WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Casting a reality check on real-world conundrums
Save the Day for Free or Charge a Fee?
You just finished speaking at a conference and overhear the meeting planner complaining to
another staff member that a speaker just called to cancel his breakout session the following day.
It’s a topic you can easily handle. Should you volunteer? Negotiate? What would you do?
I think it is appropriate to quote your standard fee. If the client says the other speaker’s fee is lower and that it’s not in the budget, you should make a goodwill gesture and agree to do it for the lesser fee. I would offer to do it for free only if the client was giving me a lot of work and I could expect more in the future. I would volunt I’d also inquire are volunteers,“eer to speak if the client paid the change fee for my airline ticket. about the other speaker’s fee. Note: Often, speakers who cancel not paid speakers.
I would ask if I could help and then
over-deliver. Don’t expect payment
for every good thing you do.
Volunteer . . . the good will is worth
far more than the negotiated fee.
Tell the meeting planner, “I understand you need a speaker. It’s a topic
I can handle easily and I can stay if
you need me.”
I’d wait for the client to approach
me. Speakers are the client’s guests
while onsite at the event. The client
should be comfortable talking about
the event without feeling that contractors are hovering to seize new
As a conference speaker, you are
obligated to help out as part of the
team charged with putting on a suc-
cessful meeting. (If you were a doc-
tor and someone in the audience was
having chest pains, what would you
do?) You should volunteer to cover
the breakout session and negotiate
to have incremental expenses reim-
bursed, such as an extra hotel night
and itinerary change fees. If the
client offers to compensate you,
ask for only incremental differences
in fees (“My fee schedule includes
a ‘keynote + breakout’ option”),
regardless of the other speaker’s fee.
If the client doesn’t offer to compen-
sate you, do it anyway. You’ll be a
hero and the client will give you
lots of work and referrals.
You should volunteer.
I love saving the day!