Build Business 2021 Call for Speakers

The Build Business 2021 Call for Speakers is now open.

Proposal submissions are due by January 8, 2021.

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 as a blended conference, both in-person at a reduced capacity and as a full virtual conference.

Marketers and business developers have faced many challenges this year. We have pivoted and focused, and now we will RISE together.
R = Resilience – Business, Economy, and Personal
I = Impact – Business Development, Marketing, Communication/Branding, and Community
S = Strength – Team Building, Management, and Strategic Planning
E = Equity – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Economic Inclusion, Workforce Diversity, and Diversity of Thought

To continue to help our conference participants and their firms grow, we’re looking for timely, relevant sessions outlined below to help our conference participants and their firms. As a reference, our conference attendees generally have 11-20 years of A/E/C experience within marketing and business development.

Proposal submissions, including your video submission, are due by January 8, 2021. Each speaker also is required to submit a 500‐word conference summary on their topic as well as a two-minute video that conveys to attendees why they should attend your session by March 5, 2021. Submitters will be notified if they are selected or not selected to present at Build Business 2021 by February 15, 2021.

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 their 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 during the conference

Session Formats

Transformation Sessions (30-60-minutes): Sessions to delivered in a variety of formats for all learning styles.

MAX Presentations (15-minutes): Short presentations sharing stories about innovation, leadership, networking, and successful professional relationships that leave participants inspired.

M-Live! (60-minutes): Interactive, talk-show style panel discussions aimed to guide participants through candid conversations on trending topics.

Focus Forward (30-minutes): Small, intimate group discussions delivered in roundtable formats and facilitated by marketing and business development professionals.

Skill-Building Labs (30-minutes): Tactical sessions that focus on elevating participants’ skills on technological topics, including:
• Software
• Process
• Trends

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 their 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 and Session 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 presenter 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 before.

Sessions should also:

  • 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.
  • Focus on leveraging marketing and business development to build strong, profitable businesses. Presentations should include forward‐thinking insights, marketing, business development, leadership strategies, measurement metrics, depending on the presenters’ expertise and specialty.
  • Highlight and encourage new ways of thinking with tools, insights, and inspiration to take businesses to the next level. We want our attendees to know: Amid a variety of changes and unprecedented times, how are innovative‐thinking and entrepreneurial marketing leaders adapting their strategies to benefit their companies?

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)

Top Reasons To Present

By joining us as a speaker, you’ll reach hundreds of participants ready to learn and bring new knowledge back to their firms. Presenting at Build Business also allows you to:

  • Position yourself as a thought leader to those within the A/E/C industries
  • Set the standard for best practices within A/E/C marketing
  • Engage with attendees and offer your insights and experiences
  • Help others and contribute to growth within the industries and their firms
  • Inspire attendees to thrive and lead their teams
  • Help create value within the profession
  • Equip participants with ideas and opportunities to transform their firms
  • Reach like-minded attendees who believe marketing-led firms are most successful
  • Present your research and data to an international audience within the profession

Submitting Your Proposal

All proposals for the Society’s 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’ll be guided through each step. You may exit and enter the system as many times as needed to edit and complete your proposal.

Per the guidelines, you’ll 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. The video submission is due by January 8, 2021.

Following are the 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

*You may submit a video of a previously recorded presentation.

Submit Your Proposal

If You Are Selected To Present: Session Summary and Video

If selected, speakers will be required to provide a session summary and session promotion video. Submitters will be notified by February 15, 2021, if they are chosen to present at Build Business 2021. 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 their topic as well as a two-minute video that conveys to attendees why they should attend your session by March 5, 2021.

Conference Recording

Please note, submission of a session proposal in response to this RFP conveys your permission to record your session if the conference planning committee selects it.




Please contact Marci Thompson, chief growth officer, with any questions about this process.