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5 Steps to Hosting a Popular and Profitable Telesummit

  • Mike RafatiMike Rafati

As a solopreneur or small business owner, you know how important it is to establish yourself as an expert in your field. All the things you need to do, creating multiple income streams, and building customer lists become easier when you have the halo of authority to help light your way. Hosting a telesummit is one way you can accomplish all of these things.

Telesummits are virtual events that are very similar to a business conference or live seminars where you invite many experts to come together and educate the attendees on their area of expertise. The big difference is that a Telesummit is a totally virtual event. Telesummits provide an opportunity to gather great speakers, interview them, establish yourself as an expert, offer a great value to your audience, and even create subsidiary products you can sell after the fact. How’s that for a multitasker?

The first time I attended a telesummit, I was absolutely amazed. Being from the corporate world, I was familiar with seminars and conferences, but had never been to a telesummit before. We were used to spending large sums of money to travel to events in order to meet with experts and talk to them in person. Now, I had an opportunity to learn from the experts without leaving my home office. New technology and the dedicated work of the organizers mean that I could ask the participants questions and have a conversation with them. Amazing.

I decided that it would be a huge boon to my business if I could host a similar event – or several!

As mentioned, organizing a telesummit is no mean feat, and there are plenty of things that can go wrong. To help you avoid some of the pitfalls, I’ve put together the five most important steps in hosting a telesummit – I hope you enjoy!

To Keep in Mind…

Make no mistake about it; organizing and hosting a telesummit is a lot of work. However, professionals can gain a lot of experience from doing so and the results are well worth the effort. Likewise, attending a telesummit as a speaker may be worth your time and energy, assuming you will be talking to your target market. It is a great opportunity to develop your list through the registration, and to share your information with a large group of new people, as well as providing you with an opportunity for client attraction. Here is the best part: you can do it all telesummits and speak from the comfort of your own office or home.

Although hosting a telesummit can offer an enormous boost to your business, many people are hesitant to put on their own event. One of the biggest obstacles is fear. Fear of rejection and wondering if speakers will actually be willing to join and participate are two of the most common obstacles that people experience. Additionally, some people may feel hindered by a lack of knowledge, both in terms of technology and comfort with conducting an interview (in front of an audience no less!). In essence, they doubt their own ability to pull off a successful event.

Happily, all of these obstacles or easily overcome with a little planning and preparation!

Now, for the five steps to setting up your own telesummit:

Step 1: Define Your Theme

Before you do anything else, you have a settle on a brilliant, relevant and interesting topic for your telesummit. The topic will need to attract both speakers and attendees, so careful consideration is in order. The main drive of your event must be an issue that is a real pain point for your audience, and be within the realm of expertise and experience for your speakers. It’s not always an easy balance to strike, using the customer profile template and validating your assumptions, as well as looking at your competition can help.

Spend some time creating a mission statement and outline for the telesummit. Pay careful attention to the issues you’re addressing, and the benefit you’re going to be offering.

The next step is to decide on a headline that is eye catching and relates your telesummit’s value to your market. The title is very important and it must directly talk to your intended audience. A great headline will attract the right people and compel your target market to sign up for your telesummit. Remember your six buttons of buzz!

Step 2: Plan Your Event

Planning the event is probably the most important part of the whole enterprise. The work you do in preparation for the telesummit will determine your success or failure, so under no circumstances should you skimp on this step!

You need to decide:

  • When it will be held. Consider the lifestyle and location of your speakers and your attendees.
  • How many speakers you will invite, and who they will be.
  • What format your content is going to take, whether it’s interview, lecture or conversational in style.
  • What technology you’ll be using. Consider things like price, interface, and customer reviews.
  • How you will handle registration. Will you have a page on your business website, or set up something specifically for the telesummit.
  • Is your telesummit going to be free or paid?
  • Whether your event will be live, or based on recordings.
  • What kind of takeaways attendees will get – a recording, handouts, speaker notes?
  • What you will do with the materials and recordings you collect live.
  • Will you be selling a product or service on the Telesummit? Are you set up to handle sales?
  • How Interactive will your telesummit be? Will people be able to ask questions, and speak directly with speakers?

You have to be sure you can answer all of these questions before you move on to the next step – because you can be sure that a high-profile expert will be asking about these details.  As you make your plans, start creating a document that you will be able to provide to the experts you invite that answers all of these questions, and a different one for prospective attendees to let them know what they’re in for. The more detail about the benefits they’ll receive, both as speakers and attendees, the more successful your event will be.

Step 3: Lining Up Your Experts

You want to invite speakers who are aligned with your message and can provide great content that will appeal to your target audience. Therefore, it is best to begin by creating a list of speakers that you want to have at your telesummit. Industry experts, business owners, innovators, and other success stories can all be potential speakers for your event.

Here is where that document you created in the last step will come in handy. Make sure to also include what you expect form a speaker, and what they can expect from you. Remember that while these speakers are getting value out of being at your event, they are largely doing you a favor, and you need to make it as easy and appealing for them as possible.

Not all speakers will agree to join your telesummit, so you should consider contacting a larger number of speakers that you actually want to have. Worst case scenario you’ll have to make the summit a little longer – but that means you’ll be able to provide more and more value! It helps if you know the speakers personally or professionally, but go for the best and most appropriate speakers for your market even if you do not have a prior relationship.  Speakers provide the content, but you need to be very clear about what you are asking for. Uncertainty on your part will be a huge turn off to a busy expert.

Reach out to potential speakers by phone If possible, or by email if not. Make sure you have excellent information about your audience, message, goals and marketing on hand to answer questions as they come up. The more speakers that agree to attend your summit, the more likely it will be for others to sign up. It might be a good plan to stagger your invitations over a few days, so you have some confirmations before you contact others. Start with people you have the closest relationships too, that are the most likely to agree, so that when you get to the people who have less information about who you are, you have more social proof that you’re a solid investment.

Step 4: Promote the Telesummit

Promoting your event is the other major part of hosting a telesummit. All the hard work in preparation will be lost if you have six people show up!

You can expect that most experts will probably tell their lists and networks about the event, but do not rely on it and absolutely do not ask for it. Getting eyes to the telesummit is your job – not your speakers’. Feel free to provide swipe copy for your speakers – if you make it easy and convenient to share information about your event, they may do so – but remember that they are busy people, and already providing you with huge value.

You are the marketing manager for your event, and you’ll want to have a comprehensive strategy in place as far in advance as possible. There are many ways to market your events, both online and offline. You can send an email to your list, promote your event on social media websites, and find other partners that are willing to support you. Guest posting on related blogs is also a good bet. Also, keep in mind that the marketing continues until that last day of your event, and be prepared for more people to join you in the middle of the telesummit.

Step 5: Closing and Packaging

After the end of your telesummit, you will want to know how you’ve done and what you can improve on for the next time. You also want to take the opportunity to build on your relationships with your speakers and attendees. It’s time for thank you notes!

After the telesummit send a feedback request to all attendees. Make it a simple survey, or email they can respond to, and ask one or two specific questions that it will be easy for them to respond to. Asking for this at the same time as offering a recording or the speaker notes will likely get you a positive result.

Speakers will be very interested in how well they were received, so when you write thanking them for their participation, include any positive comments you received from the audience about them. Emphasis how much you appreciated their help in making the event a success, and be sure to offer yourself for similar favors in the future.

Another thing to consider is that now you have a solid product that you can package and market. The recording of the telesummit can be made into a video product or audio series you can sell. It is very important to get permission from the speakers, and give them the opportunity to be an affiliate of any sales that result.

In Conclusion…

Hosting a telesummit requires a lot of planning and work and there are many details that go into creating a successful event, but it can also be a rewarding and profitable experience. By planning carefully, and always considering the needs and wants of your target market you can avoid many of the pitfalls and mistakes that first time telesummit hosts make.

It’s not likely that your Telesummit, especially a first one, will go without a hitch – be ready for mistakes, and don’t beat yourself up over them too much. The more events of this type you run, the more comfortable you will be with the process.

Okay, over to you. Have you ever hosted, spoken at or attended a telesummit? What did you like? What didn’t you like?

20 thoughts on 5 Steps to Hosting a Popular and Profitable Telesummit

Sheyi |

I’ve not participated in any but I’m pretty sure soonest, I’ll be hosting mine. Well, I am currently searching for the right speaker as the topic is not my main niche but I have an authority site in that niche.

You’ve laid the foundation of all success to telesummit here.

This is going to help me real big. from planning to promotion etc…


Mike Rafati

Great Sheyi, Good luck with it, let me know how it goes.

Mike Kawula

Great Outline! Is it common to also share those attendees with the experts you have on the call?

Mike Rafati

Hi Mike, Great question, it is not a common practice to give the list to others without their permission. On telesummits you are promising your attendees that you will not share their email and name with others. No one wants to receive 100s of email from people they don’t know. However, experts can offer a free gift (report, ebook, …) as a way to entice the attendees to go to their website and enter their email address to receive the gift. This is a common practice for experts to build their list.

Mike Kawula

Thanks for the fast response & advice! Good Luck!

Elaine Cougler

Useful and instructive post, Mike! I will be sure to keep this to reference if and when I do a similar summit. Thank you!

