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Why I Don't Speak For Free

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 3, 2010 5:03:23 AM

I’m often asked to waive my speaking fee, and I refuse to do it virtually every time.  The organization making the request always comes with the same justification – it’ll be good for my business.  They say that there will be qualified prospects in the audience and that I should consider access to that audience to be quite valuable.

Every time I hear this, I have the same two thoughts:

First, I think how disrespectful this is to their audience.  How would this organization’s members feel with their organization “selling” their precious attention and time to the lowest bidder?

Second, and more importantly, it is my opinion that anyone who would waive their fee is clearly not qualified to speak.  You see there are only two reasons that someone would speak for free:


  1. Because they’re not very good and can’t justify a fee, or

  2. Because they’re selling something.  And if that’s the case, it’s not a speech – it’s a sales pitch


Think about it.  I speak about how companies can move beyond price and enhance their margins.  If I can’t earn a fee for speaking, then what business do I have teaching CEOs and salespeople how to get other people to pay them?  Further, why would an organization claiming to serve the needs of such businesses, “hire” someone on such a basis?

While a lot has changed in the world, at least one thing hasn’t – You get what you pay for.

Topics: B2B Sales Strategy