When most people think of getting paid, they think about one thing… CASH! However, there are many other ways to get paid for speaking (and some of them might be even more valuable than cash… I know it sounds hard to believe, but it’s true!).
According to one Member Survey by the National Speakers Association, 81.1% of speakers worked for no fee at least once during the last year. Of those, 89.6% spoke for free between 1 and 10 times! A full 21% of the membership surveyed spoke for free between 5 and 10 times. Why do they do this? Because it’s great marketing! There’s just no better way to develop your reputation as a speaker than to be seen speaking. It makes perfect sense.
Anyone with experience in the field of professional speaking can tell you that the key to success in this industry is exposure. As you speak to more audiences, word of mouth starts to build faster and faster. Before you know it, event organizers will begin to call YOU!
Of course, great marketing material helps, but nothing beats great marketing material combined with the far-reaching word of mouth.
That’s where the pro-bono work comes in.
You are knowledgeable on the subject matter, you have gained the confidence to stand and speak in front of hundreds of people, and you finally put a good structure together to keep your audience interested throughout your speech. The problem that many speakers face is that when you are just starting, you can not demand the big bucks that more experienced professionals can.
So… there’s a balancing act you need to play. Paying expenses out of your pocket in order to gain experience does make sense in some situations, but there’s a way to minimize your risk. The objective is to turn any out-of-pocket expense into an investment.
We have put together a dozen tips to make sure that you are getting reimbursed for your speaking engagement in a way that will work for both you and the meeting planner. So read on — this could make a huge difference in your speaking career!
1. Ask for a professional quality video tape.
Perhaps the best way to sell yourself to a meeting planner who hasn’t seen you before is to let them see you in action.
Tell the planners that you do not require any money for your services, but you want them to have your engagement video taped at PROFESSIONAL QUALITY. Many organizations have the resources in-house to provide this to you. It’s low-cost for them and big-benefit to you. Hiring a professional yourself to record a presentation could run you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Perhaps the best way to sell yourself to a meeting planner who hasn’t seen you before is to let them see you in action. A videotape is the next best thing to being there.
Today, the recording can be downloaded on a computer and even sent via-email (for free) or burned on a CD (for pennies). You can add a streaming version to your website. So you might not be getting paid for a few hours of your service… but you definitely will be laying the foundation for growing your engagements in the future.
One important note: make sure you use a lapel mike when being videotaped, and do a test run with the person running the camera. There’s nothing that screams “amateur video” like a soundtrack that plays as if were recorded in an echo chamber.
2. Have them buy your product (i.e., book, CD, resource kit) instead.
Some organizations may not have the budget for speakers, but they have a “training” budget. In my experience in dealing with many different organizations and companies looking for speakers, I often find clients who do not have room in the budget for speakers who DO have various other budgets for the event that they are putting on.
The training budget allows the event planners to use money on any resources that can be used to help train the attendees. Companies, non-profits and various other organizations spend millions of dollars every year to train their employees or volunteers in their respective fields. That is MILLIONS of dollars floating round being spent on training costs, so why not offer training resources?
If you have a book, a resource kit, or any other learning tool that complements or enhances your speaking workshop or engagement, have the company or organization buy some from you. If you “speak for free” but sell thousands of dollars worth of books or kits, you can make the engagement worth your time.
If you do not have any books or kits, develop some for your presentation. Not only will it make everyone understand you and stay interested longer, it can also benefit you financially.
3. Request a testimonial on the organization’s letterhead.
Even the top-paid professional speakers will often donate their services in exchange for a testimonial that helps their portfolio. The more experienced you become, the more recognized and wanted you become for other engagements. What’s especially interesting is that an organization’s competitors want the same speakers. They don’t want to feel like they’re missing out.
It is always important that you get endorsements and testimonials. Offer to speak at a venue for free under the condition that if the planner is satisfied with your presentation, they will write a testimonial for you. And be very clear that you don’t expect anything if they aren’t thrilled.
Think about this for a minute: how much does a meeting planner really expect from a free speaker? Chances are they are expecting a lot less than you’ll be delivering. So it’s likely that even if your presentation doesn’t knock their socks off, the planner will feel obligated to put a few kind words about you in writing.
Testimonials are a great way to convince others that you have performed well in the past and will perform well for future engagements. Especially if the organization or company is a reputable and well-known, ask to have the testimonial printed with the organization’s letterhead. You can include copies of your best letters in your media kit. Use selected portions of other testimonials on your website and in other promotional materials.
Having a reputable entity backing you up increases the value given to the opinion. When other people say you’re good, it means about 2000% more than you saying you’re great.
4. Ask for a write-up in the organization’s newsletter.
Almost every type of organization – including businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, religious congregations, and others – sends out newsletters to keep people involved and interested in what is going on. Whether it’s employees, customers, or an organization’s members who read it, you can get some really nice exposure, and it’s a good way to reach others who might also be looking for speakers.
If you speak for one of these organizations, ask to be included in their newsletter. Preferably, they will include an article you write, with your byline and contact information at the end. At a minimum, ask for them to include a feature about you, and the talk you will be doing (or have already done).
You would be surprised at how vast some mailing lists are and how many people read the articles in them. This is a great way to spread your name and your mission, and could lead to more engagements and publicity for you in the future… and let’s face it: in the professional speaking industry, publicity is imperative.
You never know who the newsletter will reach. One of the readers may need you someday, and realize it just as they’re clearing out old papers from their desk in two years.
BONUS TIP: Ask to also be included in an online version of the newsletter. An online version has real staying power. Most popular search engines will eventually pick up any online posting, which means that web surfers will be finding your write-up for years to come.
(Part 2… coming next week!)
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BRYAN CAPLOVITZ is the founder and creator of SpeakerMatch. SpeakerMatch makes it easy to find free and low-fee speaking engagements. It is the only online source of current, available speaking opportunities for emerging professional speakers. Our proprietary software will match your unique skills with the needs of meeting planners and notify you instantly. We provide HOT leads, from organizations who are actively seeking speakers now.
For more information, visit http://www.speakermatch.com/speaker, or call us at 1-866-372-8768.
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