When should I get paid to speak?

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21st July, 2022 No Comments

The majority of fintech industry events don’t actively pay for people to speak and contribute.

Often, being invited to speak, or securing a place after pitching yourself to take part, is done on the assumption that the exposure you get (and the chance to share your thoughts with an esteemed audience) is enough.

This isn’t a problem in itself, these events are still hugely valuable without being profitable for speakers. In fact, thinking of these opportunities as simply an additional income stream is a bit short-termist.

Here’s a few things you will gain from speaking for free at an event

  • A significant platform to share your story and expertise to the industry
  • A fantastic networking opportunity to meet and speak to smart, interesting people
  • The chance to develop your public speaking experience
  • Great images for your personal brand (it might sound shallow, but professional photos taken while speaking at an event present a lot of gravitas for platforms like LinkedIn)
  • *A free ticket! (not to be sniffed at, with some of the major events charging in the thousands to attend)

But when should you be getting paid?

Some event organisers will ask people to speak and work for free, when their experience, and the nature of the event, warrants compensation. Here’s a few things to watch out for:

  • Would you need to put in significant time and effort to prepare what has been asked of you (e.g a tailored program for a company away day)
  • Will you, your name or your brand, be a significant draw for this event which they plan to make profit from (e.g you’re the headline speaker for a ticketed dinner and talk)
  • Crucially, are other speakers taking part getting paid? Or have other speakers been paid for similar work in the past?

Being paid to speak at events is usually something that happens after years (read: decades) of experience. If you’re earlier on in your career, it’s crucial you don’t turn down brilliant opportunities that offer so much value simply because you won’t be getting paid.

However, you shouldn’t take on any opportunity that asks you to essentially work for free. Where the demand to reward ratio feels off, remember the value of your expertise and question the organisers.

If you’re in any doubt, ask. You need to know if it’s an option so you’re not leaving money on the table.

Be warned:

There are some events out there that want to charge you to speak. The business model is essentially selling you advertising space at an event, rather than positioning you as a thought leader.

While everyone’s experience and expectations are different, we’d recommend to steer clear of these ‘opportunities”. Not only is there the obvious cost at your expense (which you simply don’t need to shell out to get exposure). But the opportunity is likely to be unchallenging, and the event less well attended. After all, would you pay, and take time out of your day to listen to sales pitches all day? Unlikely.

Want to read more?

Aisha Blake is a Senior Developer Relations Engineer. Based in the US, but with universal pearls of wisdom, you can read some great example wording when asking about compensation on her blog.

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