Hi! I’m a bit dolled up in today’s video as I’m about to sing at a corporate event. There are, of course, vast amounts of overlap between performing and speaking and I love to speak about the business and voice-related aspects of both (as you may already know from my book ‘How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking) so please excuse the sparkles and sequins this week!

Today’s post was inspired by a question someone sent to me on Instagram. She’d been asked to speak but there’d been no mention of payment and she was wondering how she could broach the topic to the event organisers.

In a quick summary of the video, here’s the scoop. Let me preface this by saying I’m certainly not a negotiation expert and it’s not something I’ve studied. A couple of good books I’ve come across on the subject are Chris Voss’, ‘Never Split the Difference’ and ‘Getting to Yes’ by Roger Fisher and William Ury.

You may also have heard of the free, fee or flee model. I discuss it below.

If someone asks you to speak at their event

Always ask ‘Is there a budget?’ That will hopefully flush out whether or not there’s any cash to pay you, and will have them say aloud that they’d like you to speak for free.

If they want you to speak for free

Think carefully about what’s in it for you. Can you get footage, testimonials, referrals or more from your experience? Can you promote your work or build your list? Do you love speaking to that type of audience and want to do it for the sheer joy of speaking? Don’t be afraid of negotiating…ask for what you want and if they push back, then feel free to suggest you give a bit less.

If you’re being paid a fee

The same still applies. You’re not getting the amount you want? Perhaps suggest speaking for a little less time.

Or if you’re super keen to speak and they’re not quite sure that you’re the right person for their event, you can sweeten things up a bit by suggesting additional value you can add…perhaps by supplying books at cost price for their audience, or making some of your electronic resources available to the audience for free.

When it’s time to flee

If you can see no benefit whatsoever in speaking at that event then hey, just run! But do it in style.

Maybe you speak to the organiser and suggest another individual for the role – one you know would be a safe bet. That way you’re doing both the organiser and the potential replacement a favour.

But if there’s no joy for you in taking the speaking engagement and indeed, you feel you’d rather be doing anything, anywhere than speaking at that event, then don’t be afraid to turn it down. Maybe it’s too far from home. Maybe the audience isn’t right for you. Maybe it doesn’t make business sense. Maybe you’d rather be at home watching East Enders (a dire and long-running British soap opera, for those of you not from the UK).

In certain cases it’s better to say no, and pass the opportunity to someone else, than be there and not do a great job. You might end up feeling resentful that you’re not being compensated adequately or because you know you’re wasting your time.

Keep things on a positive footing between you and the event organiser…you never know when you might be able to help each other.


So free, free or flee…which will it be? Make your decision and feel good about it. And always remember the value you have to offer!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your business:

1 – Get my free guide – 27 places to find speaking opportunities.

Find out where your next speaking opportunity might come from – whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced speaker.

2 – Join my Facebook Group – Public Speaking for Female Coaches and Entrepreneurs.

Join us for tips, discussions and community!

3 – Join my group coaching program – Get Clients with Speaking in 60 Days.

This is a comprehensive online course for coaches and entrepreneurs who want to build their business with speaking. You’ll find thorough advice on how to become a competent public speaker as well as how to develop a marketing system to grow your business, make a greater impact and earn more cash. It also includes live workshops, Q&A calls and lots of fun bonuses.

4 – Find out about my VIP Days and private coaching.

Book me for a VIP half or full-day session if you want to make some serious progress! We could help you create a business networking strategy and perfect your pitch. Or we could work on your signature talk so that audience members or hungry to work with you. Or we could explore frameworks and strategies to help give you confidence whether you’re speaking at conferences, in meetings or at other events. Or more!!