Addition October 30, 2014: in comments a meaty discussion has started on a subject that’s related but different – NDA’s (Non-Disclosure Agreements). They rarely arise in speaking engagements but they can often be part of “the business of patient engagement.” Have a look if you’re interested.
This is the latest in the Speaker Academy series, which started here. The series is addressed to patients and advocates who basically know how to give a talk but want to make a business out of it. I’ll try to be clear to all readers, but parts may assume you’ve read earlier entries.
I’m at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 25th annual forum in Orlando, participating in a day of patient speaker training. In side conversations one thing that came up is the business relationship: getting paid. And that starts with the contract.
Do you need a contract?
Contracts weren’t important for me when I had few engagements and little pay. But when things got busy I needed structure. The contract I use (at right) provides:
- A clear record of logistical details: where, when, arrival & departure, how you can list it, etc.
- A clear record of finances: fee, expense reimbursement, and down payment
- Who’s expected to be in the audience. (Today one speaker told of a case where she was sure an audience would be nurses, and found out at the last minute it was patient advisors!)
And of course in the rare case where a relationship goes sour, the contract records who owes what to whom. It’s not that you’ll end up in court – to the contrary, it keeps you out of court, because the rules are already in writing.
I also added sections for things that kept popping up as problems:
- I need to use my own computer, not theirs.
- I don’t want to distribute my slides in advance.
- Instructions on proper spelling of my name (more of a problem for me than for most people!)
- If you record it for your future use, I get a copy for my future use (on my website). I use these on my videos page, for marketing and to educate any visitors who want to watch.
The non-refundable down payment is an important business term. The client is asking you to say no to any future invitations, and you need to be protected if their situation changes. Plus, in rare circumstances, three big problems have been known to pop up:
- The person you were talking to doesn’t really have permission to spend the money. Yikes!
- The person you talk to may be great, but the people who write checks might be jerks who take forever to pay. Yikes!
- The client’s plans change, and they decide to cancel the event. (This one happened to me just last month.)
All three are detected quite fast if the client doesn’t come through with the down payment. That’s MUCH better than discovering it at the event or after. So ask for a down payment, and follow up on it. There’s rarely a problem, but when there is, you want to know soon.
Click the image at right to download a PDF of the fill-in-the-blanks contract template I use. The original is a Word file – if you want a copy of it to modify, contact me. (Being a typesetter, I made it a fancy layout, but you don’t have to. Plain text is fine.)
p.s. Re giving them your slides: they may ask for your slides, but that doesn’t mean the whole PowerPoint. Instead, save it as a PDF of handouts. If you don’t know how to do that, ask in comments.