You can't just rely on speaker recommendations for diverse events

2020 is a difficult year. And, sadly, the problems we experienced as a society did not magically disappear when the calendar was flipped to 2021.

If those tough years have taught us anything, it's that we as individuals, brands, companies and teams need to work harder – together – of course. .

Last year, I wrote an article, Content can perpetuate racism and inequality. Time to do better , challenges content marketers to do better with diversity, equity, and inclusion. I include: “We must ensure that our content accurately reflects the diverse voices and experiences of our audiences and avoids unconscious bias. Otherwise, we are contributing to the problem.” And it will repeat again today.

We must ensure that our #content faithfully reflects the diverse voices and experiences of our audiences, @EditorStahl via @CMIContent said. #CMWorld #DiverseSpeakers Click to Tweet At CMI, we have worked for many years to bring more diverse voices and perspectives to our community through our event speakers, content contributors, and community partners. we. But we knew we needed to do more.

When we make a plan ContentTECH Summit and Content Marketing World In 2021, I'm sharing how we program them. And I'm asking for suggestions to ensure that we represent the breadth of ideas, backgrounds, interests, and experiences that our community includes and that meet all communications needs. display your content.

I hope that this look at our efforts to expand diversity in event content will be helpful to other content groups that share this goal.

If you have any ideas to represent the breadth of ideas, backgrounds, interests and experiences at Content Marketing World, ask @CMIContent general manager @EditorStahl. #CMWorld #CallForSpeakers Click to post

How we find event content and speakers

Months before our events began, CMI put out a call for speakers. We send messages via email, on social channels and through partner organizations, asking great speakers to have stories interesting content marketing to tell and useful lessons to teach.

For 2021, the call for ContentTECH Summit Speakers is open ( suggest session in February ). The call for Content Marketing World speakers begins February 8 and runs through March 12.

Speaker proposals for the #ContentTECH Summit to take place on February 12 and for #CMWorld on March 12. @EditorStahl said all are encouraged to submit via @CMIContent. #CallForSpeakers Click to post a Tweet We ask potential speakers to submit session proposals that include a title, brief description, and essentials to the audience. Candidates can also explain why CMI should choose their session and upload examples of other sessions they've presented.

This process generates hundreds of proposals – and our selection committee happily reads every one that comes in. But the process of finding speakers does not stop there.

We invite the top-rated speakers based on last year's session reviews to return and wow our audience once again. We recruit speakers for topics we know audiences want but don't engage with through speaker calls. We hunt for popular speakers who have something to say about content, creativity or marketing. And we hire because of diversity in subject matter, age, gender, race, experience and other aspects. That means we'll look for speakers if our submission doesn't turn out the way we expected.

Our position today

Where have those efforts taken us?

We have made great strides in recent years. Tina Fey passed the World Content Marketing stage in 2018 – first woman to give closing remarks . Mindy Kaling took the place there in 2019 and W. Kamau Bell joined us 2020 .

We also work to ensure that presentations include the perspectives of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and people of different ages and work experiences.

But the truth is that our process has only reached us so far. Even with hundreds of session applications, we still have gaps in many categories. Although we try to find speakers in less recommended categories, sometimes we fall short.

This year, we're redoubled efforts to fill those gaps.

Why speaker diversity matters to CMI (and the industry)

Sydni Craig-Hart, CEO and Co-Founder of Smart Simple Marketing, has put it best in Her World of Content Marketing 2020 presentations:

“We as a content marketing community have a really great opportunity to be advocates of diversity every day – to really show up for the people we claim to be. We want to serve. This is not a matter of color. This is not a matter of age or gender. It's a human problem.

"If you really want to be customer-centric, if you really want to invite diverse perspectives to the table, make sure you're creating those spaces."

That's what CMI wants for our events – to create those spaces (and, we hope, help others in the industry create them).

We will continue to connect with associations and organizations that support minority marketing professionals. We're asking event sponsors and other business partners to recommend people we may have missed. We hope that as the underrepresented voices find their place on our stage, more will feel comfortable joining in.

We know our community is the best place to look for ideas. Brothers always help each other. Now we are asking you to help us.

If you've seen a speaker that amazes you, if you know a content marketer with a great story to tell, if you've read something from someone who has a fresh, unusual, or popular point of view. underrepresented, feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions with us – in the comments, tweet us @ CMIContent drop in CMI Slack Community or email us.

To submit a presentation for the ContentTECH Summit, please follow these instructions before February 12. Want to present at Content Marketing World? Complete the proposal form February 8 to March 12 at .

Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute