I was rather happy when a non-for profit that I have been working with regularly asked me to give three talks over the summer. The past several years the firm paid me $500 each time I gave a 1-hour talk. This was not a huge sum when you consider what speakers make, but from the perspective of a graduate student it is a serious chunk of money.
When considering that it takes about three or four hours to prepare for a one hour talk and even more time to prepare the slides, the hourly rate came out to about $20 an hour. Not great, but not bad, but at least was working and had some summer income.
Three talks in three months came out to $1500, a nice sum considering the talks were already drafted and only required modification. But I made a huge mistake; I did not sign the details in writing.
So far I gave given two of three talks. The first was a webinar style talk where I get to give the talk from the comfort of my own home. After the first talk I was told “a little something is in the mail”, the phrase I heard in the past that means “your $500 check is in the mail”. Two weeks later I flew to give my second talk on location (expenses paid) and after the talk was given a check odor $500. Excellent! I had $500 and hopefully upon returning home I would have a check waiting for me…. but it never came.
Once the two week period hit I write the organizer and told her that I did not get my first check. Her response was “we were only able to pay you $500, but you are first on my list of we have honorarium funds.” WTF.
Rather than get mad I realized that I totally screwed up by not signing a contract. Shame on me. Next time I’ll be sure to request a contract with the following:
- What is the topic of the talk?
- What is the speaker fee and how/when will I be paid?
- If the talk is cancelled after signing the contract will I still be paid in full or partial? (I would make this a requirement).
- Is the talk a lecture or workshop?
- Who is the audience for the talk? Public, academic, private, age, etc.
- What is the purpose of the talk?
- What is the length of the talk?
- Where will the talk be given?
- If online what software is used?
- If face to face are all travel expenses paid?
- What is the room like?
- Is there a projector?
- Do I need my own computer and adaptors?
- Are there dual monitors?
- Is there audio?
- Is the talk recorded (and if so my rate goes up)?
- What is the dress code for the talk?
- If the talk is off site do I need to arrange my transportation? If not, can you send me a schedule? If I make my own travel plans will I be reimbursed?
Perhaps with these questions in mind, and IN WRITING, I won’t get screwed in the future.
As I become more processional I may also consider a speaker contact such as these offered by the National Speakers Association:
Since, once I give the third talk I will have provided $1000 in “service and training” for a non-for profit. What do you think, will I be able to recoup the costs as a deductible?