Dear Event Organizer,
I get it. Running an event is complicated. You’re dealing with the venue, catering, scheduling, av team, budget, getting butts in seats, and pleasing the powers that be.
But, my dear event organizer, we need to have a serious conversation about not paying the people who make your event worth attending.
I doubt you are paying the caterers, the AV team, and the marketing team with “exposure.” Being professionals, they would laugh and hang up the phone if you offered them “exposure” in exchange for their services.
Yet that is all the payment that you propose to your speakers: Exposure.
The fact is that you can’t pay rent with exposure, buy food with exposure, or pay for your kid’s ballet lesson with exposure.
The speakers are the draw to an event. They are the reason butts show up in the seats and the fact that you don’t want to pay these people needs to stop.
The more you charge for people to attend your event, the more you need to pay for the speakers that those people will hear.
For instance, let’s say you charge $1000 to attend your conference. What if you took $100 of that fee and put it towards a speaking budget. If 500 people attended your conference, you’d have a speakers budget of $50,000.
Speakers aren’t expecting to get rich from your event, we are expecting to get paid a living wage.
And if you’re thinking, “Michelle, we are barely breaking even at that price”, then raise the cost of your conference by $100 so you can afford to pay your speakers.
Being able to pay your speakers only benefits the event that you’re putting on. Paying your speakers ensures that you attract high-quality speakers to your conference. The better speakers you have, the better the experience your audience has. The better the experience your audience has, the more they will talk up your conference to their colleagues which means you’ll be able to put more butts in seats for your events next year.
It’s a win for you, a win for your organization, and a huge win for the speakers who deserve to be paid for their work, experience, and expertise.
For the love of all things good, pay your speakers,