You’ve heard of C.C. Chapman, right? He’s the guy that co-wrote Content Rules. It’s also worth mentioning that he speaks at a lot of events. The reason I mention him though, is because of that previous link. See, he wrote this great page about speaking at events. So, a lot of what follows is taken largely from that. I hate re-inventing the wheel, so instead, I adapted his principles here. But, I just wanted to start off giving credit where credit was due.

For what it’s worth, I do not make a living speaking at events. Far from it. It’s more of a fun little hobby of mine – so in that way, he and I are different. But as such, if you would be interested in having me speak at an event you’re having, feel free to contact me and let’s see what we can work out. I’m incredibly flexible, and love the chance to network and talk to new people in different fields. At the same time, that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily willing to empty my own pocket to be a part of your event. I wish I had that kind of disposable income, but I don’t.

So, in no particular order, here are my ground rules. All of these are up for negotiation, and will vary to what degree they are applied depending on the nature of the event.

On Travel Costs

If you are charging people to attend your event, I would appreciate it if you cover my travel expenses to be part of it. I agree with Chapman, that if you do not have the budget for this, then you really should focus getting speakers from your community or that have the means to pay for the travel through a business account or the like. This is negotiable for me, and partially dependent on how much I want to be there. But, if you want me to be a part of your event, don’t be surprised when I ask what you can do for travel expenses. I’ll travel anywhere in the world, and if you can get me there and give me a room to sleep in, odds are I’ll agree. If your event is international, however, I have to insist on this. This is pretty standard and really shouldn’t come as a shock to any event organizer.

On Speaker’s Fees

While time is money, I do enjoy getting to work with groups of people and share experiences and educate. As such, I don’t, generally, ask for a speaker’s fee for events open to the public. This is especially true if you’re already covering my travel expenses. When I do charge, I have different rates depending on what the event is, who’s putting it on, and if it’s for a closed or open group of attendees (i.e. a corporate event versus a conference). I am certainly willing to negotiate on this, and am happy to find a mutually beneficial arrangement, especially if you can offer me something I need. I’m all about the barter system.

To quote Chapman:

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… Want to know a trick? Find a business to become a “keynote sponsor” to cover the costs. Win-win all around.

The one situation where I can almost guarantee that I’ll ask you for a fee is if you are directly making money off my presentation. This is common with those doing things like webinars, learning sessions, workshops, etc. Don’t expect me to work for you for free.

On Slide Decks

I’m not sure I can stress this enough. I’m a picky speaker. I read constantly. As a result, I’m always thinking of additions, tweaks, and modifications to talks I give, even established ones that I’ve done repeatedly. Heck, the very nature of our industry changes so fast that relevant news might need to be added to a talk days or hours before it is to be given. I’m a very extemporaneous style speaker, so I tend to “wing it” quite a bit as well. That doesn’t mean I make stuff up, just that my talks tend to be very organic in nature. There have been days where I was still adding and changing slides fifteen minutes before going on stage. That’s just how I work. Accept it.

Again, I’m going to borrow directly from Chapman rather than rewrite:

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.

I’ll almost always make my slides available after a talk, and most of my release repertoire is available on my SlideShare account. Heck, I even license most of my work under a Creative Commons license, so you can take with it and do as you please.

On Attendance

If you’re going through the trouble of bringing me in to speak to your audience, offer to let me stay for the whole thing. One of the most important components to what I do is networking face-to-face. I don’t want to swoop in, speak, then run away. Hopefully this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway just to cover my bases. It’s important to me that you know I invest a lot of heart into what I do, and I want you to know that I value your audience’s time enough to want to stay around, schedule allowing (which it usually does).

Are We Good?

Hopefully you aren’t terrified of this. I just want to be honest and up front about speaking. And believe me, I’m very flexible and willing to find a good arrangement. If you want to talk to me about being a part of your event, then definitely reach out to me and let’s make awesome happen.