When reducing the speaking fee? Increase the commitment!

By: Jim Cathcart
Posted: 03/22/2008

What if someone wants a freebie or reduced fee?
Though rare, there are occasions where a reduced fee is desirable to both the bureau and the speaker. The trouble is; when clients pay little or nothing for a speaker, they place little or no value on what they have received. The speaker is often treated as an unimportant player in the overall meeting. Conversely, when they pay a large fee, they treat the speaker as if he or she were royalty.When reducing the fee - increase the commitment. Treat it every bit as professionally as if it were the highest fee date you had ever booked. Assure that a contract is signed specifying details and confirming audio visuals, accommodations, travel, cancellation agreement, etc. State the value of the presentation at retail and then show the reduction with a note like “courtesy discount” or whatever the reason may be.

What If The Client Wants An Extra Speech Without Additional Fees?

Ask any person: “If you work several hours for your employer how many of those hours do you expect to be paid for?” They'll say “All of them!” and rightly so.

A speech is not just words. If it were, an article or a phone call would do the job and we could all stay at home. A speech is a targeted performance. It is the delivery of not only information but also of impact on the listeners. Good information delivered poorly is wasted. Each performance takes special preparation, enormous creative energy and added effort from the speaker.

Most speakers have a speech fee, half day fee, and full day fee. The speech fee typically includes all the costs of research, preparation, travel time, etc. A second speech to the same audience at the same location requires less preparation, no extra travel time and minimal added research. Half day fees reflect that. They are often dramatically less than two keynote speech fees. Full day fees are similar, set with the initial hour carrying the main weight. Ask any person -- if you work several hours for your employer how many of those hours do you expect to be paid for? They'll say "All of them!" and rightly so.

So, tell your clients that an extra speech requires an extra fee. Barter is sometimes worth considering too, but all of these should be considered as retail against retail; the full value of the presentation versus the full retail value of the compensation. Then, figure out an appropriate way for the bureau to receive its additional compensation equivalent to their portion of the speaker's compensation. But be flexible, after all, these are on top of an already-booked speech.


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