free call for speakers

Any speaker worth their salt should never speak for free.

What many people (including many meeting organizers) don’t understand is that even though a speaker is “only speaking for an hour”, in reality, there are several days of prep, travel, and other efforts expended to produce a good presentation. You wouldn’t ask another professional to work 3 days for free, but people ask speakers to do it all the time.

Speakers should also never say never. I actually will speak for free at things like barcamps or local non-profit and professional meetings because there’s low travel investment and immense value in it for me. That value comes from the opportunity to practice new material in front of a real audience or to help out a group that needs it.

Even when I don’t speak for free, I offer a ridiculously cheap speaking fee to groups like AdFed / AAF chapters, AMA, SMEI, or other similar groups because I want to be in front of those people as those people hire marketing speakers for seminars, conferences, trade shows, and other corporate events. But even with those, I still have a travel reimbursement in the contract.

And, of course, my offer still stands to speak at TED.

But a call for speakers came in my email this morning that I found incredibly amazing and somewhat funny…

Call for Speaker on Negotiating
{redacted} is looking for a speaker for the April 14th lunchtime event on negotiating. You must be willing to donate your time and travel. The RFP can be found here: {redacted}

A few points worth mentioning:

  • They want you to fill out an RFP to speak for free and not get travel reimbursement? (I looked at the RFP. It would take at least 30 minutes to fill out properly.)
  • They’re looking for a speaker who supposedly knows how to negotiate. The winner of the RFP should be the speaker who negotiates a fee and travel reimbursement from them!

In the end, all meeting planners should remember that you get what you pay for. And speakers should remember that you’re worth what you’re paid.

1 thought on “free call for speakers

  1. Crystal Washington

    Love this post Chris. I have also received similar free speaking requests for events that would not be of benefit for me to tithe into. It goes to show how many people do not understand that all business transactions should be mutually beneficial. Speaking for free in front of a group that hires speakers is beneficial to both parties. Speaking to “try out” material is also mutually beneficial. Spending money on travel and housing to speak for free to a group that will never hire you or create more speaking opportunities is unwise. Great insight!

Comments are closed.