I receive requests to present at conferences at least once per week. I’ve got a great pedigree from speaking at conferences and large events and I work with large corporate clients on their social media strategy and online branding activities.
But most of the enquiries I receive want me to travel to the location and present for them for free. Take these recent requests for my time for example:
One organisation wanted me to speak for them at a social media strategy event. One of their corporate speakers had dropped out at the last minute and a week before the conference, they had no one to take their place. They had charged each delegate £495 to attend the strategy workshop, but because they sourced their speakers from Agencies and corporates, they would not pay any of their speaker fees. They reasoned that the great networking opportunity would be worth the investment in my time
Another event in London later this year, boasts some large corporate names. They are charging each delegate a fee of £500 for the day. They never pay their speakers a fee and they don’t usually pay any travelling expenses.
Each of these events have costs to bear for hosting the event so it’s understandable that they would have to charge a fee. They would have to pay the venue, the events team and the marketing team for their work around the event. For the event itself, a venue would normally charge about £50 – £100 per delegate for catering and use of the hotel room for the day.
Yes – you’ve done your sums correctly. Take away marketing and logistics and the company has turned a nice profit for each event they run.
And by speaking at their conference, I would have helped them with their revenue stream. At my own cost.
I’m happy to speak for free. I regularly talk to networking groups and non profits. I run workshops showing businesses how to use social media to their advantage. Non profit organisations will always pay a reduced fee and my travelling expenses. But I believe that this should be different for profit based organisations.
Of course, I’ve got a great opportunity to meet new businesses, and network. I’ve got a great opportunity to showcase my knowledge outside of this blog, and I can get to meet and network with other speakers.
But does this actually turn into revenue?
Customer opportunities have to be worked on. Relationships need to be made and built upon. Trust needs to be gained, and credibility established,
That’s hard to do in a 45 minute session on stage.
So when you want to hire a speaker to speak at your event, consider things from their perspective. The speaker has to spend time preparing for the presentation. They will have to research, and create the slide deck and interact with the organisers of the event.
They will need to spend their own money travelling to the event, and they will not be able to do any funded work whilst at the event.
If you’re planning to hold an event similar to the type of event that I’ve described above, then don’t be surprised if the ‘free’ speaker lets you down at the very last moment to deliver some funded work for a client.
A client who values their time – and is willing to pay for their knowledge and experience – which will ultimately add to the clients revenue stream and profit.
Think about that when you’re trying to get someone to do something for nothing.
You might just get what you pay for…
What do you think? Would you speak for free to a company that makes money out of your efforts? I’d love to know
Eileen is a social business consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.
Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.