Because I make part of my living as a speaker, I get e-mails often asking "would you be interested in speaking at our event?" and I can tell you right now that the answer is always "yes, as long as we can work out the details."
You see, I've got a permanent case of travel wanderlust mixed with the urge to meet, talk to and motivate as many people in the world as I can before my time is up. That means there is not a location, group or organization that I don't want the opportunity to take the stage in front of. The fact that I always tailor my talk to the group I'm in front of means that I can do this and look forward to it.
But, it amazes me how hard it is to work out the details with organizations no matter how big or small they are, so I'm hoping to make it a bit easier by laying out some of the basics that need to be taken care of in order for me to speak at your event (and hopefully not make that face above).
Cover My Travel Costs
If you are charging for your event, than you must cover my travel expenses to be part of it. If you do not have the budget for this, then you really should focus on local speakers or those that work for companies who will foot their travel bill. This is not negotiable for me and why I put it first. I'll travel anywhere in the world, but you've got to get me there and give me a room to sleep in while there. This is pretty standard and really shouldn't come as a shock to any event organizer.
I'm working with an event right now that wanted me to bring some other speakers to the event and when I was told they would not be able to cover their travel I politely explained to them that they just cut out my first ten or more choices because of this one decision. They were shocked. Don't be. Figure these costs into your budget. This is a deal breaker for me unless you happen to be TED, Poptech or some other conference that I'd kill to be in front of.
Pay My Speakers Fee
I don't work for a big company and thus my time is money to me. I make part of my living from speaking and yes I will charge to speak at your event. But, I have different rates depending on the type of event or organization and I also am very open to discussing this because I've found a million creative ways to make this work or offset it.
But, with that being said, assuming you are going to get a keynote speaker for free is a silly assumption. Especially from anyone who has been doing it a while. Quality costs, so don't just assume you can get everything for free. And, before someone asks, I do still speak for free quite often, but anytime I do this I take away from a possible paid engagement. I've had this happen where I had to pass on a paid gig because I already had a free one on my calendar and that hurts.
Want to know a trick? Find a business to become a "keynote sponsor" to cover the costs. Win-win all around.
Don't Ask For My Slides
I'm constantly tweaking my presentations and except for my recent Content Rules book tour, no two are ever the same. I've been known to add slides up to the moment I take the stage to make it as fresh and relavent as possible. If you ask for my slides months before the actual presentation I am going to say no because technology and our space changes too rapidly for that. Plus, why would you want a two month old presentation?
Also, realize that my slides without my voice are not very helpful. They are not stuffed with clip art and bullet points, so making handouts of them does not make sense and honestly is a waste of paper and your money. Please double think before you insist your audience requires this because I doubt they do. Plus, I upload many of them to my slideshare profile for all to have.
Allow Me to Attend the Event
This one is usually a given, but I like to actually check out the event I'm speaking at rather then flying in, speaking and turning right around and flying out. Now, this may sound shocking to you, but I promise that I've had more than one event offer me a discounted ticket for their event rather than just giving me one. Thankfully this is not the norm, but it makes no sense. Every speaker at any event should have a free pass to the rest of the conference if they want to see what is going on.
The moral of this story is that I'm sure I'm not the only speaker who wants to get the basics covered. I love speaking in front of an audience of every size and I'm willing to make every effort to make it work within your parameters, but at the same time you have to respect my time and desire to keep a roof over my kids heads at the same time.
I don't believe any of these details are that demanding, but because I've had to pass on many events I know not everyone agrees.
I'd love to hear from other speakers out there as well as event organizers to know if I'm off base or not. I know in my heart I'm not, but I still want to hear what other people in the industry think.
Have an event you need a dynamic speaker for? Drop me an e-mail and let's make it happen.
Photo Credit: WayneNH