Tips to Stop Using the “F Word”


Have you ever been asked by a local association to do a FREE speaking gig? Of course you have. Many times associations offer that powerful and elusive catnip to speakers – EXPOSURE!

Yeah… that was sarcasm – Exposure can be bad for your health. Speaking for associations can be very time consuming and costly; but there is a way to get a little coin in your pocket while giving back to your community, getting some practice in, and solidifying your reputation as an expert.

3 Tips on How to Say No to Speaking for Free

Tip 1:  Increase the fee per person at an event. Instead of speaking for free like everyone else that is selling something, practicing, or is an amateur; tell the meeting planner that you will accept the gig only if they will increase the dollar amount of the ticket cost to come to the event. The increase fee is yours to keep.

Example: If a meeting normally costs attendees $45, then they should raise the rate $10 or $15 per person. At a meeting with 100 attendees, you would make $1,000 to $1,500. You won’t need a Brinks truck to take home the cash, but you also got something for your work.

Tip 2: Include a product as the reason for the cost increase. Sometimes having your presence is not enough to really get the extra dollars from attendees. Raise the price enough that it can include a product like your book, CD or DVD.

Example: If the meeting normally costs attendees $45, then ask them to raise the ticket price by $20 per person. If you are self-published, you likely have a garage filled with product at about $5 each, which means you just earned $15 per person.

Note: Audio CDs can usually be reproduced for about $1. Throw in the audio CD for $20, and sell your books at the back of the room to really increase your profits.

3 Objections

Objection 1: Our members can’t afford it. We are a non-profit organization.

Answer: If your members can’t afford an extra $12, then what makes me think they are going to be in a position to make a hiring decision for me in the future? Your audience might not be the right audience for me. Note: You just saved yourself from wasting time. This is NOT your target market.

Objection 2: Our audience won’t pay extra just for someone to come out. We have a strict policy of not paying speakers!

Answer: Great! Let’s add $20 to the ticket price and everyone will get a copy of my book (CD, DVD, etc.), then they can walk away with something in hand. They recognize that I am a professional, and they have a parting gift.

Objection 3: Other speakers present for free.

Answer: This is my profession, and I am in an association of professionals. I am not selling anything from the platform, and while I do want to provide an amazing program for your audience, it is our policy to give back to associations while maintaining value integrity. Please understand that I cannot do that for free.

Local associations can be a great place to practice new material and create opportunities to speak at regional, national and international events. NSA member Lois Creamer of Book More Business has great tips on getting the most out of an association visit.

If you are really new to the business and want decent video, head over to your local community college and hire an AV student to capture your talk. The money you make from the event will more than cover the cost of hiring a student. Plus, their work is better than holding a phone in the back of the room, and you may have just given a future Steven Spielberg a job.

Dawnna St. Louis

Dawnna St. Louis

Dawnna St Louis is a forward-thinking game changer that promotes women in business. Drawing on lessons learned in the trenches as a homeless teenager and as a successful international C-Level executive, Dawnna’s programs delivers breakthroughs towards business success.
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis

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