Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Love is all around


Exposure will kill you: Knowing your worth as a speaker and setting your fee


Meeting professionals are taught how to negotiate with speakers. Specifically, they are taught to talk about exposure: that idea that if you get on stage, and share valuable insights, you are properly compensated for it by the lectern time and audience exposure.
I grew up in Minnesota, I know exposure will kill you.
Speakers shouldn't speak for free, with the exception of a specific number of dates which they set aside for their own charity work.
I am not pretending to be an expert on this particular topic, but I do know that integrity is one of the most important things a speaker has, and it is a value that most event organizers share.
Unfortunately, the truth is that if you work for free for the event organizer, the next one will likely find out. 
How do you then go from free to getting paid thousands for an engagement?
What is a speaker worth? Only the speaker really knows, but if they work for free, what are they saying to themselves?
Shouldn’t they consider themselves worth more than the tablecloths, the open bar, the centerpieces, the AV?
After all, aren't the speakers the primary reason the audience is attending?
Each speaker should sit down and create a structured fee sheet for themselves.
It might have sections like what they would charge for profit and non-profit organizations, what the price would be to lead a workshop or a breakout session, what a half-day versus a full-day program would cost, their keynote fee, and even go into detail figuring out a per-head seminar value, with a maximum attendee number.
I cannot tell a speaker exactly how much they should set the rate to be, or how or what to quote an event organizer, but here is what I do: I will quote a total seminar fee up to 35 attendees (if they send 15 or 20 the fee is still the same for my time, knowledge, the show), with an additional fee per attendee over that number to a maximum of 100.  
I almost always suggest that learning in smaller groups (25-35) is better for the attendees, and the organization will get more out of doing 3 to 5 programs than trying to cram everyone into one room at one time. Win-Win.
If a speaker is going to do all of these types of programs they realistically ought to have different fee schedules: one for profit, one non-profit, one for keynotes, one for seminars.
Overseas travel might have a travel day built into the fee schedule.
Also, make sure you decide if  travel and expenses are billed or are inclusive in the fee.
There are good reasons for both.
What does the speaker expect in terms of transportation, AV, meals, hotel? These are all central to the contract, and sometimes to the negotiation.
Talk about how the meeting professional saves expense money and time by contracting the same speaker to do two or three programs.
Everything should be in the contract.
I can't imagine a speaker staying for a three-day conference unless they are being paid for all three days, or the rare case where they are just in love with the event.
I can't imagine a speaker staying for a three-day conference unless they are being paid for all three days, or the rare case where they are just in love with the event.
If you must move off the fee, talk about trade outs. What do you get in exchange that is of equal value? No, exposure or possible future bookings are not fair trade.
For example, I once waived my fee for a one-day seminar, 30 miles from my office, in exchange for ten round-trip airline tickets and a four-colour, full-page ad in the program for the largest indoor rodeo in the USA. That seemed to be full value.
Sales? Sure, if it is permitted and approved in advance.
Many meetings professionals have an education budget. They may buy a hundred or a thousand books to hand out as premiums and book the speaker for an autograph session. That is an example of win-win-win.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is making sure you are getting paid what you are worth.
Event organizers may extol the value of exposure and, while in some cases, it can be very good for your business, you must carefully make sure that you are getting enough out of the deal to make it worth your time and energy.