The other day as I was looking for an old handout from a talk I used to give, I stumbled across something I thought you’d find useful: a “calculator” to figure out whether speaking at an event is worth it or not. You could also use it to decide whether or not to attend a conference, too!
See, back in my agency days (and even when I worked in higher education), I’d get asked to speak at conferences. Usually, it would be around some project that we had worked on that carried lessons for other similar clients or organizations. Invariably, my bosses would question whether or not speaking there was “worth it.”
I’m obviously a big believer in speaking as a form of marketing and business development. When else would you get 45 minutes in front of prospects who self-selected to hear from you? From one speaking appearance at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference, I once closed over $100K in business for the company I was working for at the time. So it always seemed silly to me to NOT speak, but now that I run my own business, I totally get the weighing of costs against potential value.
Now whether or not you actually can turn an audience into clients or customers has a lot to do with what you talk about, and how well. Pro tip: never pitch from the stage, unless you’ve been specifically asked to do so. Audiences hate it, as do organizers. It’s your fastest path to never being asked back.
First, though, you have to convince your boss (even if it’s you) that the time out of the office, the out-of-pocket costs, and the potential to recoup those costs (however indirectly) are worth it.
Rather than fight that battle every time, I came up with that calculator spreadsheet. I set it up so you can view it and even make a copy for yourself. Just clear out all my old answers (which were what I had left in there last, by the way! Six years ago!).
Here’s how it works:
- Up top are all the basic details about the event.
- Next is the “scoring” section. These were the four criteria most important to my bosses at the time, but they still hold up, I’d say.
- I came up with descriptions for each of those criteria that matched “values” between 1 and 5.
- Depending on which one is most accurate about the event for a particular criteria, put that number in the “score” column.
- The score should total up by itself. It’s helpful to decide what your go/no-go score is. I think we set the floor at a score of 15.
- Below that are the costs involved, starting with opportunity costs and ending with hard costs
- You’ll want to adjust the hourly rate to whatever your billable rate is (what you’d charge a client for an hour of your time). Please note these are my 2013 rates. 😉
- That per diem rate is 2013-low, too, but I updated the website where you can grab the government’s official rate sheet, which is what a lot of businesses use.
- If the event covers travel and expenses, just leave those at $0.
- I added a line for any honorarium you’d be paid on top of travel and expenses. You’ll need to sort with your organization who gets that fee. If I remember correctly, my friend Christopher Penn used to have a deal with his company that anything below $10K belonged to them; any fees above that $10K would go to him (so he’d get $5K of a $15K fee). Yes, people get paid that much to speak, and more. People do NOT usually get paid for breakouts, though there are exceptions.
What you’ll get at the end is a total cost for the event, which you’ll decide is worth it or not, based on the score. I suppose you could get fancy and figure out a calculation to help you decide. Generally, though, I’ve found that choosing events is a bit more an art than a science.
Hopefully, this will help!#Speaking can be a great #marketing and #business developement tool. But is it worth it? Click To Tweet
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