Should You Ever Speak at Events for Free?

Public speaking is a fantastic way to raise your brand visibility and establish credibility as an expert/thought leader in your field however every so often a debate will spark up on one of my social media timelines regarding speaking at events for free.  It usually stems from events organisers requesting that speakers speak at their events without being paid.

In this video I break down my perspective on speaking at events for free. Overall the aim should always be to get paid for your time and labour but as I discuss in the video there are some reasons why it’s not always something you should immediately decline.

I’ve received messages from organisations who have found my profile online and want me to speak but upon asking about fees and logistics I’ve been told that the event in and of itself is exposure for my brand which is counter-intuitive since I must already be quite “exposed” if the organiser has found me.  Now don’t get me wrong there are valid opportunities and times when you might decide that you want to speak at an event without being paid. For instance TED Talk do not pay speakers and many people would love to speak at a TED event.

I actually believe that it is perfectly reasonable to speak at an event for free if you want to but this comes down to a few factors:

  • The transparency and communications approach of the organiser – some organisers are honest and up front and present a compelling reason as to why it might be worth considering speaking for free. With this type of approach, when all the information presented to you properly it’s easier to assess whether an event is for you or now.
  • Your own specific strategy with regards to public speaking and personal brand visibility – what do you want to achieve through your public speaking engagements and what do you need to do to achieve your public speaking goals?
  • The value add of speaking at the event, for example reaching new audiences and spreading your message.
  • Charity or community group – there are organisations that genuinely do not have a big budget but their impact if important, it’s up to you to decide which causes you want to donate your time to
  • Practice – if you are new to pubic speaking or you’re trying a new style of public speaking using events as an opportunity to practice and build your confidence is great.

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