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Turning Inquiries Into Engagements

Effective Inquiry Responses & Follow-Up

To the extent that you deal directly with speaking inquiries, or directly supervise the person who does, there are a variety of skills that can often improve your outcomes. When an inquiry comes in, what are the best ways to evaluate it and then respond? As the discussion goes back and forth, what are the questions to ask, the things to look for, and the strategies to yield the best results? What are the issues you should cover in verbal discussions? More about how to respond effectively to speaking engagement inquiries here >>

Explaining What You Talk About

Thoughtful and skillful presentation of your speaking topics can translate into a substantial increase in the number of initial inquiries you receive. Of course many things are involved in moving from an inquiry to a booking, but the first challenge is to prompt someone searching for a speaker to think, “this might be the person for whom we’ve been looking.” More about explaining what you talk about here >>

Talking About Your Speaking Fee

Inquirers will very often start out asking for your “standard” fee. It is seldom the best approach to start talking numbers right away. A smarter approach is to find out as much as you can first. Who are they, who have they engaged as a speaker in the past, what are they going to want from you, and not to be overlooked, how easy or hard will the trip be? You should know these things BEFORE providing a specific quote. Understandably, inquirers will want to have some idea if booking you is even financially possible before spending a bunch of time discussing what they view as details. You may feel likewise. So start with a fee range, perhaps a big one, and narrow it down as you progress. More about talking about your speaking fee here >>

Expense Reimbursement Options

Expense reimbursement provisions are sometimes tied to negotiating the fee itself because some venues have a budget for their total cost to engage a speaker, and they cannot exceed their budgeted amount for fee and expenses combined. More about alternative approaches to quoting expenses here >>

Payment Terms

In some cases, payment terms are fixed by the policies of the engaging organization. This is often the case with public agencies and universities. They will pay only after a talk is given. While their payment may be agonizingly slow, these same entities always pay eventually. Under these circumstances, trying to negotiate alternative payment terms may not be worth the effort. On the other hand, careful attention must be given for any prospective engagements where payment after the fact cannot be considered 100 percent certain. More on payment terms here >>

Agreement On Scope Of Activity

You’ve accepted an afternoon keynote. Sounds easy. Fly there in the morning, give the talk, fly back home afterward. One long day. Of course, they tell you after the agreement is done that they've been assuming all along that you'd be willing to attend a press conference that morning, and then they really want you to stay for a before dinner social and reception. Your hosts tell you that they thought this would be no big deal for you, but that it is very important to them. Your one-day engagement has suddenly turned into three days work at the one-day price. More on how to get clarity about your scope of work (before you agree on a fee) here >>

Overall Agreement In Concept

The key pieces of your preliminary or informal agreement include the length and topic focus of your talk (noting any significant special requests), your fee, expense reimbursement provisions, payment terms, and your total scope of activity and schedule. The pieces are highly interconnected. The engaging venue should understand that your activities and the schedule on which they occur cannot be changed arbitrarily or without consultation. More on how you can effectively summarize the agreement you have reached informally here >>

Formalizing Your Agreement

This discussion of reaching informal agreements with venues inquiring about engaging you as a speaker will stop short of giving advice about contracting. Our experience operating a speakers bureau did not include contracting, and we are explicitly not giving legal advice here.

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