Hello, Lucky Bee!
Today we’re talking about whether you should speak for free at other people’s events. Is it worth it or should it be an automatic NO?
I’ve put together an easy process for you to decide if the opportunity is worth it, and what you should consider before you say yes.
Prefer to listen? Press play below.
I get asked to speak for free all the time.
Not only at local events in my hometown or in other states, but at events in different countries across the other side of the planet.
I’ve often gone back to people and said, “Great! What’s your budget?” They say, “Oh, we just thought you’d like to come and speak for free. You can talk about your book.”
I’m like, “Great. Eighteen hours on a plane. That would be fantastic. Thank you.” (HEAVY SARCASM).
But it’s not one of those things you always have to say either yes or no to.
I think it’s useful to look at a few different considerations, then make a powerful decision based on whether it’s going to be worth it for you.
What is the TRUE cost for you?
What are the real costs for you to speak at the event?
Back when I didn’t have kids, and back when I wasn’t making a huge amount in my business, the only cost I thought about was the travel cost. Plus, I was going to the conferences anyway, so it wasn’t that big a deal.
I thought, “If they pay for my flight, I’m there,” not realizing there are lots of other costs involved.
There have been a few times I’ve paid for my own travel or accommodation, plus there are things like parking, petrol, and food – and those incidentals like getting a bottle of water when you’re at the airport. That all adds up.
Now that I have kids, I have to factor in child care costs because we have a nanny and that costs money if she has to do additional hours. Or it has an emotional cost if you have to ask someone for help to look after your kids. Maybe your partner agrees to look after them but has to take holiday days or it takes time away from their business.
What about personal preparation costs?
For example, things like getting your nails and hair done. If I’m speaking at an event, I’m not going to turn up like I just rolled out of bed. I always get my hair and nails done, so I feel confident and put together and sometimes I get professional makeup done, depending on how big the event is.
You might get a new outfit or you might get your outfit dry-cleaned.
It all costs money. It’s not a cost you could charge someone for directly, but let’s face it, it’s a cost to YOU to be able to speak at an event, to feel good about yourself and confident enough to perform well.
Let’s talk about the time costs
There’s time away from your family, and your downtime. When I’m away, I miss out on valuable family time, but also because I’ve been away, I have to make up that time to my hubby or kids.
It might cut into your weekends if that’s the only time you spend with your family, or that’s the only time you get to relax.
What about the opportunity costs?
I don’t have much time at my desk to work on my business these days and I have to be really efficient.
Going to speak at somebody else’s event cuts into the time that I can work on my own business.
Speaking too much for other people’s events means that you might procrastinate creating your own income producing assets, because you’re using your creative energy on someone else’s event.
So – calculate the cost. ALL OF IT.
Once you have an idea of how much it really costs for you to be at an event, that’s going to help you decide whether or not it’s worth speaking for free.
Let’s talk about some other things to consider.
Who’s your audience and what’s it all about?
I used to get asked to speak at the most random freaking events ever.
I remember going to speak at a “Government Dept away” day. This was a group of men and women in their forties and fifties who all worked in government jobs.
Here’s me, Denise the “Lucky Bitch” in my blue caftan talking about manifesting. It was the wrong fit for them and for me.
They ended up enjoying it, but it wasn’t really my zone of genius. I did get paid for it, so the only reason I said yes was the money, not because it was my target market or something that I would enjoy.
I’ve spoken at universities for small fees – again, not really my target market.
Think about who you want to speak in front of and also how many people are going to be there.
Again, you can make a powerful choice about whether it’s worth speaking for free or low cost.
Is it your perfect target market? Are you allowed to speak about your products and services?
It might not be worth it for you to speak to a room of 20 people, but it might be worth it for you to speak to a room of 1000 people for free.
That might be totally worth it.
What’s in it for you?
Be really clear on this because a lot of event organizers, if they’re asking people to speak for free, think that the exposure is enough.
They say, “Well, you can expose your business to X amount of people.” My response to that is, “I can expose myself for free anytime I like.”
It’s easy to do this now. You can expose yourself – metaphorically – on Periscope or Facebook Live, or on your blog and you can actually reach a lot more people without leaving your house.
For example, do I have pants on today?
You’re never going to know because I’m in the comfort of my own home. I didn’t have to get on a plane to bring this information to you. I didn’t have to put on a bra.
Remember the fact that if you’re going to get up and speak to an audience, there has to be something in it for you. Call it bra tax.
3 valid reasons to speak at an event for free
1. You want to do it for fun and credibility
There are going to be a lot of people you know there – it will be fun to speak at the event because “everyone’s going.” Maybe there are really cool speakers on the line-up and it would be fun to hang out backstage with them.
I’ve done this a lot of times, and it was a blast! Again, it’s a conscious and deliberate decision that gives you value in return.
2. You had planned to go anyway
Maybe it’s an event that you’re already going to as a participant, and you think, “Why not? I’ll speak for free because I’m already going.”
3. It’s (your version of) Oprah!
Maybe it’s too good an opportunity to pass up and that’s totally fine.
For example, I’ve seen people write articles saying, “Oprah asked me to perform at her event for free and I’m not going to do it.”
Now that’s FINE – there’s no problem to charge Oprah, but it’s also okay to make a conscious choice for the life experience.
BTW – I would totally speak at an Oprah event for free!
Oprah, I’m ready!
I’ll get on a plane and I’ll put on a bra.
I’ll even put on pants!
I’ll be there
Again, that’s a powerful choice that you can make in the moment – is it something that you really want to go to? Some opportunities totally justify doing it for free.
The last thing I want to say is don’t forget that you can ask to be paid for speaking at an event.
Obviously, today’s topic was whether you should speak for free, so we haven’t talked about getting paid for it – that’s a whole different topic and I’ll write about it another time.
It’s a powerful decision you can make
You can say yes;
you can say no;
you can say not now,
you can say maybe,
you can say ask me again next year.
AND you can say, “Yeah, I’ll come. But you have to pay me for it.”
It’s totally up to you
Need some help saying NO?
Ok, so you’ve been asked to speak for free, what do you say next?!
Now, I actually have a free eBook full of scripts on how to have boundary conversations easily. Being asked to speak for free is just one of them.
For example, scripts about what you should say to clients who want a discount and what you should say to clients who turn up late for sessions – all those awkward conversations that are just rites of passage in business.
If you would like a copy of the free “Awkward Conversations Made Easy” eBook, go to www.LuckyBitch.com/awkward
There are so many easy, juicy, simple scripts for you to use when people ask you to do things that you might not want to do.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Have you been asked to speak for free? What did you say? Did you make a powerful decision? Yes, no, or otherwise?
Again, download the free ebook at: www.LuckyBitch.com/awkward
Did you miss last weeks post? Check it out here: How to Build a Personal Brand You Love