Have you ever heard this from a meeting planner, “We don’t pay speakers”? AND then they also expect you to pay for your own travel to the event and maybe even pay to attend the event! How can speaking possibly increase your business and income, then?
Consider working with a sponsor. It’s a multi billion dollar industry. There are people who work for companies whose job it is to find innovative ways to promote their offers, and speakers are one powerful way to do that. You just negotiate a win-win agreement with them and then you can bypass the meeting planner in terms of fee.
In the very beginning, all speakers start out speaking for free. It’s like being an apprentice or practicing at an open mic. Everyone needs to do it in the beginning, to work out the glitches; and see what works with an actual audience and what bombs. But any speaker who’s made the effort to offer value to an audience, should be able to graduate to either paid speaking or an opportunity to promote their products and services while speaking. That way all your efforts and years of training pay you back. Don’t fall into the trap of continually speaking for free with no return.
Anyone who speaks knows how much time, energy and money goes into the researching, writing, and marketing of a professional public speaking career. If you’ve worked hard, you delivered great value for an audience, then you deserve compensation. A happy audience makes the meeting planner look great.
Speakers are the heart and soul of a meeting and they need to be compensated
One of the main reasons that meeting planners say they can’t pay good speakers, is often because they don’t know how to build their budgets through sponsors. In those cases, it behooves you to go directly to the sponsor. In the past, the hardest part about getting sponsorship was the lack of a central place where sponsors and speakers can connect. The good news is there is now a service called “Speaker Sponsor” to help you do that. Sponsors go there to find speakers that specifically pertain to their sponsorship initiatives. So, check it out and see if it makes sense to list yourself there.
How do I get a sponsor to cover my fee?
Companies will sponsor your speaking fee if it makes sense for them to be associated with your message. Here are the steps:
- Think of what kinds of groups would want to be associated with your message. For example, one speaker I worked with helps business owners sell their business. Wealth management companies have sponsored his talk. Another speaker has a decluttering business and so a chain of thrift stores sponsored her talk. A third speaker is a writer of family histories and got an online genealogy service to sponsor her talks. I often do entertaining keynote speeches on how to create a culture of fun and at work. Incentive travel companies have sponsored several of my talks. Because, one of the ways you can create more fun and recognition in your company is to send them on a trip together. Think of any company that needs exposure to your target audience. Make a big, long list. Then…
- Go online and research your top 3 choices. Find someone to contact in the public relations department. Often meeting planners have called me to say they want me to speak, but they have to wait until a sponsor comes in to cover my fee. If I go in and help close the sponsorship deal, it’s a win-win-win. If you have any background in getting sponsors for events use this to your favour— even if they are just covering part of your fee, it it can make a difference to the meeting planner choosing you over another speaker. Your topic doesn’t have to directly relate to their product or service. If you are creating a positive, uplifting experience for your audience, people will associate the good feeling with the sponsor.
- Create a pitch to the PR department. Think through what you want to say in terms of how to make it a win-win. Try to figure out what they need and decide what you need to make it work.
- Once you get them on the phone, ask lots of questions and listen first to see what kinds of initiatives they are working on. Then, fit your pitch into their marketing initiatives. Be open to negotiating the offer to make it work for them.
- Create a sponsor page on your site. Some speakers go so far as to create a page on their website for meeting planners to find, contact and secure sponsors to cover their fee. The more ways you can help the meeting planner win, the more likely they will want to work with you and not just once but many times over.
If you’d like more tips and tools for getting paid to speak at events, check out this free video tutorial and worksheet entitled “How to Get Lucrative Speaking Engagements“.