Several months ago, a new meeting planner asked me to justify my fee. She couldn’t understand why my fee was so much. In fact, she let me know in no uncertain terms that someone else from the community had offered to speak to her students for free. I understood. For 10 years, I planned conferences, retreats, and programs for Mississippi Highway Safety and SADD youth programs. I hired speakers and always questioned their fees. When I made the leap into the world of professional speaking, I quickly understood why professional speakers charge what they do.
My fee is not just for the 45 minutes I am on stage. By the time you see me, I have already had several pre-program conversations with meeting planners and spent hours carefully constructing each customized presentation. If a leadership retreat is the venue, I have prepared a multitude of activities, games, and information for the participants. Handouts or manuals have been created, and supplies have been gathered. The day before the program, I have left my son and dealt with all of the challenges of air travel. I will return home to him late the next night or early the following morning.
Experience has taught me to anticipate the challenges. While a youth conference usually offers an enthusiastic audience, addressing the spectators at a school assembly can be difficult. The first period of the day, most students are lethargic. The last period of the day, students can be full of energy and unwilling – or unable – to sit still. I have been to many conferences where a presenter’s PowerPoint can’t be shown because the projector malfunctions or the planned video was one every student had just seen. These speakers had not planned for the unexpected. They were one shot wonders.
With rare exception, I am spot on with my plans. This includes being ready for anything. Sometimes my presentation must be shortened because of a last minute schedule change. Instead of 45 minutes, I may be given only 15 or 20 minutes. Many times, I am abruptly asked to stretch out my presentation because another speaker didn’t show up or the organization’s agenda wasn’t timed just right. These requests don’t bother me one bit. I have an arsenal of stories, activities, and games in my back pocket. My mind is constantly evaluating the audience, and I can shift my focus or change my program at a moment’s notice. Even though I’m booked for 45 minutes, I’m prepared for hours more. I’m flexible, confident, and prepared.
When you hire a professional speaker with education and experience, you can be assured that the value goes way beyond what you see in 45 minutes. We work hard to give you and your students a program that you can be proud of. We want to affect positive change within your organization and leave messages that last way beyond the allotted time. We want to work with you and provide value. That’s why we create programs filled with content and the appropriate WOW factor.
A friend and favorite speaker John Alston used to say, “When you speak in an unairconditioned gym with a poor sound system during the last period on a Friday and have success, then you know what it means to be a true professional speaker.”
So that’s why my fee is what it is. I provide a professional service that has taken years to perfect. I know that every program and every audience is unique, and I’m ready for the challenge.