Friday, April 8, 2016

10 Tips for a Great Speaker Demo Reel

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

I've come to learn—and I'm sure you have, too—that this speaking and writing stuff consists of so much more than speaking and writing. 

When I first felt called to such a ministry, I dreamed of sitting at my desk, writing life-changing books, messages, and devotions, and then sharing those written words from the stage. I never envisioned the hours and energy I would spend getting those words out to those who needed to hear.

I never envisioned marketing.

But the truth of the matter is this: Without marketing, how will they hear my Good News message over the noise of the world? How will I have the opportunity to share His light in the darkness?

There are many elements we can use to get the word out. We know that websites, blogs, and one-sheets are great ways to show the insights and lessons we've learned and would like to share with the world. But another medium that catches their attention is the demo reel.

The demo reel is different from a 3-5 minute sample of your speaking. Instead of delivering a full (although short) message, the reel presents a 2-3 minute multi-media collage of you and your ministry, highlighting your gifts and demonstrating your ability to help event planners encourage and support their ministries by choosing you as their speaker.

Think you don't have enough multi-media types to fill a demo reel? Think again. Here are 10 suggested ingredients to get you started:
  1. Video excerpts - Remember that 3-5 video message we talked about? Find 10-30 second soundbites that will pique the event planners’ interest and draw them in. Multiple locations with several different types of messages will show your diversity.
  2. Audio sound bites of you speaking - Don't have video? No problem! Record your next session and then find a nugget or two to share.
  3. Headshots - Of course, you'll want to have your best headshots added to the reel, but don't limit yourself to them.
  4. Action photos of you - Take a friend along to take pics, ask for the event planner to arrange a photographer, or have great photos edited out from available video. The key is to grab interesting shots of you in action in a variety of settings.
  5. Other photos - Think beyond pictures of you. Consider photos of your book covers, signage from places you've spoken, flyers, and bookmarks. They add interest and depth to your reel.
  6. Excerpts from radio and TV interviews - Ask for copies of your TV and radio interviews and clarify your rights to use them. And be honest! The licensing of one of the best TV interviews I ever had restricted my rights to still photos. No audio at all. And of course, I had some great soundbites in that interview!
  7. Video testimonials
  8. Audio testimonials
  9. Graphics
  10. Outside voice overs. Some of my demos open and close with voiceovers. They're voices from professional voiceover artists, similar to radio announcers. They might announce your website, contact info, or upcoming book.

Here's my last demo reel. Please note that it's a few years old now and a little longer than I would include today. I'd definitely shorten the testimonials if I had it to do over again. Vonda Skelton Speaks to Women.

So what are you waiting for? Go through your radio archives, study your photos, and find a variety of ingredients to generate interest in your ministry. It can be fun and entertaining, and it’s a great way to generate interest in your ministry. Then go out and shine your light!


Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at


  1. Great advise, Vonda. I have been praying about doing a VLOG or short teachings for my blog. You just confirmed it. Also, I should use my radio experience to help others or myself. God is so good. May He strengthen you as you serve Him.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Cherrilynn. Your ideas sound great. I think you should move ahead with those ideas! :-) (I'm sorry this is late, but I was in the mountains for a weekend event and had extremely spotty internet service.)

  2. This is great. You've inspired me!

    1. Thanks, Lori. I'm thrilled to hear that it inspired you. Go for it!

  3. This is great. You've inspired me!