I have been working with speakers and planners a long time and have seen firsthand the gig-winning results of having the right images (online photos of you). The same is true in reverse, that planners will click away quickly to the next candidate, if they land on a page with certain types of images of you.
When chosen carefully to make the right impressions on the right people, your online shots can increase your bookings exponentially.
You must be careful to build a positive personal image which will be well-received by audiences. But sometimes you might forget that your images are spread virtually everywhere over the Internet. The physical person you present at the event is not always your audience’s first impression of you, right? Why is that? Simple searches online.
You are Googled, Binged, Firefoxed and more. You’re stored everywhere. Forever.
You do it, I do it, meeting planners most certainly do it. We research people before we do business with them.
Everyone sees your public on the Internet with only a few keystrokes. Eyes immediately scroll to images when landing on a page. Your images on your site, social, your speaker Onesheet and marketing material create, or destroy, a confidence that is the foundation of your career. Take a quick pause and search your name and select the “images” tab. Like what you see? Anything cringe worthy? Snooze time? Update needed? Too out of focus to tell which decade it’s from?
Time to get to work.
The Secret to Perfect Images is Easier Than You Think
First impressions are critical, and an online image will most often be your first impression.
Let’s face it, books are still judged by their covers. Cover art is a multi-billion dollar driving force behind sale. Same goes for your online images of yourself. Now, you do not have to be a knock-out in order to catch the eye of a Googler, but you do want to be unique, well presented and creative. Be bold, but be you, most of all.
Planners move fast.
With a hundred things on their visual plate, they need to make quick decisions, which means that images and the Internet will play a huge part in their initial reactions to your platform. It is just a fact. They check you out online before even thinking of picking up the phone. Many planners work in teams and may not be the final decision maker at their organizations. They’ll present their internet research to the team or boss. Their job security depends on presenting trustworthy and engaging prospective speakers. The images you choose to represent yourself online are part of that selling package they’ll be presenting in their team meetings.
Your outward appearance and the branded images you choose to represent yourself on your website and social media have undeniable impacts, positive or negative, on the perception that the hiring party can have of you and your content.
As a professional speaker, it is Job #1 to grab people’s attention, drawing them in past your image to learn more about what you have to say. Job #2 is to wow them with your expertise, but it only starts after you’ve succeeded in job one. Present the public with images that will hold their attention long enough for you to draw them in. Pique their interest to want to devote more time and attention to reading further to learn more about you and your work.
Be creative with your images! Put some design and artistic sensibility into them. Don’t know how? Hire someone who does or ask a friend or relative to help you. My recommendation is to be fun, be yourself, and be a little (or a lot) daring if it suits your niche. Maybe yours is one that requires a more stately and refined approach. You can still be sure you’re connecting with your audience’s emotions with your images. Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone or to break with traditional norms. Be you, authentic and true and accessible. But remember, to keep it tasteful and personal & brand image friendly. These stay cached….forever. If you feel like it’s a pre-share “no”, trust that gut check and keep working on it.
You will stand out from the crowd and create a personal, branded image. Perhaps you’re always leaning towards a traditional head and shoulder shot. Try something different! Traditional profile images are just that – traditional. Read out-dated, stale, and boring. Don’t go too far in the other direction though and forget trustworthiness and professionalism. Strike a balance between platform command and friendliness, attainability and expertise, professional and real-person-know-how.
3 Fixes That Will Change the Way You Share Images Online
Video: 4 Ways to Bring Your Images to the Next Level
Be relatable. Nothing turns a person away (including planners) when they can’t relate to your image right away. Wear clothes appropriate to your area of expertise, but keep the viewers in mind. If you talk to professionals, wear a suit and tie, dress or suitcoat and dress shoes. Your images online should showcase attire to match whom you serve. I always say to be yourself and if you’re not comfortable in a suit or a dress, you can wear a nice pants suit and dress pants with a button-down shirt.
I will tell you this, though, if your target audience are high earning pros, then you better get comfortable dressing like them and quick. If your audience is a young crowd you wouldn’t wear the suit, it’s not relatable for them, right? Do dress age appropriately though, younger audiences get throw by, and then stop listening to, people who are posing.
Same goes for the images you share. If you are showcasing that you speak to college and high school audiences, then you shouldn’t have all your images in a suit. A good planner for this market wants to know that you can reach their audience, and how you present yourself, matters.
Smile. Is it really necessary now to remind people of that? Well, yes. Yes it is. And smile with your eyes, not just your mouth. If it’s not authentic, there’s an immediate disconnect with the planner. Share images that capture your true, spontaneous smile so you can make an immediate good impression and connection. More smiles equal more connections which relate to more bookings.
High quality images. Might as well just put your site in “under construction” mode if all you have are low quality, out of date shots. Sometimes people get in a hurry and quickly upload a lack luster or outdated image. People online are sophisticated today and they don’t want to see low-quality images. Low quality = low professionalism in their minds. Smart phones are now so advanced that just about anyone can snap a few very good quality images of you. Take your time. You want to get hired. Don’t lose a great opportunity because you didn’t want to take the time to retake an image, find a different one, resize it or edit it. Remember, too, this shot might be online for a few years on your site alone, but it will be cached forever.
4 Ways to Bring Your Images to the Next Level
- Wear pleasing colors that reflect your brand and personality
- Use background images – photo backdrops are inexpensive these days
- Use props that tell your story in the background
- Make your headshot different than the run-of-the-millions out there
Keep your image consistent across platforms to build your brand. Meeting planners not only want a professional, they want a speaker who is fun (or at least entertaining and engaging), relatable, relaxed, full of energy, and looks like they live what they’re talking about. They need to have confidence that you can connect with their audience immediately so they can fill seats and you can solve problems.
And it all starts with a few well-curated images of you online. What could be easier?
Ready to level up your speaking game? Join our fantastic Facebook group “Grow Your Speaking Biz” to learn, share, grow and get connected today.