Should you say YES to speaking for FREE?
Your phone rings and the person on the other end wants you to speak to her group for free. You can almost hear the desperation in her voice. You may have been in the same position yourself, trying to line up a speaker when there’s no budget to pay for one. Do you say yes or give them someone else’s name?
It’s a great idea to say yes when . . .
- You’ve got a good idea for a talk and you need to test it out on a live audience.
- You’re new in the business and you need to get your support materials together like price sheets and business card designs. There’s nothing more perfect than a deadline to anchor these tasks to a due date.
- You want paying customers.
I was talking to a newer consultant about this recently. “I need paying customers,” she said. “Not just for my bank account but for my self-esteem.” I remember when I felt the same way. I’d trained from the best and I needed to get out and build my client base. I looked for every local venue I could find that would allow me to come and speak on an image subject for free or for a small honorarium. I found those spots in libraries, Adult Education programs and Community classes. I created speaking opportunities in stores that I wanted to take future clients to for personal shopping.
“But there’s all that prep time, Brenda. What’s really in it for me?” you may ask.
- Some of the venues have huge mailing lists and hundreds, maybe thousands, will view your name as the course instructor along with the course description. You become known as the image expert in your area whether they take the classes or not.
- The opportunity to share success stories that illustrate what you can do for paying clients can be peppered throughout your talk. The success stories you share will surely make someone say, “I wantthis person to help me!”
Early in my career, I created a class to be held after hours in a clothing store. Two people showed up. One could easily ask oneself, is it worth it to hire a babysitter to go out and speak to an audience of two and not get paid for it? Well, 50% of that audience hired me on the spot. Yes, that’s one person, but Teresa was an ideal client. I worked with her season after season on shopping trips and in her closet. When I was asked to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show, I called her to see if she wanted to be one of my “models” for demonstrating what makes women look matronly and what makes them look youthful. And even though she was one of the people who only demonstrated the awful things like decorated sweatshirts, she was a great sport! She passed away over a year ago. She was one of my greatest champions who inspired me constantly. Am I glad I did that talk for free to an audience of two? Immeasurably!
Is there a reason to say NO to giving a FREE talk?
Yes! I’d say no to giving a free talk when the audience isn’t the right fit for me. Someone else might be better suited for a teenaged audience, for instance, than I am. Do you want clients that live closer to you so you can avoid a long commute? Then say yes to only those engagements that are within your ideal driving distance.
Start looking for places where you can speak for free. Your ideal clients are just waiting to say YES to you and your services.
P.S. At Brenda Kinsel ETC, we have a program that makes saying YES to speaking engagements even easier. Check out the Monthly Marketing Bundles.