Don’t Sell Yourself & Other Conference Speakers Short

by | Nov 3, 2016 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

Recently, I received an email, inviting me to speak in 6 months’ time, at an international leadership conference in Europe about the Team DyNAmics© model which I created. The organisation were aware of the model and the positive impact it was having on team engagement, effectiveness and reducing costs, all of which linked perfectly with the theme of their conference.
The organisation had done their background research and knew of my reputation as a speaker, via a personal referral and had checked out my profile and recommendations via LinkedIn. I likewise, checked out their website, LinkedIn profile, recommendations and via Google, found details of their latest conferences, including the rates they charged delegates to attend.
I replied to their email, saying that I would be delighted to deliver a keynote speech and set out my terms and conditions for speaking for an hour, in front of 100 people, as noted in their initial email. My terms were simple, a fee equivalent to the price they were charging for 1 delegate to attend the 2 day conference, plus my out of pocket travel expenses. Not excessive, bearing in mind I would be blocking out 3 days of my diary, 2 for travel and the third a combination of prepping my presentation and delivering it on the day that I would speak.
Their response was that they did not pay speakers a fee, only out of pocket travel and subsistence expenses. They also said that by speaking, they would be giving me the opportunity to have exposure to potentially new clients. Finally, they said I would have the opportunity to “sell” my product and services after I had spoken.
As a speaker, I believe passionately, that my primary role is to inform, educate and share my knowledge and experience, providing practical tools and techniques with delegates, so that they can use the learning immediately to help them achieve greater success. Personally, I believe that all speakers should do this. If opportunities to work with new clients occurs, that is a bonus.
Whilst I do not have a problem with conferences who allow you to sell your latest book, training course, CD or model, what I do have a problem with, is those conferences who allow this but do so to leverage not paying the speaker a fee. After all, not every speaker has written a book etc. etc. and I therefore think this practice is unfair.
Anyway, to say that I was unhappy with their response was an understatement. They knew the value they would obtain from me, but in the same breath, did not truly value me. I knew that if I accepted, they would use my details and information to market their event, and bearing in mind that via social media, they would be aware that last two conferences that I had spoken at, bookings had doubled, I could almost guarantee that they would likewise see an increase in bookings and therefore their income. Even if they just had two more bookings, they would still be better off, even after paying me a fee.

Some conference organisers are often happy to pay to feed delegates’ stomachs but not to pay to feed their minds.

So, I declined their invitation, politely posing the question as to whether they would be personally prepared to work free for 3 days of the month, to benefit another organisation. I additional mentioned that, if a fee had been payable, I would have happily supported marketing their event via my many connections on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and my email database.
Two days later, I received a reply that they had reconsidered and were prepared to pay a fee and accepting my offer to market their conference via my social media connections. So the organisation and I had achieved a win-win result. I feel valued and will get paid, what I think is fair and reasonable, and they secure me as their keynote speaker and will no doubt get more bums on seats. Remember, all they need is 2 additional bookings to more than cover my fee and expenses. With a couple of questions on their booking form to find out if the booking is because of the value of the topic that I will be speaking on, or via my social networking marketing, they should have the evidence to prove if it has been a worthwhile investment for them.
So, in conclusion, don’t sell yourself short or undervalue your worth, as you not only lose out but you also make it difficult for other speakers, as the conference organisers may potentially use you as an example, so as not to pay others.
Finally, I would just like to state that the above only relates to conferences that charge delegates to attend. I am also a keen supporter of not for profit and charitable organisations, where I seek a different win-win situation, as whilst these charge delegates, it is usually a nominal fee, to cover costs and break even.
Q & As
Who am I and Ngagementworks?
Nick Fewings Ngagementworks Conference
I’m a former Change Director of Barclays PLC, a behavioural psychologist and have. I founded and am CEO of Ngagementworks, a learning and development company that helps many well-known brands succeed through developing their greatest asset, their PEOPLE.
I am also an award-winning conference speaker on behaviours, leadership, team effectiveness and engagement and creator of the Team DyNAmics© model of team engagement. (the link will take you to a short video explaining it).
You can contact me direct to discuss how I may be able to support your individual/team development objectives or about a conference that I may be able to help you by speaking at, via

I am on Twitter @Nick_Fewings and Ngagementworks also has a presence on Facebook and on Instagram

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