Build Business 2020 Call for Speakers

The Call for Speakers has now closed for Build Business 2020

Speakers will be notified early-December 2019.

Hosted by the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), Build Business is the premier educational event for marketing and business development professionals in the A/E/C industries. Our annual conference focuses on building business and will take place in Austin, TX, from August 12–14, 2020.

The three‐day conference will blend the concepts of Build Yourself, Build Your Firm, and Build the World. When leveraged together, these concepts create a better person, a better company, and a better industry. Those selected to speak at Build Business will be chosen because of their ability to inspire, challenge, and support the success in the participants’ careers and lives.

Build Yourself

Sessions will encompass coaching and professional career development to help attendees build essential skills that will advance their career in all practice settings and at all levels within the profession.

Build Your Firm

Sessions will focus on how to leverage marketing and business development to build strong, profitable businesses. Speakers will focus on forward‐thinking insights, marketing, business development, leadership strategies, measurement metrics, and more.

Build the World

Sessions will highlight and encourage new ways of thinking with tools, insights, and inspiration to take businesses to the next level. Amid technological and economic changes, how are fresh‐thinking and entrepreneurial marketing leaders adapting their strategies to benefit their companies?

Speaker Benefits

Participation as a presenter in Build Business is voluntary. In recognition of a presenter’s contribution of time and effort, a complimentary full‐conference registration is awarded to presenters whose proposals are accepted. However, each presenter remains responsible for his or her own expenses (travel, lodging, etc.).

By participating, presenters will:

  • Connect with the largest community of A/E/C marketers and business developers and firm leaders (an audience of more than 1,000 attendees)
  • Elevate their public speaking and professional development skillset
  • Experience various networking opportunities over the course of three days

Session Formats

Breakout Sessions: 75-90-minute sessions to be delivered in a variety of formats for all learning styles.

MAX Presentations: Short 15-minute presentations sharing stories about innovation, leadership, networking, and successful professional relationships.

M-Live!: Interactive, talk show style panel discussions aimed to guide attendees through candid conversations on trending topics.

Mind Exchange: Small, intimate group discussions delivered in roundtable formats and facilitated by marketing and business development professionals.

Digital Skills Lab: Technology-driven, hands-on learning workshops, covering such topics as InDesign, Photoshop, Google Analytics, Excel, Photography, and Video Production.

Continuous Learning Philosophy

SMPS believes learning is a progression, not simply the transfer of information from an expert to a learner. To uphold this philosophy, SMPS actively seeks speakers who possess the following key qualities:

  • Command of Subject Matter: Each speaker is chosen based on his or her expertise in a specific content area.
  • Willingness to Teach: While command of the subject is essential, it is not the entire picture. Speakers should enjoy teaching and be willing to put forth effort to create a memorable learning experience.
  • Effective Interpersonal Skills: The ability to read and react to audiences is a prerequisite for a good communicator. Effective speakers and moderators are most concerned with what the audience is learning.
  • Effective Listening Skills: Good listeners use reflective listening techniques before responding to a question from the audience. This ensures that the speaker or moderator understands what is being asked and validates to the learners they are being heard.
  • Use of Sound Instructional Methods: Adults learn more when they are actively involved. SMPS asks that all speakers and instructors find ways to increase involvement and interactivity of participants.
  • Willingness to Improve: Speakers will receive feedback based on evaluations from the participants, audience comments, and observation.

We believe that most effective learning comes when participants are truly engaged. In your proposal, please share how you will engage the audience. Think interactive presentations and audience participation. Participants are looking for ideas, skills, and techniques to take back and put into practice. We ask our presenters to help them along. Consider handouts, templates, samples, and guidelines.

View the SMPS Standards of Learning

General Proposal Guidelines

Tips for writing a good proposal for a great conference session:

  • Help the conference planning committee understand why your session is the right one for Build Business.
  • Keep the audience in mind: they’re technical and professional. They will easily detect a marketing pitch.
  • Clearly identify the level of the talk and why people will want to attend. Is it for beginners or for gurus? Is this a trending topic or a tutorial?
  • Be bold and creative in your exploration of a topic. Audience members enjoy stories about what went wrong, what went right, how you selected a technique, and the human dynamics of applying a certain business development or marketing approach.
  • Be authentic. Your peers need original presentation ideas that focus on real world scenarios, relevant examples, and knowledge transfer.
  • If you are proposing a panel, tell us who else would be on it.
  • Present something relevant. One of your challenges as a proposer is to demonstrate that you understand attendees might need an extra reason to pay attention to something they might otherwise think of as “settled.”
  • Consider the following learning styles when developing your proposal: visual, auditory, and tactile.
  • Utilize original content. Your subject matter should not be material that you have presented on before.

Writing Learning Outcomes

In preparing proposals, presenters are asked to provide learning outcomes for the sessions they are proposing. Learning outcomes are statements that specify what participants will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. These encompass knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes. Learning outcomes accomplish the following:

  • Focus on behavior that needs to be changed
  • Serve as guidelines for content, instruction, and evaluation
  • Identify specifically what needs to be learned
  • Convey to the learner exactly what needs to be accomplished

Learning outcomes are truly learner‐centered, observable, measurable actions by the learner. Learning outcomes contain three elements:

  1. Who is to perform,
  2. What actions they are to take, and
  3. A result to be achieved.

A sample learning outcome would be:

Attendees will identify their firm’s differentiators to develop a unique value proposition.

(who) (action) (outcome or result)

Submitting Your Proposal

The Call for Speakers is now closed for Build Business 2020.

All proposals for the SMPS conference must be submitted electronically via the Build Business Online Abstract Submission System. The submission process is managed entirely in an online environment. When accessing the system, you will be guided through each step of the submission process. You may exit and enter the system as many times as needed to edit and complete your proposal.

Per the guidelines, you will be required to submit a three‐to five‐minute video that demonstrates your presentation style. The video will be viewed by the Conference Planning Committee as part of the vetting process. Videos are due on October 31, 2019, so that you can submit your proposal by the deadline.

Following are the simple steps you’ll need to take to submit your video*:

  1. Record your video through your computer’s camera or with a mobile device
  2. Upload your video to a video sharing platform such as: Vimeo, YouTube, etc.
  3. Provide the link to your video in your application or email to

*or you may submit a video of a previously recorded presentation

If You Are Selected To Present: Session Summary and Video

Selected speakers will be required to provide a session summary and session promotion video. The summary provides attendees with additional information to consider as they decide which sessions to attend. Conference summaries may be published in SMPS publications with prior notification of and credit to the author. Videos will be published on the SMPS YouTube channel. Each speaker is required to submit a 500‐word conference summary on his or her topic as well as a two-minute video that conveys to attendees why they should attend your session by January 27, 2020.

Conference Recording

To make the valuable information from Build Business accessible to individuals who cannot attend the conference, Build Business educational sessions may be audio or video recorded and made available via the SMPS and Build Business websites and YouTube channel after the conference. This is an excellent opportunity for presenters as it expands their exposure to a greater audience.

Submission of a session proposal in response to this RFP requires your acceptance of this requirement and conveys your permission to record your session if the conference planning committee selects it.


Please contact Amanda Smith, vice president of knowledge and professional development, with any questions about this process.