J. Delancy

I’ve attended several webinars and telesummits, and always wondered how they were put together. Thanks for the instruction even though I feel I’m a long way off from doing one.

Mike Rafati

Hi J.
Webinars are much easier, you can create a presentation or present a report using a free tool like or one of the paid tools like instant teleseminar or gotomeeting. It is a great way to show your skills. But, telesummits are a lot of work and require a lot more management. So, I highly suggest you us teleseminars and webinars for your business.

Marie Rotter

Great information! The most important points I think you brought up is to define your themes and identify key takeaways. With themes, there should be a bulleted list of “by the end of this teleseminar you will be able to….” and frame your questions to speakers around those topics. Speakers are more likely to get involved if they know what they will be talking about. As far as takeaways, ask your speakers if there’s anything they would like to add (link to a whitepaper, discount on their book, etc.) As long as it fits in with your theme, it won’t be too “salesy” — participants will be turned off by a straight sales pitch. That allows you to say something like they’re getting $400 worth of information for $150. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

Mike Rafati

Great points Marie, it is very important to develop your questions around the theme.

Adeline Yuboco

Great post, Mike!

I have attended quite a few webinars and online conferences, and I have to agree that planning a theme and sticking to this theme throughout the webinar, online conference or telesummit is essential. When people sign up for a webinar or telesummit, they already have expectations set towards this. If they don’t see that their expectations are being met within the first few minutes of the webinar, they will just opt out. The next time that you offer another webinar, they will no longer bother. Worse, they might even discourage other people who are signing up for any webinars or telesummits offered by the same speaker.

Piers | Kickstarters'HQ

We’ve actually worked at putting one of these together ourselves, although to be honest we ran into problems and ended up putting the event on hold until later.

Specifically we had issues with:
* Speakers not wanting to take part in an event where their talks were going to be sold… without them getting paid.
* Speakers being afraid of “giving away” content they had in their books or courses.
* Speakers not understanding the model, and saying no from a position of “It sounds too good to be true…”
* Speakers wanting to be able to put the interview up on their site as soon as it’s recorded (negating the value of the event).
* Speakers being afraid of mentioning it to their list.

Since then we’ve learned a lot about getting through to speakers and encouraging them to come and talk. In fact, it’s one of the main things we do now.

Some of the things we learned that helped:
* Making the event free to attend made them more comfortable.
* Monetize something *other* than the talks themselves (ie sell a related workbook, not recordings of the talks).
* Make the talks available on YouTube *after* the event, with full branding on them sending people back to your site. Make them embeddable. If you followed the previous point, you can then ease speakers fears by telling them that *yes* they’ll be able to put the interview on their site (but this way you get the views, the traffic, the “likes” on YouTube etc).
* Accept that some speakers will be happy to mail for you, some won’t. We encourage speakers to promote “their” interview, but understand that particularly some of the bigger speakers won’t. If their content is good, or their name has good pull, it’s still worth it.

Hope that helps someone starting out! Once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun getting to talk to and learn from very smart people! Sharing it is even more fun, again. 🙂

Mike Rafati

Great points Piers, it is more difficult if the speakers don’t know you, but it helps if you know your core speakers and then get them to help you or introduce you to other speakers. Most speakers want more visibility and they will send emails for your if they see value in what you are doing.

Rosa Conti

Hello Mike, excellent post. Thank you!

Question – I’ve been scouring the Internet looking for a Telesummit ‘company’ or ‘service’ that I can hire to do all the backend tech stuff for me … and haven’t been successful in finding anything. Do you know where I can find a credible + affordable virtual event planning company?

Thank you in advance! 🙂


Hi Rosa,
I am working with Helen Vandenberghe @TheLaunchQueen
Wendy @TheTweepleQueen


Thanks, Wendy! That’s helpful!

Mike Rafati

Hi Rosa,
Thank you for your question. I don’t know anyone personally, I teach how to do your own telesummit. Here is a quick tip, most telesummits don’t make enough money these days, so you must keep the cost under control. I hope this helps.




Hi Mike,
Helen, Has helped her clients to make a lot of money running a telesummit. I am sure she would love to have a chat with you.


Great article really straight forward. Is there a rundown sheet that was used ?

Patrice Williams

I was a participant/speaker at a telesummit on crowdfunding. The organizer had me sign an agreement saying she would be offering the videos at a later date. I didn’t mind, but now wish I would have received more benefits. I did offer a few free copies of my books as giveaways. But I never saw any traffic from doing this.

The organizer had her ducks in a row and was very professional, but I don’t believe it was a huge success. I’ve personally created film festivals from scratch, and I believe a telesummit may be almost as much work.

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