You’re an in-demand industry specialist, entrepreneur, or local personality. You find yourself being invited to speak, and might even be actively building a steady side hustle.
But there might be something important missing from your toolkit: a Speaking Contract.
Speaking Contracts Are Often Overlooked. And They Shouldn’t Be.
Even the most business savvy people — who broker tightly structured contracts during the day — often forget to get a signed contract when they’re asked to speak.
Why? The dynamic tends to be a little bit different than normal your day-to-day deals. Maybe it’s a former colleague, or professor making a personal ask. Maybe you’re just not used to offering yourself as a product. Or maybe you just think it’s a bit unnecessary.
If you value your own time, however, a speaking contract is an absolute necessity. It’s key to make sure you’re compensated and have everything you need to make the event a success.
At the end of the day, it’s your personal brand on the line.
What a Speaking Contract Can Do for You
So what does a speaking contract do? Read on to find out.
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1.) It Locks in the Date and Place
You book your calendar, put time into a presentation, and sometimes even invest up front for travel fees. The last thing you want is your booking to change the date and/or place.
A speaking contract should protect you from these sorts of situations, especially when ample notice is provided.
Here are a few things to think through
- How much notice needs provided for an in-scope rescheduling?
- Is there a penalty fee for cancellation? How many days in advance of the event?
- Is there a rebooking fee for rescheduling?
At a bare minimum, your client should be on the hook for travel fees and expenses incurred for the original booking if something changes.
2.) It Sets the Duration
It’s important that both parties know the duration of the speaking engagement.
For you as the speaker, it’s one of the most fundamental attributes of your presentation. The last thing you want to happen is to arrive at the event to find out you have 30 minutes instead of the 60 minutes discussed.
3.) It Establishes Your Expectations and Requirements
Do you need a screen/projector for your presentation? An HDMI cable? A microphone? A tech person to get everything set up when you arrive?
It’s key to clearly communicate your needs up front. It mitigates mistakes and gives the organizer time to fulfill your requests.
It might also prompt the event organizer to reveal the finer details of the programming. Like needing your presentation in a PowerPoint format a week before the event so they can add it to a master deck. For you, maybe you exclusively use your own computer — and different presentation programs — so the inconvenience on your end might justify some additional cost.
For me, I like to get a few other things in writing too
No Competing Sessions
I’ve had a few bad experiences where events booked multiple sessions simultaneously without the attendance to justify it. This caused all of the sessions to suffer from cannibalized attendance, which felt like a total waste of time for us speakers.
Obviously if you’re speaking at a large conference, this isn’t a request you can feasibly make or expect them to fulfill, but they should have the numbers to make it feel worthwhile.
Someone to Introduce Me
I like to establish some credibility and background before I get started.
For my engagements, I require the event to have someone introduce me and read a supplied bio.
Accurate Information in Materials
There’s nothing worse than having your name misspelled, your title butchered, or some undesirable photo used for event materials. I require the event to use supplied information for use in official materials.
4.) It Makes the Payment Official and Enforceable
Just like any business engagement, you want to lock down the payment terms. The total sum, the extra expenses, the payment terms, where to cut the check to, and the late payment penalties.
More than your typical business dealing, however, you’ll find that speaking engagements can often have bartering included or be entirely based on bartering. For example: a booth, material advertisement, and/or conference tickets.
In any case, you want those clearly set in stone too.
And there you have it. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Here’s to better contracts and better speaking engagements,