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Just Saying: A Professional Speaker's Guide to Presentations That Pay

I am a professional speaker. I love what I do. I am good at what I do. I will speak at events and even donate my talent and expertise often. HOWEVER, in the beginning, this became an issue when it was assumed that I would drop what I was doing to do a event for free. I hear the same song from many people just starting in the speaking arena. They say, "I still have transportation costs, overhead for my business, and several years invested in the research I have done to become an expert in my field. Just because I help out and show up to events does not mean that I have time or resources to work for free." 

I have heard your cries and want to give you some sage advice based on my experience and others that I have worked with...

If you need a service of any kind, you would pay for it would you not? Professional Speakers may not be doctors, attorneys or mechanics, but we still have bills and expenses. Would you go to work at your job if you didn't earn any money? Likely not for long. It is just not sustainable. Right?

Speakers and trainers spend many hours researching and refining hours and hours of information to present it in bite-sized pieces to audiences. The audience is benefiting from this knowledge and research that saves them time at the expense of the speaker. How much is your time worth? My average seems to be about one hour of research for every minute in a presentation. The good news is that many of these facts and figures are transferable, but there are still personal touches you re going to want to add to each presentation to engage the audience. Keep this in mind when logging your hours.

Here are some expectations to address when asked to speak at an event:

- How will the you be be compensated? If budgets are low, what exchange of value is taking place? Will there be marketing opportunities? Testimonials? Back-of-room sales?

- Are tailoring calls needed? How many? How long is each call? Can you dial in for a portion of the call or do they need to dial in for the whole duration?

- How are they expecting the speaker to get to the event? Is there airfare involved? Lodging? Car Rentals? Mileage? 

- Log the amount of time you spend on each presentation. This will help you to quantify the return on t he investment of your time if asked to do something similar down the road.

In the beginning, there will be more free gigs in order to grow your brand. Don't give up. But also, don't sell yourself short. Someone has to pay for those expenses. Take a look at the return on the investment of your time in order to see if this event is truly going to help you to move forward or if it is an act of service. How much is your time worth? If it is more than what you are charging, close the gap. 

Bonus tip: Know your overhead and have prices available off the top of your head so that you are comfortable with your rates. Your time is valuable!

Now that you have skills, the tools, and the direction... Get talking!

Renee Crews is CEO/Founder of Metamorphosis Communications Training. She specializes in soft skills training and is passionate about helping companies to increase revenue through improving customer service skills and interpersonal communication techniques. Metamorphosis is available for training sessions by calling: 708.945.5966   or e-mail:

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