Telesummits: What's The Deal & Should You Participate?
When I worked in science, I was invited to attend speaking events as the expert panelist many times.
I like speaking and I like talking to people, so for me, it was a win-win, a great way for me to get out of my little hovel and go interact with the world and a great way to talk about my work and get people amped about my message.
And if you have an online practice of any kind, for any amount of time, you'll likely be asked to participate in speaking events, too.
Not all interview requests are created equal, though.
And since I've walked away from my science career and have started an online business as a psychic medium, I've had opportunities to speak as an expert panelist for my industry, but in a different event type, called a telesummit.
What Is A Telesummit?
A Telesummit is a series of live or pre-recorded talks, where a variety of "experts" are invited to speak in an online event series, where all the talks center around being interviewed by a particular host. Hosted as online events, audience members tune-in to the event via an internet streamed audio that is aired at a certain time, and at certain intervals.
Telesummits are usually offered as free events, but as you know from life and from reading this blog, nothing is free and this means someone else has to pay for their production - a point I'll explain later.
The audience members are gleaned from the individual expert's lists themselves, who are required, by virtue of accepting the invitation, to promote the event on the host's behalf.
When you get invited to speak at a telesummit, the requirements usually go something like this:
- They want you to come up with your talk topic. This is normal, if you want to speak at an event, it's usual to be asked to put thought into your talk topic.
- They want you to promote the event for them. Usually consisting of at least 2 emails to your list and 4 or more social media posts.
- They want to get a cut of something you sell (we'll talk about this later).
- And they want you to sell something for them, usually bundled recordings of all the calls.
Most telesummits are written as 'helpful, inspirational summits' but they actually function primarily sales and list building calls in disguise - see the last two bullet points and this post or this one as your evidence.
The idea is that every invited expert promotes the event to their list, and in turn, everyone gets their name more out there to new people, gets to benefit from everyone's clients and everyone makes money. It's a win-win for all.
Oh, and then telesummit calls are meant to help and inspire people.
The hosts require their invited speakers to promote the event to their own lists, and because of this, the hosts get the benefit of building a bigger list from the collective network of their 30 or so invitees.
Then, hosts sell the recordings of the calls to those who missed 'live' and they also require their experts to promote something they are selling, and the host takes a cut of that profit, too.
Telesummits, in an ideal world, are seasonal events that focus around a theme, where weekly calls are hosted for listeners each week of the event, featuring a new expert every week.
Basically, they extended weekend conferences that take place online.
And they are so different from the way it works in academia.
When you are invited as an expert panelist for an event in academia, it's an honor and nothing is required of you besides your beautiful, bold presence, and of course, a prepared talk usually involving a PowerPoint or something.
Guests pay for their admission, vendors pay for their booth space, and the invited experts don't pay for a thing.
No one gets a cut of the expert's earnings and the expects certainly aren't obligated to sell anything. As an expert, you get free attendance to the event, several meal tickets to the dinners and lunches, and a comp'ed hotel room.
All of this just for sharing your wisdom with the world to those who want to hear it.
Telesummits work differently, though.
And here is some give-it-to-you-straight information on them, so you can decide for yourself, if you'd want to participate.
- Telesummits take so much time
Generally, when asked to be a guest on a telesummit, you'll be asked for at least 3 things:
A prepared talk plus:
A freebie, discount or gift that you can give to the audience of the telesummit
Your promotion the telesummit through your social media lists and channels
Creating a talk alone takes time, and after that, promoting the goods, promoting the event and dealing with the customers you get (if any) also takes more time.
Generally, you can justify that time and effort if and when you are able to track your successes, but this leads me to my next point.
- telesummit hosts don't dish their data
Telesummits gain guest speakers by wooing them with potential benefits of participating, such as:
Benefit 1. A greater reach for your message!
Benefit 2. New potential clients! Exposure to over 30+ unique audiences!
Benefit 3. Connect with likeminded peers! Get inspired! Change the world!
Event hosts claim to offer you a bigger platform and access to a wider network of people to hear your message, but I have never met a telesummit host with a huge list and following of their own, usually it's quite the opposite, so, while they may promote this benefit to you, and make it sound like a mega tantalizing offer, let me tell you something.
