Help us find the next search industry rising star for SearchLove San Diego 2019

After the success of running community speaker sessions at SearchLove London we are delighted to be bringing them to our American conferences, starting with SearchLove San Diego in March 2019. Our community speaker sessions are 20 minutes long, presented by relatively new speakers, who we support and coach and then give the chance to stand on stage in front of 200+ digital marketers from around the world.

If this sounds like something you would love to experience, then we are on the lookout for speakers who:

  • Are San Diego locals (no further than 2-2.5 hours drive from the venue). We want to support the community where our conference runs and help our speakers raise their local profile.
  • Have some speaking experience, preferably a couple of speaking gigs, and are looking to break onto an even bigger stage.
  • Are available to join us at SearchLove San Diego on March 4 & 5, 2019.

When you’ve had a read of everything that follows, swing by our form and apply for a space. You’ve got just over 2 weeks to apply (deadline: December 19, 2018).

apply now

What’s in it for us and our audience?

Every time we put on a SearchLove show, we (led by our head of events, Lynsey) scour the industry for the best speakers we can find. We often invite back people who blow us away and wow our audience, but we also want to find speakers no-one has seen before. Sometimes we find great speakers who have deep experience in related fields who are underexposed to the search industry, but sometimes we want to be the ones who help people break out for the first time.

In addition to the long game of building partnerships with the great speakers of tomorrow, we believe that these shorter sessions with a little less pressure could end up bringing perspectives and viewpoints we can’t get from our more experienced speakers. Speaking experience often comes with general experience, and that often accompanies moves to management or the growth of the speakers’ own companies. One of the things we also want to see is hands-on advanced and actionable advice from practitioners who are doing the work every day.


We’re also hopeful that we can access a more diverse pool of speakers with different backgrounds and experiences. There are unfortunate barriers in place to getting some of the experience that we typically require and while we put a lot of effort into broadening our intake, we hope that this initiative can play a key role in building the pipeline. (You can tell we’re serious about building a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for our speakers and delegates from the way we bake our code of conduct into our events, and our recent progress: in an industry with too many manels, SearchLove Boston 2018 was our first conference with >50% women speakers and had women appearing as the top-rated speaker and 3 of the top 5 speakers by overall rating).

We know that we will get a bunch of overconfident white men applying (yes, I see the irony in my writing that) but if that doesn’t describe you, I’d especially encourage you to throw your hat in the ring.

What’s in it for you?

This should be the shortest path from knowing what you’re talking about to getting full speaking opportunities on the industry’s biggest stages. We’ve already seen our SearchLove London community speakers getting accepted to speak at bigger events. We have also seen first hand the speed that you can move from presenting at a meet-up to local conferences to SearchLove, MozCon or Inbound. But up until now, most of the non-Distilled speakers who made it to the SearchLove stage did so after proving themselves at another major conference.

Here’s the full package you’ll receive if you are successful (along with your 20 minutes on stage!):

  1. Introduction call with the Distilled team
  2. Multiple video calls to run through your presentation with the Distilled team and get feedback
  3. Deck review and content call to bounce around your session ideas
  4. 1 to 1 ongoing support from a Distilled team member
  5. Final in-person review with myself and the Distilled team in San Diego before the conference
  6. VIP ticket to attend SearchLove San Diego including attending the VIP dinner with all the other speakers the night before the conference
  7. A nice bunch of Distilled and SearchLove swag

We are extremely excited to be rolling this scheme out to our US events after the success of London (all 3 community  speakers ranked in the top 8 speakers and one broke into the top 3!), we want to give this opportunity to local folks, and so we'll only be accepting pitches from applicants living within the San Diego area (2-2.5 hours drive from the venue)  for this particular conference.

A note on the video requirement

You will note that the application form asks for a video. We debated whether to include this as a requirement and ultimately came down on the side of including it because by far the biggest limitation we typically have with less experienced speakers’ pitches is an inability to judge how they’ll perform on stage when they don’t have a ton of speaking experience and professional on-stage video. We hope that this is the most inclusive way of achieving this. We’re trying to avoid the too-high hurdle of requiring professional footage and this is something everyone can put together.

We are not expecting you to put together a professionally-lit and shot promo video. We want to see your enthusiasm, public speaking capability, and maybe a bit of your depth of knowledge. A selfie video shot on a mobile phone can totally do the job, but think about how you are going to stand out from the crowd and show us what we need to see. Once you have recorded the video upload it to a hosting platform such as Google Drive, Wistia, YouTube or Vimeo and share the URL in your application form.

In order to avoid asking you to do something I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself, I’ve recorded a short pitch myself. You can see that it’s shot on a phone, and didn’t use any editing:

A personal note

I’ve seen in my own career how powerful it has been to get better at public speaking and also the benefits of appearing on bigger stages. Having run a successful Community Speaker program at our London conference, I know that we can help more people on this journey.

I’ve been lucky enough to get enough of a start at our own events to bootstrap my way to bigger opportunities but I remember the 20 or so people who paid less than 20 bucks each to come to our first meet-up. We have also now built up enough of a support and coaching capability within Distilled that we have helped members of our team go from their first speaking opportunity to highly-rated SearchLove sessions in a matter of months. I want to bring those opportunities to more people. That means YOU.

I would strongly encourage you to think about the actual requirements. Don’t fall prey to imposter syndrome: are there things you are passionate about, where you have deep hands-on knowledge, and where you can teach even an experienced audience new things? If so, don’t sweat your speaking experience - let us be the judge of potential and get your application in.

How to apply

You’ll need to tell us:

  • Why you’d like to speak at SearchLove San Diego
  • Where you are based
  • What your speaking experience looks like so far
  • What topic you’d like to talk about - the more specific and actionable a topic you can describe, the better
  • Remember, the closing date for applications is December 19, 2018

And you’ll need to send us a short video as I described above!

apply now

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more