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How to Make a Sizzle Reel Sizzle

Do you want to be a really sought-after speaker? Then you need a great sizzle reel!

A sizzle reel is a short compilation of your best speaking moments, structured much like a movie trailer, and showing highlights from previous speaking engagements. There is a story arc in a sizzle reel, just like there’s a story arc in a movie trailer. You start, you build, you close.

Your sizzle reel needs smart content.

It must be engaging, so buyers will lean into it and be excited to bring you on for their event. Don’t just throw together three minutes of haphazard clips. You need to tell a story, display energy, show some audience response.

Companies and events want to know if a potential speaker is engaging; not just in content, but also whether you have stage presence and wide appeal. You need to be able to show that you can speak in different environments, from large stage events to small, intimate gatherings. To make the best impression, these clips should be professionally filmed. If it looks like you recorded a couple seconds of video on a cellphone, the sizzle reel will seem unprofessional – and so will you.

It’s rare that someone comes right out of the gate with a good sizzle reel; it might take six months or a year to compile. Professional speakers diligently collect video every time they speak, and they update their sizzle reel every time they do something new.

What you can do to improve.

As soon as you start moving into keynote speaking, you need to start building a list of events where you’ve spoken, companies that have invited you to present, and any other events you’ve headlined. Start that list, and each time you add to it, ask the vendors if you can have a digital copy of your speech. Manufacture opportunities to acquire video copies of your keynote, and keep updating that folder with new content, different audiences, and exceptional moments from your career.

The best speakers invest a lot of time and energy to make sure they have a good open and a good close for their speeches. Having a strong close is one of the most essential things a keynote speaker can do – but remember, you don’t want to give away the best parts of your speech in the sizzle reel. Be sure to show solid content, but lead up to the larger points, don’t reveal them in their entirety. Like a trailer for a horror movie, you don’t show the monster! If you have a big twist at the end of your keynote, don’t give that away in the sizzle reel. Hint at it, show some of the build-up, but save the big a-ha for the event.

A good sizzle reel is your best introduction.

It’s the piece that proves your credibility and makes an events planner eager to hire you to speak. So be sure that your introduction shows your talent – and your content – in the best light possible.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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