For every telesummit I have been invited to, I have never once been provided the actual reach metrics of the event host or of the event itself.
I have, however, been asked for my own metrics (presumably so the host could decide if I had a big enough list for them to feed upon), that I've happily provided.
BUT in order for it to be a win-win relationship for me too, I'm a science girl - so I need to see your data, too!
Data is useful and needed it in order for both of us to make the best decision for our business models.
And thus far, no telesummit host has ever provided me with any measurable data on:
how many attendees we could expect would hear the talk
how many people the event would be marketed to
how many people ultimately did attend the event
how many guests have attended past events
I'm sorry, but I'm a science girl.
I need to see the numbers before I know if it's something I should be investing in.
For those who don't care about the event numbers, though, lets get more tangible than that for a moment.
Clients and reach.
Truth be told, I have booked only one single verifiable client ever from all of the events I've participated in. Others, have booked even less than that.
Not enough, guys, it's just not enough.
- Telesummit hosts require a cut of your earnings
Let's be clear. Telesummit hosts aren't animals.
They need to make money, they need to earn a living, and they too, just as I am, are guided to do what they think is best for their hustle.
I'm not against getting paid, but someone has to pay.
The event is free, and the host needs to make money, soooo, ummm, hmmmm that leaves.... yup... you.
This breaks my heart, you, but let me explain.
In academia, event guests happily pay for the wisdom of the leaders being all rounded up and accessible in a nice, friendly, universal meeting spot of a place.
In telesummits, the feature panelists have pay for the chance of having people hear them.
This is how it works: for a telesummit, part of the invitation always includes a section where they ask you (the feature panelist) to provide some payment in return for all the work they put into hosting you, the event, and everyone else. Usually this "payment" is a free gift you have to provide, a cut of something you have to sell, and/or/not limited to your time and effort into the event's promotion.
It's weird to me it works like this in the virtual industry, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, it's weird to others too (see for yourself here).
Guys, I'm not against anyone making a living.
I'm also not against anyone building their network.
Telesummits are a huge in effort on the host's end - the amount of time to research potential speakers, to have 30 minute calls with all of them to propose the idea, to send out the emails, to organize the materials - you get it - it's a lot of work to put one of these on.
But it IS hard for me to fork over hard-earned earnings to someone I just met, who has had no real stake in my journey or in my success up until this point.
And, it's hard especially because I know how it works so successfully differently in other fields.
I want to be an expert panelist, I do like talking to people and spreading my message, but I also wish the telesummit market would change and that the events would offer something more valuable to their panelists for all their hard work, than just the chance to be heard.
In the end, I've seen no real value in participating in a telesummit, other than the ability I now have to write this post, talk intelligently on the topic, and shed light on this ongoing debate, that is.
And to date, these are the take-aways:
- No major boost in abundance, clients or network has ever come from my participation in a telesummit
- No life-changing opportunities have arisen from me accepting an offer to a virtual global whatever
- And quite frankly, it's stressful for me just thinking about participating in another one
To not only provide the talk and topic, but also to sell, sell, sell to make the event worth it to the hosts, and not to mention all the promote, promote, promoting I have to do for someone else.
I prefer to create partnerships where there is an equal energy exchange and for now, the telesummit industry just isn't there yet.
But hey look.
You can't know if it's a good decision for you until you try it out and who knows, maybe you do, and you'll ultimately be the one who changes the telesummit game for the better.
If you've read all of this and you're still deciding whether or not you want to participate in a telesummit event as a speaker, just promise me you'll make sure to consider the following:
Is the audience of this event a correct match for my message?
Do I have the time to create the talk, the gift and the promotion of the event?
Do I know the metrics or potential impact for the event?
How much profit can I risk losing to the speaker right now?
Until then, make sure to get clear on what’s required of you before saying yes - because it may actually be more trouble than it's worth.
- Amanda Linette Meder
Last Updated: June 22, 2016
Disclaimer: This post was written from personal experience with the telesummit events I have been invited to, and does not necessarily reflect the experiences of the entire industry.