Inspired by this blog post by Ideas on Fire founder and CEO Cathy Hannabach, as well as my own experiences speaking at events over the last 10+ years, I have decided to more pro-actively outline my expectations as a speaker. This is designed to make communication between event organizers and myself much more efficient, and everything covered are things event planners need to/should have figured out anyway (I know, having planned many such events myself)! Most of the information here applies to in-person events but some apply even to online events. Also, while this is primarily for invited talks/workshops/etc., if you want me to guest speak in your class covering as much of the info below as possible is very much appreciated. More resources are linked below if you are here to get ideas for drafting your own speaker agreement.
So…. If you want me to speak at your organization or event:
I require the following details to be clarified first, ideally in your initial email to me:
- What date and time is the event? If it’s not set, a general timeframe is helpful.
- Does it require I travel? For how many days?
- Are you paying me? See section on payment below.
- How long is the talk you are asking me to give? How many events are you asking me to present at? See scope of work section below.
- Are you expecting a new talk with original materials, that I speak on a topic tailored for your event, or a talk I have presented before?
- If this is a panel, will there be other panelists? If so, how many, who are they, and how were they selected? Why was I invited to be part of this panel?
- Will there be a Q&A session afterwards? Will there be a moderator?
In creating a contract/memorandum of understanding/statement of work (whatever your institution allows for) we need to discuss the following as well:
Scope of work: How many events/meetings/etc. (including meals) am I expected to participate in and be present for, in addition to the main speaking event? What will those entail and when will I receive a schedule? Note: I love meeting people and having meals, but I will also happily entertain myself. Do not feel like you need to keep me busy for my whole visit. But if you are asking for two full days of my time, I will need to assess my availability (i.e. will I have down time to grade/write/answer emails?).
Audience/Reach: How and to what audiences will the event be advertised? How many attendees do you expect (for each event if applicable)? Who are they? Do they have to pre-register or pay to attend? I have happily given talks to rooms of a dozen and auditoriums of hundreds. I have spoken to audiences of students (high school through graduate school), academics, people who work in various industries, and broader communities of folks. I just want to know what to expect.
Copyright/recording: Will the event be recorded? If so, who will have access to the recording? Who retains copyright on that recording? Will it be paywalled or put online where anyone can watch it? Will I have the right to ask that it be taken down in the future and/or be given my own copy of the recording to do with as I please? If there is a transcript where and how will that be made available? By default, I wish to retain the rights to any recording of myself, but I am willing in certain contexts for it to be shared.
Technological considerations: What is the tech situation for the talk and other events? Will I be able to use my own computer or need to use another device? Will there be tech support on hand to help set up microphones, computers, etc.? How much access to the space will I have before the event to orient myself? Or for online events how early should I plan to log on to set up my presentation? And please let me know what platform you are using, and if I am not familiar with it, we should set up a test session before the event.
Accessibility and Safety: What accessibility accommodations have been made for the event? For in-person and online events: will there be captions or live transcription? Does the event/organization/space have a code of conduct? If it is online: what safety or moderating measures are in place? Here is an outline of additional factors to consider as you plan your event particularly for in-person events: https://ideasonfire.net/how-to-make-your-event-accessible/
Other considerations: All of these things have created issues at events I’ve presented at before, which is why I ask!
- Who is introducing me and what information do they need before the event?
- When will I receive necessary details (links, directions, travel information, etc.)?
- If it requires travel, who is responsible for arranging the travel? If relevant, how will I get to/from the airport/train station/etc.? Will anyone meet me to direct me/transport me or am I expected to find the venue myself? How much travel time is involved and how much time will I have between traveling and the first event I am expected to be present for?
- Will water be provided at the talk, or will I have to bring my own? Will food be provided at any time? What breaks have been planned between events?
- Are there any other big events at your organization that same day? Will those affect my event (whether that be traffic, businesses closed for a holiday, crowds at the hotel/restaurants, or attendance)?
The honorarium I expect for events varies on the basis of:
- The type of organization (for-profit vs. non-profit, community vs. industry, public vs. private entity), etc. and the size of the event
- How much of my time (including travel and preparation time) is required
- How much I am asked to do beyond the presentation (meetings, classroom visits, leading workshops, etc.)
- The nature of the event (if people are paying to attend vs. free events; open to the public or made for a small group)
- The location or timing of the event (if it coincides with travel I am already doing, for example)
- If and how much other invited speakers are being offered for the event
What I request all organizers do when contacting me about speaking is simply tell me up front how much (or if) you can afford for an honorarium so we can negotiate what I can provide from there. Because of the numerous factors above I do not have a “standard rate,” and trust that you are best aware of what and how much your organization can afford. If this is your first time having a speaker, let me know and we can discuss it further.
If the event includes travel, however, I expect travel and accommodation costs to be covered. This is non-negotiable for me. This includes a per mile rate if the event does not require an overnight stay/air travel. If your institution only allows you to reimburse travel expenses, let me know that up front.
Once the above details are worked out, here is a sample outline of what our agreement can look like. The details will vary by type of event:
Template for a contract or memorandum of understanding
Parties: This agreement is made and entered into by <Who am I entering into this agreement with and what entity do you represent> and Dr. Adrienne Shaw (as an individual/sole proprietor).
Description of Services and Scope of Work: What are you asking me to do? See the details above and please make sure everything is included.
Expectation for Hosts: Please see above for questions regarding logistics, technological considerations, safety and accessibility, and other considerations and summarize here anything we have agreed to that you can provide
Schedule: When, where, how will this event take place.
Recording: Will this event be recorded? If so, who will have access to the recording?
Ownership of Property and Copyright: My default agreement is: The video recording, transcription, and presentation materials are solely the property of Adrienne Shaw. Dr. Shaw will allow <insert entity> to make those materials available to <registered attendees> following the event. However we can discuss this as needed.
Compensation: What will you pay me? What do I need to provide you for that payment? If travel is covered but only via compensating me for expenses after the fact include those details here as well. How will I be paid and when (roughly) will that payment be processed.
Additional resources that guided my thinking here:
Determining speaking fees
Examples of or outlines for speaker agreements or riders: