If you desire to use speaking engagements to grow your business as I do, learning to negotiate the stage can be the difference between you having one of the biggest business days of your life and you having a day that is a disappointment.
The key focus of this blog is to help you get on your own stages (OWN) and to get on other people’s stages (OPS) so you can share your product and your message with the world and and grow your business… advance your reach! The beauty of using someone else’s stage is that they spend the money, they spend the time, and they put up all the collateral to build an audience. Some people have been building audiences for 15 or 20 years on their credibility, and their own blood, sweat, and tears, and when you stand on their stage, you get to be the beneficiary of all their hard work. You get to borrow the trust of that audience.
Not everyone in that audience is going to become your customer, but I’ll tell you this, some of them will, and your business is going to grow. That’s the power of OPS, other people’s stages. One of the keys to winning other people’s stages is to reach out to the meeting planner. But there is a RIGHT WAY to make that initial connection.
How to Negotiate the Perfect Stage
#1. Start with “You” not “I”
The biggest mistake people make when they are trying to secure a stage is that they start their communications by talking about themselves.
I want to be on your podcast.
I’m a great speaker.
I think you want me on your stage.
I wrote a book.
I’m an expert.
I have a program.
What you want to realize is that they are not there to help you.
When you reach out, always start by talking about what you know about them.
Make sure your first several sentences start with “you.”
You are doing a great thing.
You have a great event.
You are really impacting people’s lives.
Your audience is changing the world.
Bring yourself into the conversation by identifying the problem their audience has and how you can help solve it. But always start with recognizing them and the value they bring.
#2. Don’t Miss Your Negotiation Moment
After you reach out with you and your statements, it’s very likely you’re going to get a message back. When that meeting planner invites you to come and speak at their next event, you’re going to want to give them your enthusiastic “yes.” But after you say yes, you have lost the moment of negotiation.
Three Areas For Negotiation
How long would you like me to speak? Remember if they offer you 45 minutes, you can ask for 60. However, make sure you consider the perfect presentation time for you before you get to this moment.
What topic would you like me to speak on? Make sure you are speaking in your “lane” on a topic you know you can hit out of the park. You may need to negotiate the topic or find a way to work your best content into their requested topic.
How many people are you expecting at the event, and will I be speaking to all of them or to only some of them? You want to be sure to understand where you are being asked to speak and to whom. You may be told there will be 200 people at the event but be placed in a breakout session with 50 people. You may be speaking only to VIP’s at a pre-event dinner. Make sure you understand what’s being offered and ask for your target audience.
When, where, and what time am I speaking? The truth is, there are very undesirable times to speak at a conference. Be sure to understand what time slot you are speaking in and make sure that it is right for you. Try to get that Day One session when everyone is excited to be there. Another tip is to try to avoid another speaker going up right after you. You want to give that call to action, and that can be lost when another speaker immediately takes the stage after you.
This can be an awkward thing to address, but I suggest simply asking “Is there compensation for the speakers at your event?” You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to you to speak for free, or if you will request compensation. If they do not offer you payment, you can ask them if they cover your expenditures, such as your flight, hotel, parking, and food, and you can certainly ask that they cover your conference registration.
Here are some things you can negotiate into your speaking fee, or in place of a speaking fee:
· Exhibition booth or a table in the back of the room
· An ad in the program or in their marketing material
· Contact information of attendees
· To be named as a Sponsor of the event
Make sure you are clear about what opportunities are available to you as a speaker at this event. I always want to know if I can take a few minutes at the end of my talk to share with the audience the opportunities available to work further with me. If you get a yes on that, that’s licensed to sell – to make an offer. If they don’t want you to make an offer, ask if you can offer the audience free additional resources.
This is what you are after. You want to secure the opportunity to sell, to collect leads, to get the list.
Some additional points for negotiation:
· An introduction by the event host or a person of influence
· A revenue share
You can offer to split sales if you can sell from the stage and if the event host or person of influence brings validation and support to your product or service. They can do this simply by making physical contact with a handshake or a hand on your shoulder while on the stage. This sends signals of trust to your audience, shows support for what you are offering, and often promotes sales.
We’ve given you GOLD today when it comes to negotiating the perfect stage.
Remember, don’t just give your immediate YES because you’re desperate for that speaking engagement. Be clear on what you want to get out of the experience and come to the conversation prepared for the negotiation.
Remember, Your Message Matters!
– Pat Quinn