Since Online Marketing Inside Out was released in June 2009, I have spoken about 40 times all over the country and internationally. I have spoken at small venues such as Chamber of Commerces and American Advertising Federation chapters, and at large conferences like SxSW and Blogworld, and everything in-between.
But all good things must come to an end and it’s time for me to take a (potentially temporary) break from speaking. While I have thoroughly enjoyed speaking at conferences and events, there are definitely downsides too.
I need to spend time with my kids
The biggest reason I’m taking a break from speaking is the time away from my family. About a month ago, my son said something about me never being home, and that really stung. As Interactive Director at Kelsey Advertising & Design and owner at 2BigFeet.com, I have to travel several times a year for business, so adding a speaking engagement every month meant I was gone once or twice a month for several days – usually on weekends. Taking a break from speaking will mean more time with my kids.
I need to focus on my business
Working full-time as Interactive Director doesn’t leave much time for being the leader of a growing company. I do a lot of high-level work during lunches, in the evenings, and on the weekends. When I’m off at a conference speaking, it’s hard to get any time to work, because there’s always something going on. I am either rehearsing my presentation, at a networking function, or meeting colleagues for lunch or dinner.
Speaking so often over the past few years has taken a toll on my business. Our growth, which was averaging 85% a year, has slowed substantially to around 30%. That’s still great growth, especially in this economy, but I know we can do better. I have projects (like a mobile-optimized website) that have been stalled for months, simply because I don’t have time to work on them.
Conference organizers don’t fairly compensate speakers
Public speaking does have several benefits to professionals. It does help to establish yourself as an industry expert, can be a marketing and lead-generation tool for your business, and can promote a book or other products or services you have to offer. But these are really secondary to the time and effort that goes into planning and executing a good presentation.
A successful presentation can take 40 hours to brainstorm, plan, write, design, and rehearse. Add to that the travel time and expenses, not to mention time away from work and family, and speaking can be incredibly expensive.
Most conference organizers and event planners are really great people, but many of them try to take advantage of speakers (even if they don’t realize they are doing it). I often get asked to speak at a conference out of state, for no compensation at all, and I am expected to cover airfare, hotel, and other travel expenses. And some will even ask you to pay to go to their event on top of that!
But because there are so many young professionals out there interested in professional speaking, events rarely have a problem finding someone to speak. It might not be the best speaker, but they’re free and pay their own way.
Because of the two reasons mentioned above, I simply cannot pay someone else to go and speak at an event.
When I will still speak at your event
I am taking the next couple of months to focus on my family and personal projects, but I am still willing to speak at a small number of conferences or events in 2012, providing you are able to meet the following conditions:
All expenses must be covered, including the following.
- Hotel (at least two nights for one presentation day)
- Mileage to/from airport
If you cannot pay me to come and speak, I understand. But unfortunately, I will most likely decline the opportunity. My standard fee for a one-hour presentation (that takes approximately 40 hours of preparation time) is $1,000. Longer workshops or keynote presentations start at $2,500.
This is still a very low fee considering both the preparation time and the fact that I will be losing two days of productive work to travel and speak at your event. If your budget allows, I would love to talk to you about speaking for your event.