by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel
You may be a fantastic writer—author of all sorts of books and blogs and articles. But when your readers begin to invite you to speak, it’s important to make sure you have a whole new set of skills to ensure that your speaking events run smoothly.
I love to encourage writers and speakers. And one of the key ingredients to having a successful speaking career is making sure all details have been clearly communicated between you and the event organizers.
Believe me, this will prevent all kinds of heartache.
I cannot even begin to tell you the stories I have heard from speakers who expected one thing and were shocked when it never happened. (By the way, I hear just as many stories from event organizers who had certain unmet expectations from their guest speaker.)
To avoid such misunderstandings I learned many years ago that a mandatory “Speakers Contract” was my best tool for covering the details on both sides. As soon as the invitation has been extended, whether by phone or email, I set about to determine answers to basic questions. These include the date and time and place of the event; the sponsor and demographic and number of the attendees; what will be provided in terms of travel reimbursement, meals, overnight accommodations, and honorarium; topic and length of presentation(s) and if group discussion questions are required; whether or not a book-table and helpers will be provided; and any helpful feedback from this same event the prior year.
|It's imperative to get your agreement in writing.|
Though much of this information is often covered in a phone conversation, it is imperative to get it in writing as well. I also include on my contract form a place to write the primary contact person, address, phone, etc. as well as the sponsor’s website and Facebook pages for publicity. I include details on what I require if they are making a DVD or CD of my speaking, and ask them what/when they need from me with regards to publicity photo, description, handouts, etc.
Most importantly I require that they complete this form and return it to me by a stated date “in order to confirm the appearance of Lucinda Secrest McDowell at your event.” They are encouraged to keep a copy as well. Both parties benefit from having these details written down and signed by the contact person. No form, no commitment.
If you are just starting out as a speaker or you are a seasoned speaker, you will come across as committed to your craft if you utilize such a tool. I know it can be tricky discussing money, but whether you work with your hosts on an honorarium fee or accept a love offering, this form should spell that out. If you expect payment to be made “at the event” rather than mailing it to you afterwards, make that clear. I require a 20% deposit of the agreed upon honorarium as well.
What I do may not work for you. I am including my simple contract form here, (An Example of a Speakers Contract) but suggest that you decide what details are important for you to know. Then, be willing to work with those who are interested in your message. Be flexible, but never apologize for being a professional.
In the comments section of today’s blog I hope you will offer your own suggestions for what needs to be decided ahead of time as speaking events are planned. We can all learn from one another.
The most important thing to remember is to be grateful for every opportunity to share your message. Being recognized as a speaker on any given subject is a privilege and an honor and we want to always be kind and gracious to those we meet. Our influence does not begin when we walk up to the podium—it begins when we first answer the phone or email from someone who is interested in our words.
Never apologize for being a professional #speaker or #writer - via @LucindaSMcDowel (Click to Tweet)
Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is the author of 11 books, contributing author to 25 books, and has published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she studied at the Wheaton Graduate School of Communication and served as Communications Specialist for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (Thailand) and Editor for Billy Graham’s International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (Netherlands). A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), she has received “Writer of the Year” awards from both Mt. Hermon and Blue Ridge Writers Conferences. Cindy speaks internationally through her ministry “Encouraging Words” and co-directs the New England Christian Writers Retreat. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England. Visit her online at www.EncouragingWords.net