Branding Speaker, Trainer, and Coach

You get paid for that? 5 Rules on Why Speakers Get Paid

Liz Goodgold Speaker

Sometimes it’s hard for folks to understand the concept of speaking fees. Even yesterday Hillary Clinton defended her high speaking fees to Diane Sawyer.

BUT, I’m even more frustrated with the audacity of Fortune 500 companies asking me to speak for free! Yes, speaking is glorious and sometimes glamorous, but it’s also hard work and virtually all of us, put in the “hard yards” of training. And, as a result, we expect to get paid.

So, let me get on my soap box and explain the rules of the speaking road:

  1. “Exposure” is NOT a Replacement for our Fee!  – Just as I’m sure your web designer doesn’t create your web site just for the opportunity for thousands of folks to see it, neither do we! We don’t speak for the exposure. As I’ve said, if I had any more exposure, I’d be a flasher!
  2. We Don’t Need The Practice – Professional speakers practice away from your audience; we show up ready to deliver a well-polished, outstanding talk, not a rehearsal. If you’re not taking on a mammoth project just for the “practice,” neither are we!
  3. We are Professionals – All of us speakers hone our craft, stay current with technology, follow the news, and make our jokes seem unrehearsed. In fact, at the end of this month, the National Speaker Association is hosting its convention in my fair city of San Diego. Unlike other associations, you don’t simply join this group, but earn it through demonstrating (through tax returns!) that you truly make your living through speaking.
  4. We Offer “Free Tastes” of Our Abilities – Whether through short talks, You Tube Videos, radio interviews, or Google Hangouts, many speakers provide samples of their abilities. Let me be clear: there is a BIG difference between a 20-minute talk and a 2-hour workshop.
  5. Fees Vary – Depending upon the audience, geography, and timing, the price is different. Think of speaking like airfare; it is often dynamic pricing that change with the circumstances. Contact me about your speaking needs.

If you’re looking for help entering the realm of speaking, please see my coaching options here:

How to Speak Gooder

Fire Starter Speaker Bootcamp

Whew! I am now off my soapbox and we now return to our regularly scheduled blogs and programming.


  1. Very true, Liz! I think professional speakers are getting weary of the free speaking for exposure thing.

    • I will employ the 20 minute/20 mile radius rule if it is the right audience, but that’s it. Custom-created talks longer than than require a speaking fee.

  2. Oh, yes! Gotta love the “free exposure”. If only that paid the bills! 🙂

  3. Whoa! I’ve heard from designers, musicians, and even DJ’s who get the same requests: that they should perform for the sheer “exposure.” Ha!

    If you don’t work for free, either do I.

  4. Right on Lady—exposure is a bit overdone! Love this piece. As a speaker myself I put hours into learning about the group, tailoring a message, creating a handout, rehearsing and much more We are professionals that deliver value just like you Liz and deserve to be paid!

  5. Amen, Barbara!

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