We know the drill. Pay me for my expertise, my knowledge, my intellectual property, my joie de vivre (Fr. zest for life). Let’s face it, we’re special. I mean that.

We chose to attempt to make a living by speaking, consulting, training and more. No guarantees and no FREE presentations were drilled into our heads since we made “the leap.”

So, when is it okay to present for free? There is no one answer that is always right, however you’ll see below times that I and fellow speakers made a conscious decision to pay our own way to an event or deliver it virtually.

1)  Just starting out

The more you speak the more you speak is an adage the speaks volumes. In the beginning, we will speak at an animal rescue shelter for treats, a nursing home for flavorless food or another Rotary chicken dinner. It’s fine to speak for free when you begin your journey, because it allows you to make connections, collect information from participants and be seen.

2)  Damn, this is a good fit.

As speakers, we’ve been told of the wonderful exposure, people we’ll meet and the possibility of getting hired by attendees. I call BS. I call true. I say it is important to remember that you CAN get hired, but you have to work it by doing the following:

  1. Deliver a fantabulos presentation
    1. Know how to connect with the participants
    1. Be very comfortable selling/marketing

3)  Higher‐level freebies

I have landed big paydays speaking for free, however that is not the norm for me or most others. Here’s the secret; build yourself as an expert by listening well, asking great questions and gently sell/market your skills as they pertain to your potential client. It takes guts, patience and waiting for the person on the other end of the phone to warm up to you. See what I did there? I have you speaking with an actual person on your cell — the, nerve of me! This is like exercising, in that it takes practice and time to improve. Like many of you, I find this practice intimidating but the results are always a yes, a no or a let’s circle back down the road.

Obvious and not-so-obvious questions that can get you paid include:

  1. Are you filming my presentation? If yes, you’ll want an unedited copy from the videographer before you leave. This assures having the video when you want it and not having to ask/beg for it.
  • Can you please have a senior leader (for an organization or a board member for an association) watch me present? I’d like to be considered as a keynote, or a trainer for future events later this year or the following year. The angle here is that you want them to see you shine because if they like you, they will pay you next time!
  • Exposure can work. I landed paid business opportunities because I spoke at national, state and local events. Here’s a question I love to ask. “Is there an opportunity for me to present twice? I have two topics that would be a great fit and resonate with your participants.” The idea being that the more people who see me, the better. And, they have to find and approve fewer speakers which helps them save time!

Are you willing to present for free? I have. Virtual presentations make travel a non‐issue. However, we still need to weigh each opportunity individually, ask good questions and make it a win‐win. Plus, there are few shortcuts in our business. You’re going to have to work you butt off, seriously. The payoff can be 5, 10, 20k or more.

Scott Lesnick is an International Keynote Speaker, Author, educator. Learn more at http://www.scottlesnick.com/