My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Thursday, May 05, 2010

Paying to Speak at Conferences ain’t a bad thing.

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I speak at a lot of conferences and I like to think I am being invited because my talks are a mix of interesting and informative with just a dash of southern charm that you only get from being Canadian.

Because I speak so much I think I understand the conference scene pretty good and found a recent blog post by Scott Stratten interesting because he was saying that a certain conference was charging to speak at their event and he didn’t like it.
Now I don’t and wont pay to speak anywhere. I will waive my fee for friends or a great opportunity but paying to speak is not something I would do so he and I are similar in that way but I don’t share the same passion as Scott on this subject because paying to speak at a conference isn’t such a bad thing under certain circumstances.
If I was a freelance consultant offering my services to a specific industry I would absolutely pay to speak at very targeted conference because it would be an investment the same way as advertising is but this would be laser targeted and probably reap a financial return right away. There is no better way to develop new business then to stand on a stage and prove to people through your own work examples how great working with you would benefit them.
There are plenty other sides to this argument but on a whole it is just about opportunities matching your personal or professional goals…and if you don’t want to pay to speak because it doesn’t match your goals then do what I do….I delete those offers.
What says you?
  1. Thanks Saul, great points & I enjoyed your AIM presentation last week. Great advice for people hoping to actively market themselves & their business. However, as an audience member, if the speaker is paying to present, they are obviously more likely NOT to provide information that you can use, rather indicate reasons why you need to hire them to provide a service for you. If I was a paying member of the audience I would get up and walk out – as happened at some AIM presentations (obviously not yours)! So, the advice you give is solid, however the "bait & switch" factor for the audience is a possibility that also needs to be addressed.

  2. That's an excellent point. Bait and Switch is a bad way to start a relationship and chances are you wouldn't hire that person anyway because of it. One thing I wasn't clear on is that I yhink there is little value in "selling" marketing services to a room full of marketers but if I was consulting I would be talking marketing at Dentist conferences, or Home decorator etc etc.

    Talks should never be about selling aservixe but they can be about teaching through your past successes and by that people will want to seek you out.

    At least that's what I think should happen 🙂

    (sent from the road. Ignore typos)

  3. In the sense of that post, "paying" meant paying the price of admission. As an attendee and speaker at CarBamps, WordCamps and PodCamps, I'm used to paying to attend and speak at events. It's a little different in the sense of how much you pay (the most I've ever paid is $50)

    However, I know that speaking at those events directly lead me to new business opportunities. Getting front of people that were interested in what I had to say and what I do was worth the price of admission.

    And about the content of talks, you're absolutely right. It's not about selling service, but about sharing insight. No doubt there are people listening to you that will say "I don't need to learn how he did it, I need to hire him to do it for me," which is how I prefer to get all my business.

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