Somethin’ for Nothin’ from The Toastmasters


Let me set up some background on this one. For those of you that don’t know me personally, I’m a professional speaker. In other words, a portion of my living that provides food for my table, toys for my kids, and golf balls to hit people’s houses with comes from speaking fees. I incur this in several ways. The majority of it comes from lectures delivered at conferences. Other parts come from teaching workshops and university classes.

To help my mom with her fear of public speaking I talked her into joining a Toastmasters group with me. It’s great fun. I enjoy seeing my mom break out of her shell speaking in front of people, and it’s great practice for me. I often practice new speeches in front of my local group before I debut them in front of a large audience.

Our group has a state competition every year and they ask for presenters to assist at the conference. Here’s the specs straight from the Call for Presentations…

                        Speaker Fees:  We look for contributors who are willing to share their expertise without expectation of payment in the spirit of networking and contributing to the Toastmasters community throughout the district.

                        Travel expenses:  Travel to and from the conference location, including hotel lodging, meals, etc. will be your responsibility.

                        Conference Registration:  Conference registration fees will not be waived for presenters. All presenters must register to attend the conference.

I’ll sum it up for you. “Don’t expect payment. Get here on your own. Pay us for the privilege of being here.”

Wow! I’m not sure if this makes as much an impression on you as me, but it bothers me a bit. Bear in mind that this is an organization whose purpose is to further the act of public speaking around the world. They do a great job at that, so it seems odd that they would then turn around and make the point that one should not attempt to make a living from it.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. It just irks me a bit when people are over-asked to give away their talents and skills.

Standard behavior at other conferences I’ve spoken at usually includes the following- pay for speaking, travel expenses covered, and free registration at all conference functions.  It’s just professional courtesy, and I would expect more from a professional organization.

Disclaimer- In case you’re wondering, I’m not just writing this because they wouldn’t let me speak. I promise.

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2 thoughts on “Somethin’ for Nothin’ from The Toastmasters

  1. Via Facebook- Jim wrote: “” I don’t take a piss without getting paid. People expect everything for nothing. But is Warner Brothers out there with an eye patch and a tin can on the street? They expect the writer to work for nothing and the problem [is] there are so many ****** writers who have no idea they’re supposed to get paid every time they do something. They do it for nothing. Are they any less a media whore than I? I think not. But it’s just that no one has offered to buy their soul. — IMDb Quotes: Harlan Ellison “”

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