Saturday, March 15, 2008

Worst Enemy of Professional Speakers

Really enjoyed a couple of days of inspiring speakers at the first convention organised by the Dutch Professional Speakers Association. I am one of the founding members. Although still young, I think the organisation has done a lot to start the campaign against the biggest threat to this side of the profession - the bottle of wine! As Guido Thys explained on Saturday morning, the tradition in the Netherlands is still to spend 100,000 Euros on organising a top-level conference, but nothing on a fee for the keynote speakers. So they end up with a mumbling CEO, who is then given a bottle of wine as a reward. Reminds me of people who spend 10,000 on a great hi-fi set, but buy rubbish speakers because the money ran out. You wouldn't reward a plumber or a doctor with a bottle of wine for their services, so why do meeting planners still think they can do this with speakers?

I have followed my colleagues example. I speak or chair around 5 sessions a year for free, usually for organisations which have a cause I support. The rest is always paid. To do otherwise is actually undercutting a saturated market...and devaluing the profession.

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