Why Speaker Agreements Are a TERRIBLE Idea

Why Speaker Agreements Are a TERRIBLE Idea
Business and marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn explains why asking your webinar or telesummit guests to sign a contract can do much more damage than good.

Webinars. Teleseminars. Telesummits.

Whatever you call them, they’re all fundamentally the same in that they are online events used as promotional tools for products offered by the event organiser. Typically, the public can listen to these events for free, but there is inevitably some kind of ‘upsell’ (i.e. a sales pitch) during the broadcast for the product being promoted.

Sometimes they take the form of teaching or training sessions delivered by the event host. Other times, the event is comprised of a series of interviews with various experts on a specific topic. Over the past decade, I have organised dozens of these kinds of events, for my clients as well as for my own business. I also get asked regularly to be a guest speaker on other people’s online events. On average, I’d say I get about 20 requests a year.

It’s in that capacity that I wanted to share some thoughts I penned this week when writing Chapter 17 of my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging. This chapter is about using your blog for marketing campaigns. In writing it, I found myself getting really involved in the subject, as I was expressing all my thoughts and feelings about product/book launch campaigns – both as an organiser and a participant in other people’s launches.

While writing it, one of the things I realised I REALLY hated about being asked to be a guest speaker on other people’s events is being asked to sign a…


Speaker agreements are essentially disclaimers, where the speaker agrees to participate in promotions and acknowledges that they waive any rights to the recordings of their interview.

When it comes to marketing, I’m a big believer in the Golden Rule: I don’t do to others what I hate being done to me. I loathe it when an event organiser asks me to sign a contract to speak on their online event. Hence, I never ask speakers to sign a contract for an event I am organising. You might disagree and think it looks more ‘professional’ to have such a contract. But if you look beneath the surface and consider its impact on the relationship you have (and are building) with your speakers, you’ll see how pointless and potentially damaging it can be to ask your speakers to sign an agreement.

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

    • It’s unnecessary. No experienced guest speaker is going to ‘steal’ your recordings. Conversely, just because someone signs a contract saying they’ll promote your event, this doesn’t mean they’ll actually do it.
    • It’s nonsense. There is nothing legal about such an agreement because it’s completely unenforceable. In the unlikely event that someone doesn’t abide by the terms of the contract, to whom are you going to report it? How would you receive compensation? Even if there were a way to take them to court, what are you trying to receive as compensation? What are the actual damages? Would they even come close to covering the legal fees of taking someone to court?
    • It is incongruent with the relationship you have with your speakers. Your speakers are not your employees. They are your PEERS. In fact, they might even have a much more established profession reputation than you. Requiring them to sign a contract suggests you are taking a superior position.
    • It shows a lack of respect and trust. The reason you invited your speakers is that they are revered in their field. Some of them might have done many more such events than you have. Asking them to sign a contract is kind of an insult, and shows you don’t trust them to do their bit.
    • It shows a lack of gratitude. Always remember this: by agreeing to speak on your event, your speakers are doing you a favour! Chances are you have much more to gain from their appearance than they do. Asking them to sign a contract implies they should be grateful to YOU.
    • It is a sure-fire way to sabotage your event. Ironically, asking your guests to sign a contract agreeing to promote your event is more likely to have the opposite People only promote other people’s launches when they feel motivated. Taking a superior attitude, and showing a lack of respect, trust and gratitude, will only demotivate your speakers, and they will be less likely to put much energy or authenticity into your promotions.

I think, rather than asking your guests to sign a contract, simply explain all the details clearly and transparently in an email. Don’t make it too wordy – and do NOT make it demanding! For these kinds of events, their written email confirmation to you is all the ‘contract’ you should need. It is never their responsibility to support you, and if you take this attitude with your speakers, you are bound to destroy whatever relationship you might have had with them. Rather, it is your responsibility to ensure they have all the information and motivation they need to make it easy – and pleasant – for them to support your promotions.

To me, it’s all about the bigger picture. Whether we’re talking about business or life in general, people are always more important than ‘things’. Losing the friendship and rapport with your speakers is, in the long-term, a much greater loss to you, your business and your reputation than a few paltry sales you might make in the shorter timeframe.

Ok. I’ve shared my two pence worth on the topic. Now, what’s your view? I look forward to hearing your comments below.

Stay warm and close to those your love during the upcoming holidays. And feel free to drop me a line via the contact form on this site if you’d like to talk about how our business and marketing services at the 7 Graces of Marketing can help you deepen your relationships with your audience, your colleagues and your business in 2016.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
18 December 2015

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Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, an independent marketing consultancy created to support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their businesses ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

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