contract-408216_1280Picture this:

There you are…taking the stage with authority and confidence, about to deliver the speech you’ve spent months honing. You made the investment in professional coaching, you discovered your authentic voice, and you rehearsed your presentation from one end to the other and back again. You’ve finally arrived at this auspicious day. As you look out on your audience and prepare to utter the first words of your speech, it hits you….you are officially a professional speaker! But wait…..are you really, or are you just “a speaker?”

“What’s the difference,” you may ask.

That’s easy! A professional speaker uses a contract – always!

Now, it may seem obvious to state such a thing. But frankly, many speakers forget to include this essential communication tool in their speaker’s kit. This is particularly true for individuals who are just getting started in the business of giving public presentations.

Just as a flying trapeze artist only flies above a safety net, the true professional speaker should always work with a contract, a written contract to be specific. Think about it. Don’t we all have stories of our own or from somebody we know wherein a verbal contract for time, services or products seemed sufficient? And, how many of us can testify to the fact that such an agreement rarely comes off without a hitch?

The written contract, in most any field, is the hallmark of professionalism. For you as a professional speaker, a written contract ensures that you and your host have a clear, definitive understanding of the following:

  • Your fees and payment schedule
  • Your needs in terms of space, equipment, props
  • Travel and other expense requirements
  • The host’s needs – i.e. audience type, event type, etc., so you can tailor your presentation as applicable
  • Cancellation policy – yours and the host’s
  • Recording/Use policy – yes, your material is subject to copyright and you need to decide how you want to protect that
  • Day of event particulars: on-site contact, itinerary and the like


Furthermore, a written contract will simply help you track of the details of your engagements so you can keep accurate records and set goals for future speaking jobs. Remember the hard and fast rule of most successful businesses: they are referral-driven. How will you reach out to previous hosts to ask for referrals if all you have to remember them by is a phone conversation or two? How will you establish consistent fee structures and on-site requirements if you’re trying to pull everything up from your memory alone?

A final word on contracts: they apply to all your speaking engagements, including those you may accept on a “pro bono” basis. Even hosts who are not compensating you financially have expectations – sometimes greater expectations than hosts who ARE compensating you financially.  And, your expectations are important as well; having a contract in place well before your event is the key to meeting those expectations –yours and your host’s.

Not sure how to go about putting together a contract for your next speaking engagement? Contact us today and we’ll help you draft an agreement that will position you as a true professional public speaker.

Remember, before you speak, get it in writing! You can’t afford not to!