How To Decide If You Should Speak For Free

What do you do if you get asked to do a free talk?

Should you say yes or no?

The answer isn’t actually that straight forward.

On the one hand, you should avoid speaking for free, because as a speaker the product you’re selling is you and your talk. So if you want to make money, you need to get paid to speak.

On the other hand, a free talk can generate new, bigger opportunities.

So, what should you do?

It all depends on your strategic objectives.

What do I mean by strategic objectives?

When it comes to speaking, I define strategic objectives as a list of desired outcomes of a talk.

You can have an overall list of strategic objectives, and you can have mini-list for each talk.

I ran an exercise to help my group discover their own strategic objectives at my latest Business Freedom Speaking Academy, and here were some that came up:

  • Travel
  • Networking
  • Entertain
  • Get rebooked
  • Build email list
  • Have fun
  • Collaboration
  • Get an agent for a book deal

One strategic objective can be to get paid. I hope this is one of your objectives. If this is your only strategic objective however, a free talk won’t align with what you want to accomplish.

There are several strategic objectives that will make a free talk worth it. Here are some of them:

  1. Connecting with a key person that can open more significant opportunities
  2. Open up opportunities in a new country
  3. Get media coverage
  4. Get featured in articles, blogs, and podcasts
  5. Get video and photos of you on a stage with an audience (that you can use in a demo reel, on your website or marketing materials)
  6. Contribution to a cause
  7. Create buzz on social media

If you decide that doing a free talk aligns with enough of your strategic objectives, here’s something I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you do; Send them an invoice with your standard speaking fee and credit the invoice with a one-time 100% discount.

Yes, the invoice is zero.

You might be thinking; Why should I do that?

The reason why you should this is to show them how much your usual speaking fee is and that it clearly states that this is a one-time discount.

If you do a great job, it’s highly likely that they want to book you again. You are now in a much better position to negotiate a better deal.

Next time you’re considering a talk, decide if it aligns with enough of your strategic objectives, and ALWAYS send an invoice — even if you’re speaking for free!