Soliciting and engaging a guest speaker – budget or no budget

So, you want to have a guest speaker? You want to bring value to guests of a work, or social, event by livening it up?

As an author, and speaker, I track requests and have a procedure in place for processing inquiries, and for those of you who are asking, you may benefit from this perspective.

Over half of these are for pro-bono events, and while that is good to know, not all of them are opportunities and how they are presented absolutely matters.

If you have a budget, then please consider the following tips for your ease and minimization of time required going back and forth with the speaker or speaker’s agent, when asking an experienced speaker, or leader, to present to an audience to entertain, educate or both:

• Note your subject line or opening line in the conversation (don’t bury the lead) by stating that this is an inquiry to hire for service. Often, we are not sure based on an email, phone call or website inquiry.

• If you were referred by someone, minimally look at the speaker’s website, blog or social media before reaching out to that person. You may decide the person is not a good fit or you might be excited based on what you find.

• Know who the audience will likely be, demographically, and have a goal in mind for them from hearing the speaker’s talk or engagement. Is it inspirational, is it leadership ideas or is it something else?

• If you know the date, or have dates, time slots and locations in mind, share them immediately.

• Know if your budget includes travel or if that comes from another budget. Know if you make travel plans or if the speaker does, and if a guest is included.

• Videotaping is not part of a contract unless that is clear and there may be a charge for that.

• Anticipate that the speaker is to provide a contract, invoice, W-9 (or 1099, if they are not part of an organization but are a freelancer), a pitch for you to promote the event, key takeaways for the attendees, a short bio for print, a headshot and a long bio for your website and other promotional efforts. Ask for their social media links where they will promote the event, if it is public.

If you do not have a budget, or you thought giving someone a membership or that covering an entry fee to a conference was payment, those are not, they are courtesies, and in this case, you are asking for a free sharing of expertise, someone to volunteer their time, and voice, and minimally, for a pro-bono give. Below are some additional tips to consider in this situation.

• State in the subject “Request for Complimentary Speaking Engagement” or “Pro-Bono Speaking Inquiry for XYZ Charity.” Do not use the words “hire” or “opportunity,” or in any way act as though there could be a payment. If you’d like to film the event, disclose that immediately.

• When you approach the person, already have downloaded, and attached, a headshot and bio of the person from their website, Linkedin or other social media. They may change it, but this shows that you are willing to partner and work on this together.

• Ask the speaker if they’d like a contract and you provide it.

• Send all information via email and tag them in your social media without making changes to titles or anything they’ve provided.

• Anticipate that the speaker may provide a zeroed-out invoice for you to sign, to see the value of what you are receiving.

• Send a calendar invite to ensure you are on their calendar.

• If you have a small budget (under $1,000), do not consider this a payment, rather a stipend, and offer it as such. And if it is $500 or less, offer to donate to their favorite charity or send it as a stipend to that speaker (if you have no budget, consider personally offering to donate to that person’s favorite charity as a gesture of appreciation).

• Send a confirmation email 24-48 hours out stating the venue, address, room, number of attendees, the agenda, if you have it, and ensure the speaker has a mobile number for contact on that day.

• Let the group know in the introduction that the speaker gave of their time without using the word free in that mention.

Go ahead and ask. After all, guest speakers can be a huge added benefit and value to anyone attending a work or social function. ♦

Debbie Lundberg is the founder and CEO of the Florida-based national firm, Presenting Powerfully. She is an 11-time published author, certified virtual presenter, certified life coach, certified leadership coach and certified image consultant. Lundberg is a performance coach who co-hosts “The Business Of Life” master class podcast. Her 2020 book, Remote Work Rockstar, has become the guidebook for working and leading, virtually. Lundberg can be seen in her TED Talk, “Who Cares?”

You May Also Like

Habits of salespeople who thrive during times of economic uncertainty

Are we in the midst of – or are about to enter – a period of economic uncertainty? Who knows? But some high-achieving salespeople don’t just survive hard times – they create new “personal best” performance levels during potential down cycles in their business. How do they do it?  In a new white paper, the

Four big takeaways to grow your business

Every year, more than 1,000 of the world’s top sales, leadership and management professionals gather in Orlando for what we call the Sandler Sales & Leadership Summit, where we network, share ideas, celebrate each other’s successes and participate in sessions led by top Sandler training professionals from the United States and around the world. The

The Etiquette of Enthusiasm

Have you ever had an idea so strong you felt like you could not wait to share it? It seems most of us will agree, publicly at least, that we don’t like a “Donnie Downer” (surely you can appreciate the reason we don’t say “Debbie Downer”…), and yet very rarely do we think our enthusiasm

Is your selling process aligned with your buyer’s journey?

What process do your buyers follow before deciding to buy?  Regardless of the person’s title, product, service or industry, we can map out a clear progression from the time a prospect is considering a purchase until the contract is signed and payment is made. The stages of the buyer’s journey that salespeople need to understand

Other Posts

The etiquette of receiving difficult feedback professionally

You might agree that most unsolicited feedback is perceived as criticism. And, with that in mind, you also may agree that it takes constructive, useful feedback to grow. So, what happens when you receive an idea, criticism, feedback or a “You know, you really should …”? It is important to realize most people—not all—absolutely do

5 metrics to include in your goal-setting playbook for the new year

The first month of the year is a classic time for business owners, and sales professionals, to identify and focus on their most important personal, and professional, goals. We’ve noticed, though, that the goal-setting behavior of an organization’s leaders during the month of January tends to have the biggest bottom-line impact on the year, as

How to finish the year strong

The holiday season is already upon us and you might be wondering: “Where did 2022 go?” Maybe you and your company had a great year, blowing through your billing projections and setting revenue records. Or you might be asking yourself: “What went wrong and how do I prevent it from happening again?” But, before you

The importance of pre-qualification

If you’re in sales, sales management or business development, here’s a reality check for you: Are you counting on closing a deal or projecting income from an opportunity that isn’t fully qualified? Whenever we ask sales professionals this powerful question, we often hear an awkward silence in response. Sometimes that silence is because the person,