Guest Post – Paying for Service

On Tuesday you had an indignant article about not paying musicians who might be asked to play for events ? in this case, Fairfax.

This is a very common experience for those of us who speak at events, whether as keynote speakers, workshop facilitators, or topic experts.? We usually get a call from a conference organising company asking if we would like to speak at xxxxx.? I enthusiastically say I would be delighted to do that, what, when and how much?

The response on the other end of the line is usually as follows:

?Our guest speakers usually are happy to do it for free, for experience?.

That is downright insulting.? I speak for a living?and have done so for many decades.? Furthermore, I tailor my presentation to fit the organisation and that takes time and energy and a high level of expertise.? Then I have to travel to the venue and travel to and from may take up to two days there and back.

They might pay for the travel costs, but not of course for the travel time.? Or the accommodation. ??

Or they ask you to do a workshop, and will pay a small amount for that, but ask you to throw in a motivational speech for free ? the next day.

Sometimes they say they are using all their speaking budget for the keynote speaker and we will have the privilege of listening to them for free as we will get free entry to the conference anyway instead of a fee.? But I wasn?t going anyway.

And I absolutely know that the event managers are charging the organisation for the speakers, and it just goes straight to their bottom line, not to the speakers.? To me that is dishonest.

Then we come to the really insulting and infuriating requests.

I had done a workshop for a Peak Body, for a fee and travel costs.? All fair enough.? But then came the kicker. I was rung by the secretary for the women?s division of the same organisation asking me to go to Wellington to deliver a motivational keynote speech at their gathering.? I accepted with pleasure and explained that we would need to negotiate my fee, travel and accommodation expenses.? A silence from the other end of the phone before she said ?but women usually do these for free, to support fellow women professionals. That they liked to help other women grow and develop?

I spluttered and pointed out that speaking was how I earned a living, that her women members were extremely highly paid, and could afford to pay me a proper fee for service.? That it wasn?t my professional organisation, and I had no loyalty to it.? And that their attitude was what kept women poor and disadvantaged.

They didn?t pay and I didn?t go.


Frances Denz