Speakers, Trainers, Coaches, Authors- does it ever feel like you are on a “Mission Impossible” experience in your professional career to actually get paid for what you do? The current “buzz word” of our industry is “exposure” versus actual income.  

What is “exposure” and what does it really mean to you? Is it better than money? Will it pay your bills and keep your business going? Will it keep me a viable company working for you? 

Merriam-Webster defines “exposure” as “the condition of being presented to view or made known.”  For professional speakers this keeps coming into play much like which came first-the chicken or the egg!  

I totally believe everyone in our industry should give back to others with their gifts and abilities!  I encourage my team members to include in their yearly business plan, a portion of their time to do “pro bono” events, such as the Chamber of Commerce, non-profits, church, and other community events first, just as other professions do.  However, all other events have to be paid so they can operate a business versus just having a “hobby” as a speaker. 

That seems like a pretty clear and “simple” business model, doesn’t it?  However, with all this “mystery” floating around no wonder why a lot feel they have to seek other full time employment, so that maybe one day they can afford to pay to follow their dream. How sad, but it can be different! 

This is a true story:  A well known major event (anyone would recognize this event, and many of you probably have this as one of your “dream gigs” of the century) called for speakers and trainers with an expected audience of over 4000. It was to be located out of our state, and they only vetted the best!  

Always working on generating business for my team, I inquired about submitting a proposal. I asked my usual survey questions, and when the fee issue came up was advised that was not a problem as the registration for each attendee was $500.00. They informed me the details and I was excited about matching the right speakers to the event!  We worked hard and I was very proud of our efforts and happily sent our proposal by priority mail.

I was excited to receive a call from the planning committee within two days after receiving our proposal. They explained: “it was an honor and such great “exposure” to be a speaker and workshop presenter at this event, and they were accepting our proposal. However, they do not pay a monetary fee-the “exposure” is worth more than any of the fees we had in our proposal.” 

I thought I must not have heard correctly so I asked: “so you are telling me you agree my speakers are good enough to speak to your valuable audience; but to do so they will have to pay to fly over 1000 miles, pay for a three day hotel stay plus meals, do the presentation just as you demand, and there is no funding for them, even though their audience paid a $500 registration fee to see them?  

Then without a pause the person excitedly went on to explain we could certainly bring our books and materials to sell-of course with a percentage being given back to the organization, and it was also a given that our speakers would also pay the $500 registration fee as well.

I really thought this must be an April Fool’s Day joke, but I was further advised they needed to know our answer by that afternoon, as there was a waiting list of speakers ready to take our place!  What would your answer be? Is “exposure” enough? Do you think we should have accepted this arrangement?  

Stay tuned for the conclusion on Thursday, April 11.  This message will self-destruct as soon as you read it! Cool 

 “Simply” Sue