Let's deal with the elephant in the room!
Periodically I get inquiries asking "Would you be interested in speaking at our event?" or "Would you put on a webinar for us?" and I can tell you right away that the answer is ALWAYS "Yes, as long as we can work out the details."
As my schedule permits, I really enjoy speaking to interesting people at interesting places. That means there is not a location or group that I don't want the opportunity to speak to. BUT, it amazes me how hard it is to work out the details with some groups -- no matter how big or small they are -- so I am hoping to make it a bit easier by laying out these basic boundaries that need to be taken care of in order for me to speak to your audience without creating any problems between us.
Cover My Travel Costs
If you invite me to visit your location, then you must cover my travel and accommodation expense. It's simple courtesy, but I'm always amazed that some folks think I will pay my own way to speak to them on the pretense that there might be some nebulous payback to me down the road. If you do not have the budget to pay my way, 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 that's why I put it first on this list. I will travel anywhere in the world, but you've got to get me there and give me a reasonably comfortable place to have some privacy and rest while there. This is pretty standard and really should not come as a shock to any event organizer. This really is a deal breaker for me.
Pay My Speaker Fee
My time is money to me. So yes, I will charge to speak at your event. HOWEVER, I have different rates or fee structures depending on the type of event or group. I'm also very open to discussing this because there are many ways to make this work or offset it. With that being said, assuming you are going to get a great speaker for free is a silly assumption. Especially from anyone who has been doing it for a while. Quality costs, so don't just assume you can get everything for free. And, yes, I DO still speak for free now and then, but it hurts when I have to pass on a paid engagement because I've already committed to a free one. Want to know a trick? Find a business to become a "Sponsor" and ask them to cover the costs. It's a win-win all the way around and I'll even give them some special attention or share a meal with them.
Don't Ask For My Materials
The world is always changing around us, so I am constantly tweaking my presentations and no two are ever quite the same. I've even made changes while on stage to make it as fresh and relevant as possible. In fact, I ALWAYS tailor my talks to my audience, which keeps it interesting for me too. It's never the same, and I'm never bored. I want to engage with audience members and get them thinking and don't want to let technology get in the way. Therefore I seldom use ANY technology during my talks. Many audience members make personal notes during the talk and that is fine (and even encouraged), but if you ask for handouts, I am going to say "no" because I really don't have any to give you ... AND any slides or handouts without my voice are not very helpful anyway.
Allow Me To Attend The Event
This one is usually a given, but if you have an associated event, I like to actually check out the venue and event I'm speaking at rather than flying in, speaking, turning right around and flying out. Now this may sound shocking to you, but some event organizers have offered a discounted ticket rather than just providing one. Thankfully, this is not the norm, but it makes no sense. Every speaker at every event should have a free pass to the rest of the event so they can see what is going on. I often use that opportunity to connect with people, collect relevant stories and personalize my talk to your group. It's also a great way for me to build new friends, which is something I enjoy a lot.
The BOTTOM LINE
The bottom line of this message is that I love speaking in front of an audience of every size and I'm willing to try make it work within your parameters, but at the same time you have to respect my time and desire to provide for my family. I don't believe any of these boundaries are very demanding, but because I've had to pass on many events, I know not everyone agrees. I'm okay with that, but this is what works for me. So, if you can live with these expectations and have an event that needs a dynamic and distinctive speaker, then send me a note or give me a call and let's make it happen.
Onward & Upward