Is the summit model dead?

The summit is dead! Long live the summit!

Recently, we’ve been asked if the summit model is dead. Heck no! Is it constantly evolving? Absolutely, and we hope that we’re pushing that evolution with each and every event!

Too many people are hung up on quantity over quality. They might think 30,000 people at a summit indicates a failure. If you haven’t heard me say it before, you’re sure to hear it now, “Give me 100 people who will work together and we can change the world much more quickly than 10,000 who don’t care.”

In the past few weeks we’ve seen a bunch of summits in the 30-40k range, largely with hosts who don’t have massive reach (yet). There have even been a few over 100k in attendance, one even topped 200k. In January, we ran back-to-back summits with more than 100k in attendance.

No, the summit model isn’t dead.


There are 3 types of summits:

  • Mega-Summits: +60k in attendance and several hundred thousand in gross revenue.
  • Niche Summits: 20-60k in attendance, often focused on a particular health niche, like Lyme disease or oral health.
  • Mom & Pop Summits: Under 20k in attendance

All of these summits can be fruitful for a host, speakers and attendees. In fact, we’ve had a few niche summits convert over 10% of attendees to sales and generate hundreds of thousands in gross revenue.


1. The greatest issue we see: summit speakers spreading themselves too thin. Speakers with “names you know” could, likely, speak at an event each week, maybe two per week, but they won’t (and shouldn’t) promote all of those events.

Yet, they are accepting every opportunity to speak with no intention of promotion. (Read a previous HTO post, “The Human Side of Hosting a Summit,” to see how much this hurts a summit host.)

It is our belief that if a speaker truly looked at the returns from speaking at summits, they’d find that focused promotion on 1 or 2 per month would generate far greater visibility (and traffic back to their sites) than saying yes to every summit.

2. The other  issue we see is hosts reaching too high into the speaker pool. Host John is just starting out and could never imagine interviewing his role model, the iconic Speaker Jane. But, Jane is happy to speak and John is so ecstatic that he doesn’t ask or simply assumes that Jane will promote, but she doesn’t…even worse, perhaps she said she would, does the interview and then backs out of all promo. All of these are a killer to a Mom & Pop or Niche Summit, which could ultimately hit John hard in the pocketbook because he counted on sales from Speaker Jane’s promos. Guess what? John is no longer enamored with Jane!

There are only so many speakers per event, make the most of those opportunities by choosing speakers who are hungry and will work hard to generate impressions for your summit and the other speakers.


So, to recap!

  • Speakers, stop speaking at every summit who asks! Golden rule of summit speaking, “First do no harm!”
  • Hosts, make sure when you ask a speaker to speak that you get promotional commitments immediately: dates and channels to set expectations for both parties.
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