As a consultant who spends a great deal of time delivering presentations, both online and face-to-face, I am faced with the tricky decision of knowing whether or not to accept invitations to speak for free. If you are an academic, or an employee of an organisation that’s happy to sponsor you speaking externally, then the issue doesn’t arise; but for someone who is self-employed, the time required to prepare for, travel to and then deliver a presentation for free is all unpaid – you may not even get your expenses paid.
In time, I have developed my own personal guidelines:
- If the event is run by a vendor or is in-company, then I expect a fee. If there is a requirement for me to develop a customised presentation, then I expect an even bigger fee.
- If the event is open to the public but there is likely to be only a small audience or an audience to whom I am unlikely to be able to offer consulting services, then I expect a fee. If not, then the event must be in an exotic location (so no good for webinars) and all expenses must be paid!
- If the event is public and there will be a good-sized audience of reasonable prospects, then I will speak for nothing in order to obtain the exposure. However, I will decide what I present and generally this will be a presentation I’ve delivered several times before.
So those are my rules, but everyone has to think this through for themselves. If you need some help in this, you could do no better than to get hold of Lee Salz’s book Stop Speaking for Free. He’s got a short video introducing his ideas on YouTube.