No More Unpaid Speaking Engagements

Money focuses attention. That is a lesson I learned the hard way as I built my business (to read more about the spectacular transition from making almost no money two years ago to already a quarter million dollars so far this year, click here).

Holding out for a win/win

Here are the EIGHT reasons I will no longer be accepting unpaid speaking engagements.

1. Money focuses attention and creates a commitment. I learned the hard way that when the student doesn’t invest money and commit to the process, both the student and the teacher get cheated. The teacher feels unappreciated and doesn’t have enough money to pay her bills. And the student is free to continue to making his bullshit and excuses for why he is not getting his life on track. Because, after all, he never really made a commitment, and there is nothing to hold him accountable.

I am now applying this same wisdom to speaking engagements. I have been turning down speaking engagements all year long, and I have no regrets about it.

2. Events often fail to pay for themselves. Over the past few years, I have probably spent $30,000 or more of my own money and personal vacation or business time to speak at events for men all over the country. I received almost zero compensation for that, and all the expenses were out of pocket. A few of those events did pay for themselves in coaching sign-ups. Most of them did not.

3. Broken promises and unequal treatment of women. In some cases, I was promised an hour to speak, and was cut off at 35 minutes before even having a chance to pitch my services. In many cases, the next speakers were hustled on stage right after I got off, and the audience had no post-speech opportunity to talk with me. In many cases, women were given less publicity and speaking time than male speakers and less-than-ideal speaking slots. And in some cases, I was the only woman speaking.

In one extremely egregious case, an event organizer who has no integrity whatsoever got a bunch of pre-event publicity, made a bunch of pre-event promises, and then reneged on all of it. What’s most amazing about it is that he still thinks it was justified and has no clue about the importance of keeping his word.

4. Chaos and disorganization. Recent events have been extremely disorganized, with some speakers given two or more hours to speak, and others given 15 minutes, with no organized opportunities to pitch to the students. Students at the speeches have not been educated about the importance of giving back to the speakers, and tend to have an entitlement attitude. One guy got pissed off at my last speaking engagement because, after giving a free workshop to the group, I refused to give him a personal free session also. God forbid anyone should ask him to contribute money to my well-being in exchange for a personal one-on-one session with a world-class instructor (never mind that he clearly has money, having traveled around the globe to be at the event). It’s not the first time that this sort of thing has happened.

5. Poor introductions. Event organizers have not bothered to learn my method (which all of them would be using if they understood it), which means introductions are lackluster or non-existent. At some events, I was not even officially introduced or plugged.

6. I can make more money and feel more respected staying home. After dedicating days or even a week or more of my time, travel expenses, and energy to creating a speech and trucking to an event, this kind of situation is no longer tolerable to me.

I can stay home, create a new product for my loyal customers, and make a LOT more money. And feel a lot more respected, because I won’t have to put up with this bullshit.

7. Unreliable tracking systems for affiliate sales of tickets.
In some cases, I have sent enormous amounts of traffic and not received credit for ticket sales. Eventbrite is not a reliable tracking system, and I will not be promoting through it anymore. Events without solid sales pages and reliable tracking systems will not be promoted.

8. Not listening to feedback. In many cases, these event organizers were told by many speakers about our frustrations yet have not appeared to listen.


For all these reasons and more, I will no longer be speaking at engagements unless I am paid for them in advance. Payment will, at a minimum, need to cover my time and my travel expenses (including a nice hotel). It will also need to be clear to me in advance that the event is going to be well-organized and well-attended, and that everything about the event will be handled with respect and an attitude of win/win.

Event organizers have many options to make these events win/win. They could pay our fee through affiliate sales of our products. They could raise ticket prices substantially. They can be more careful about scheduling of speakers and stop scheduling speakers at times when it is obvious that almost no students will be in the room.

Money focuses attention. And I believe that insisting on being paid for speaking will lead to more focused attention, more commitment by the students, and better overall events. I’m not rigid or inflexible, however I will insist that my time and money be respected, and that these events be worthwhile. It’s time for a much higher standard of professionalism in this community, and everything I have learned over the last few years indicates that the fastest way to achieve this is to have people put their money where their mouth is.


Erika Awakening, High Priestess of Miracles at TAPsmarter

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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