Many conferences and some firms expect speakers to speak without payment. I find this is true no matter what industry they’re in… but the accounting and finance industries are big culprits of not only asking speakers to speak for free… but some also ask speakers to pay them to speak! After all, "you could get some business". And it does happen sometimes, when you speak for free, that you do gain a client or two.
You could be asked to speak at 7am or 7pm and it would take you a few hours or a plane ride to get to the event.
Worst yet, is when a business doesn’t want to pay for a speaker.
For the first few years in business I never thought to ask for anything in return when I spoke. I was busy speaking, running around like crazy, but made little money from the sales of products or services afterwards. I wanted to be a professional speaker — someone whose business it is to speak for payment.
What learned is that if an organization doesn’t value its’ speakers, the audience won’t either.
At that time I started attending the National Speakers Association and became and Affiliate Member. Boy was I surprised to learn what members were being paid for an hour talk!
Why are you paid for as a speaker?
1) The knowledge you bring to the subject along with the cost (time and money) it took you to become an expert in the topic.
2) The time it takes to customize and create a talk or workshop.
3) The value the talk brings to an organization’s members or a firm’s employees.
4) Most speakers will promote the events it speaks at to their elist, on their blog, and through social networking.
And then there is the cost of time, meals, travel and hotels.
In the other hand, when an organization values it’s speakers, it pays them. If it doesn’t pay, for sure they can find a business to sponsor your talk. It can also pay some of the fee by offering in-kind payments.
Here are some true stories about situations I dealt with where I was not going to be paid to speak. Learn by my mistakes.
1) I was requested to submit a detailed proposal A.S.A.P. This was a lowly paid event. The organization never got back to me, although I called and emailed. I learned someone else was hired by reading a notice they posted online.
2) I was asked to speak in return for lunch. As a professional speaker, I can tell you that it’s not good to eat before a talk.
3) I was asked to speak at an event by a designee of a gigantic organization. The meeting is scheduled and each of you has to drive to the location. When I arrived at your /office,the other person decided to stay "home" and the meeting is held via speaker phone and a stranger is in the room with you. You learn that because your talk is not technical and because you live in the same state as the event, you won’t be paid.
4) I was often asked to create a new program but was asked to speak for free to an audience that is full of my ideal prospects.
5) I was asked to speak at a conference. Trade show tables are available over the 4 day event for a fee. Sponsorships are available for a fee. Registration fee for the event is paid by everyone who attends. A majority of the speakers are being paid, except those in a new "track" are asked to speak for an hour or so. For these unpaid speakers, you’ll provide them with free registration, a spot on your trade show table, their handouts in a CD, and a photo and short bio in literature. You plan to video or audio tape each speaker and not pay the speaker for the rights to that whatever you tape. Speakers are not allowed to sell from the stage. They can’t even mention their website. To make sure they comply with your rules, you provide a template for their materials, one that only promotes your company that that they must use and get approved prior to the event.
6) I was contacted to speak in return for some in-kind. I agreed to conduct local PR with newspapers and place the speakers information on your website with a link to their website. I called and emailed the conference organizer because I didn’t see my info on their website. No one returns the call or email. Finally, a week before the event I tracked down someone in the organization. Ends up that they haven’t lived up to their part of the agreement. You cancel. They get pissed!
7) A non-profit organization asked me to speak for free for 1 hour and the meeting is a 1 hours drive from the event. I requested in-kind payment and provided an extensive list of things the organization can choose from. Organization got pissed that I had the audacity to ask to speak and "be paid"!
8) Large company, in my niche, asked me to conduct a webinar. They were not going to pay me. Nearly 8 times they had me change the description of what I was going to speak about (meaning that I changed the PowerPoint presentation a few times.) Eventually the talk wasn’t something I was willing to do. I canceled. They had the head of the organization call me to tell me how unprofessional I was being.
8) I was asked to speak and part of my payment was that I could submit future speaking engagements to their calendar. After the talk, I sent a notice for their site. The engagement didn’t appear and I called the person I was working with. I received an email back stating that their rule is that only members can submit events.
Did all the above really happen? YES! This and more.
But…thank goodness, for speakers sakes, that there ARE organizations and companies who treat speakers with the respect they deserve! Honestly, when you start seeing someone not treating you with the respect you deserve, someone who is really too big for their britches — run!
©2007 Maria Marsala, Strategic Business Coach, Speaker and former Wall Street Trader at Elevating Your Business.