Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Writer & Speaker - Tips to Get Organized


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. 

In advance. 

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.
           
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.

TWEETABLES


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)Ordinary Graces  (2018 Selah Finalist), Live These Words, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,"  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.EncouragingWords.net/ 

11 comments:

  1. What a blessing Ms. Lucinda. I was wondering about this very thing as I've had it happen to me in the past (i.e. I thought you wanted me to speak about this!) God's blessings!

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  2. Ms Lucinda. Am sure I'm doing something incorrect, but can you suggest an alternate means to download your sample Speaker's Contract? -Jim

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    1. Jim, the mistake is mine. Sorry. I fixed the link and it's working now. Blessings, E

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    2. Jim, thanks so much for reading. Hope all the info will be helpful as you continue to share God's Words...

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    3. Y'all both are amazing young ladies! THANK YOU!

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  3. This is wonderful information as I am just starting to get invitations to speak. However, there was no example of the contract attached and I would love to see one.

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    1. Loretta, please forgive me. The link wasn't working, but it's fixed now. Blessings, E

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    2. Loretta, how utterly marvelous that doors are opening for you to share your story! May God empower you fully...

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  4. I will keep this in mind. I am trying to start speaking. So far the only thing I have is a time at a nursing home. No, I can't charge them. But I need to make some more contacts.

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  5. Thank you Quiet Spirit, pray, pursue and God will open the doors.

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  6. I totally agree about a contract, or at least a simple letter of agreement. I suggest 50% of the fee in advance (or when the agreement is made). This prevents last minute cancellations and ensures that all parties have skin in the game. Thanks for your post!

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