soon as they see that you care about the success of the attendees of your event more than you care about growing your own brand, that is when they’ll join. And that is when you, as a summit host, also see the most significant rewards from your virtual summit.
It’s counterintuitive, but the more you focus on delivering great sessions for your attendees and having an engaging back and forth in between the session and the expert and yourself, the better the summit will perform in terms of ROI and in terms of branding and perceived authority for you as the summit host.
The Second Misbelief: Attendees won’t pay attention to what I have to say
The second misconception I hear all the time is that if you are not the expert, the attendees won’t take you seriously.
And this is as strong as it gets. Think about how Dumbledore is positioned in the Harry Potter series. He’s just the guide.
It’s not about them. Harry Potter is no expert, yet he is the one leading through all the series, and the experts are taking advisory roles just as Dumbledore does, and all the other heroes. And then think about if you’re not into Harry Potter, think about Star Wars, Luke Skywalker starts training in Star Wars.
He was not the expert when he began. Yoda was, but it’s not about Yoda. Yoda is training and teaching Luke. But the story is not focusing on Yoda. It focuses on Luke Skywalker. So that is how you have to think about marketing in general.
It’s not about you as the service provider, as a business owner, as a freelancer. Make the hero your customer. Help your customers bridge knowledge gaps, learn together with them. And if you can demonstrate that you also don’t know things, you are open about this, and you are eager to learn and improve during the summit sessions. Guess what you are acting like one of them.
And that is one of the best situations you can be in, and position yourself as their guide along the journey. And your attendees will pay way more attention to you and will take you more seriously than if you were an expert, who claims to be a know-it-all, has all the answers, has all the solutions to every single problem.
Or perhaps when you’re someone who tries to teach from the top without empathizing with them. Rather be the guide on the journey. That is a way more important, way better position to be in. If that’s something that sounds strange to you, look into what Donald Miller says in this book StoryBrand.
I highly recommend that book. If you have a hard time grasping the concept of being the guide than being the expert, Donald Miller StoryBrand is a great resource to check out; highly recommended. I link it in the podcast show notes at VSM podcast.com/19.
The Third Misbelief: I won’t be able to gets sponsors
And then lastly, the third misbelief. If I am no expert, I won’t get any sponsors to support my event financially.
This is an important one to take out because virtual summits can become expensive when you host them. They take a few months usually to prepare, even when you enroll in virtual summit mastery, which is pretty affordable.
But there are some costs leading up to the summit, like maybe hiring a graphics team and all the other good things, and you can go to VSMpodcast.com to check out the other episodes about the costs involved in running a virtual summit.
But let me say this. Sponsors do not buy a sponsorship package because you have a strong brand as a summit host. They buy it because they believe in your event. And suppose you can bring together a solid speaker lineup and offer attractive sponsorship packages. In that case, even if you have no brand to begin with, you can attract paying companies to support your event financially as a sponsor because they understand what’s in it for them.
That’s the most crucial question. You might have guessed it by now. I’ve brought this up a couple of times during this episode. The perspective you have to have when running a virtual summit is what’s in it for your sponsors. Think about how you can make a sponsorship as attractive as possible for the companies you want to approach.
Whether that lets them build their email list through your event or whether that lets them host virtual webinars, live webinars, roundtables. You have to get creative at this point. There’s no one-size-fits-all in having sponsorship packages, and that is also where the opportunity lies. So you can go through other events in your industry, see what they give to sponsors. And then think about how can I take that to the next level.
What is it that a sponsoring company might be missing from those other events? And that is where you shine. That is where you demonstrate that you care about the sponsor’s success as much as you care about your own. Now, to summarize this, how do you build authority during the event if you are not the expert?
You, as the summit host, are the one constant throughout the event for your attendees. Position yourself in the shoes of your attendees for a second. You sign up to your virtual summit, you see a list of maybe 15, or 20, or 50 speakers, for that matter.
And you set aside some time in your calendar when the event is live to attend certain sessions. And you see maybe three or four or five sessions at the event. You see various experts, but you see only one summit host, and that summit host is asking questions. He’s curious; she’s curious.
She’s dedicated to making the session as valuable as possible, drilling deep into why things work the way they do into making the information as accessible as possible. And that is how you build authority. Please make it so that the attendees understand how much you care about their success and make it painfully evident that the event is not about you as a summit host but that you want to deliver value to the attendees.
Grill your experts in your summit sessions. Dig deep. When you don’t understand something that they’ve explained, say it. Would you please elaborate on that? Can you please go through that again, walk me through that again? I didn’t fully get it.
Fair points to say, and those are the moments in your summit interviews that make them stand out against what everybody else is doing in the industry because everybody else is focusing so much on being perceived as knowledgeable and perceived as an expert professional, as trustworthy.
All those other buzzwords, right? Be human, be transparent if you don’t understand something. It’s cool because chances were when you as the host didn’t understand something, your attendees might not have also understood it just like you. So you are, in fact, doing them a favor if you drill deeper into these situations.
Because if the attendees didn’t understand, you failed as the summit hosts. You didn’t deliver value to them. And essentially, think about this for a second. When you, as an attendee, sign up for a virtual event, the experts almost become replaceable at some level because they are going and coming.
There are sessions going live; there are sessions taken offline. But the one constant is always the summit host. It’s always the moderator facilitating and leading the conversations. And that is how you build authority through a virtual summit and establish your expert position through it.
So there you have it. I hope this becomes clear. Now, please don’t hold yourself back. If you consider yourself not an expert, you can still run a successful virtual summit.
If you want to dive deeper into that, go to virtualsummitmastery.com/book. And check out my book on the entire process that we teach in the full course.
All the seven modules, all the seven phases are explained in detail in this book. I reach out personally if I see your purchase come through. We’ll jump on a call together if you want to. I’ll walk you through the process answer some questions you might have. I want to help you.
If you have other topics that you would like me to cover on this podcast, I’m happy to go through them. Let me know, hit me up on social media, hit me up via email [email protected]
I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much for tuning in!