Speaking. I LOVE it. That’s why I charge for it

by Rosa Say on May 19, 2010

I want to keep loving it. All of it completely. The whole experience.

Speaking for an audience is joyful, and an incredible honor, and I want to keep it that way.

Photo Credit: In Concert by Martin Fisch on Flickr

So I’m wondering: How would a speaker (and a coach) write something like this for their speaking page, as a proactive and helpful statement?

I won’t speak for free by Mack Collier at The Viral Garden

Much shorter of course, and as tactfully as possible. Do you have any suggestions? It’s a delicate thing and no speaker wants to come off like some high and mighty snob! Any good examples you can point me to will be appreciated.

I’ve tried to be a bit more subtle about it, but the subtlety isn’t working.  (This was one example: “Free” never is, so don’t ask at Say “Alaka‘i.” I touched on it again  yesterday, though my post purpose was unrelated). Recessionary budgets have morphed into broken-record excuses which completely miss the point. Besides, I realize that it is unrealistic for me to expect that those who call me with their “please-speak-for-free” requests read my blog, and if I pursue this, something would have to go on my speaking page.

Having this link there has really helped with my experiences overall: How to Capture an Expert’s Value: 12 Tips …but it hasn’t solved the whole issue of how speaking for free is a bad idea more often than not… like when you drive for two hours to get to the engagement, or worse, fly and do the whole airport thing as usually must happen for me, and your host tells you they have made additions to their program, and you now have just ten minutes to present.

It can’t be coincidence that all my less-than-pleasant stories happen when I have done a presentation without charging for it: People simply do not value free nearly much as they value paying for something.

I have one more exception coming up. However Mack’s post has reminded me to be stronger in my resolve and put an end to my exceptions. It will be the last one for me. No more speaking for free, even though I truly LOVE the speaking itself. I weaken all of us who assess value to our Ho‘ohana work when I try to ‘be nice’ about it. I believe I give great value to my audiences, and if my host ever feels differently I am happy to give them a full refund of my fee.

So why am I writing about it here?

Two reasons: I value your opinion, and trust you’ll let me know if you think I should just leave it alone. I now have the conversation with those who inquire, but it can be an uncomfortable thing, and I suspect I would address it better proactively on that page, and in writing.

Second, to offer you my coaching on this as learning the value of Ho‘ohanohano: affording others dignity and respect, and in the process, conducting yourself with distinction.

Don’t be “that guy” and disrespect and devalue the work of other people, whether they speak or do something else for you. Be the polar opposite, and be the person who values them more. If you are a conference organizer, rethink your business model (there are good comments in Mack’s post in that regard).

I know that many of you who read Talking Story will never hire me, and that you read my blog for the complimentary coaching I happen to give as I write to think out loud as I do — and that’s okay, we both benefit. You’re my Ho‘ohana Community, and learning-together community is different from audience. Plus you ‘pay’ me in other ways, such as your subscribing when I ask, your comment conversation, buying my books and tweeting to share my articles.

Most important of all, you listen deeply, and you take action with what we talk about. We Ho‘ohana together, and you help me set a good example in living, working, managing, and leading with Aloha.

Since we’re likeminded in so many ways I don’t think I have to explain this very much, and I’m posting this here today to ask you to value what people do for you money-free. Stop for a moment, and think about what people give you. Think about what it takes for them to give it to you, and how you can appreciate them better. Value their giving more, so they feel that you DO understand their worth.

All work gets elevated when we who receive the good work of others assess it value. Something else kicks in like magic: The giver will try to give you way more than you have paid for.  I know I always do, and I’ll bet you do too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


To be fair to all the wonderful hosts out there who hire speakers, there are a bunch of reasons you can be asked to shorten a planned presentation, reasons out of their control. Other presenters will go overtime, a Q&A session heats up, air conditioning goes on the blink, you name it. I was once interrupted by a pair of mating mynah birds deciding the ballroom chandelier above the stage would suit their very loud courtship… what can you do but laugh as the flustered banquet captain stands on a chair and swats a broom at them? We’ve all run into those situations where you have to quickly edit what you’ve prepared, and you know what? Shorter can be way, way better for both you and your audience, as long as you have still delivered.

Coincidentally saw this at Presentation Zen yesterday too, where Garr Reynolds offers his application of Simon Sinek’s golden circle of communication: Starting presentations from why. This technique, of communicating 1–Why before 2–How or 3–What, is a great way to coach yourself in the wings before you present in whatever time you have been given.

Second, here is another post from Mack Collier: The introvert’s guide to speaking. You may never want to be someone who speaks as a professional presenter, however all Alaka‘i Managers will speak to teams or groups in some form —learning to do so is essential in your skillset— and Mack shares more of his experience, and how he went from fearing it to loving it.

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