What to expect when a conference organiser or client hires a Professional Speaker or Presenter – Speaker Ethics
When a client hires a Professional Speaker – they have paid a fee and expect a professional performance and ethics.
Speakers should AVOID getting any kind of complaints from clients – especially complaints about lack of responsiveness, being disliked by the audience, completely off topic/brief, rudeness (swearing), making sexist, discriminatory or racist comments.
Being ‘easy to work with’ as a speaker ensures consideration for repeat business and more ‘word of mouth’ promotion.
A speaker who acts like a ‘prima donna’ means they may NOT get rebooked by the client and the speaker’s reputation will probably be damaged by poor feedback within the industry.
A Recommended Code of Conduct and Ethics for Professional Speakers
Here are some suggestions for better results …
- Deliver “as promised” and do as instructed in the brief
- Have Integrity – Don’t withdraw or cancel any deposited Booked events for a better gig and have a documented policy for being “on hold” for an event.
- Be ON TIME for a set time – arrive at least 1 hour early – not at the last minute.
- Let the organiser know you have ARRIVED at the venue – send an SMS.
- Speak for your allotted TIMESLOT – don’t steal other speakers time (finish a bit early).
- Don’t CRITICIZE or ridicule any clients, organisers or your speaking colleagues
- Avoid making COMPLAINTS about your bureau to the client – or discussing confidential fees and bureau commissions
- Avoid being RUDE – sleazy, sexist, racist, ageist or fattist etc
- Go EASY on any unreasonable riders or special requirements
- Avoid using other peoples material (plagiarised signature stories and jokes from the web)
- Respect COPYRIGHT Ownership – Only use videos, music, pictures and cartoons that you created or have a licence for
- Be clear up front about what can and cannot be RECORDED on video or audio, used by the client internally and/or distributed online.
- Be clear up front what you are willing to do or NOT do on the day – if EXTRAS are not in the speaker contract it probably won’t happen – especially for celebrity speakers.
The Ethics of Travel Costs – Being Reasonable with Your Travel Expenses
- Be reasonable on the use of taxis and limos – DIRECT travel expenses please
- Be restrained on MEALS and DRINKS – don’t abuse the minibar or charge bottles of alcohol to client.
- Be frugal with AIR TRAVEL – The cost of Airfares are a BIG deal for some clients – business class fares may just be too much – booking an exit row or economy plus are other options. Some WA and NZ Speakers cover their fares to the East Coast of Australia to get more work. Other speakers include travel in their fee.
- Clients may pay for GROUND TRANSPORT to and from the venue – this does NOT mean they should pay for extra tours of the city for many other stops or meetings. Some clients prefer you use an Uber rather than a Limo.
Things Clients Really Like – Adding value as a Speaker
- Contacting the client for an advanced BRIEFING and an update closer to the event
- Creating a promotional VIDEO for the event for distribution
- Assisting PROMOTING their event online via social channels, newsletter or website
- Writing a GREAT session intro, bio and title that sells the ‘sizzle’
- Bringing a SPARE everything – bio, intro, cables, clicker and presentation on USB
- Researching and contacting ATTENDEES before the event (a mystery shop?)
- Following up Pre & Post conference with client and bureau consultant
- Finding out beforehand whether you can use PowerPoint, Apple keynote or Prezi and about screen resolution – 4×3 or 16×9 (wide) or other
- Learning the basics of the AV department and getting to know the TOD (technician on Duty) – bring all the adapters that you need
- Advance NOTICE of any special requirements like music, video, lapel mike, flipchart or other technology
- Letting the conference organiser you have ARRIVED in the city and/or are on the way to the venue. Send an SMS in advance of arrival to reduce their stress levels.
Professional Speakers Australia Ethics – The Code of Conduct
Members of Professional Speakers Australia (PSA) – must also comply with PSA Speakers Code of Professional Conduct
- Article 1 – A member shall accurately represent qualifications and experience in both oral and written communications.
- Article 2 – A member shall act and speak on a high professional level so as to neither offend nor bring discredit to the speaking profession.
- Article 3 – A member shall exert due diligence in understanding a clients’ organisation, approaches and goals in advance of a presentation.
- Article 4 – A member shall avoid using materials, titles and thematic creations originated by others, either orally or in writing, unless all appropriate permission has been granted or recognition in compliance with the laws of copyright is given to the author.
- Article 5 – A member is encouraged to share knowledge and experience with others.
- Article 6 – A member shall treat other speakers with professional courtesy and dignity.
- Article 7 – A member shall limit services to those areas in which the member is qualified to serve, taking into consideration available opportunities for the member to develop new materials or undertake new fields. When unable or unqualified to fulfil requests for presentations, the member shall make every effort to recommend the services of other qualified speakers, agencies or bureau.
- Article 8 – A member shall maintain the trust of clients, and fidelity concerning their business or personal affairs of a client, agents and other speakers who may reveal confidential information.
- Article 9 – A member shall protect the public against fraud or unfair practices and shall attempt to eliminate from the speaking profession all practices which bring discredit to the profession.
- Article 10 – A member shall not be a party to any agreement to unfairly limit or restrain access to the marketplace by any other speaker, client or the public, based upon economics factors, race, creed colour, sex, age, physical or intellectual disability or the country of national origin of another speaker.
You can download the PSA Code of Conduct document here
Beware of speakers who are NOT a member of PSA and NOT booked through a Speaker Bureau as there may be little you can control if they choose poor behaviours and ethics.
If a speaker breeches the code of conduct or ethics – you can make a complaint to PSA or to the Speakers Bureau that you used to book them.
ABOUT THE BLOG AUTHOR – David Staughton CSP
David “Big Dave” Staughton is an Award-winning Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with over 15 years of professional speaking & consulting experience. He is a past board member of Professional Speakers Australia and an advisor to a large Australian speakers bureau.
Big Hat Professional Services provides Online Workshops, Webinars and Coaching on Business Strategy, Sales and Service using Certified Speakers and Trainers.
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