My Ideal Speaking Client

Thoughts on a recent gig.

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I flew to the midwest United States to give a keynote talk on my most recent book. The process went so smoothly that I wanted a write a post what turned out to be my ideal speaking client.

Decisiveness

The folks at this organization did not dilly-dally. The decision makers had clearly read both my book and my Working with Me page. I was their guy and management wanted to pull the trigger fairly quickly. In other words, my client did not string me along for months on end.

Flexibility on Dates and Travel

Based on my teaching schedule this semester, with rare exception, I can only speak on Tuesdays and Thursdays.1 Against that backdrop, my client worked with me to find a suitable date.

Beyond dates, I prefer a business-class seat for any flight over an hour. I’ve sat on the tarmac in the middle seat in coach for two hours and it’s just not pleasant. Again, my client accommodated my request.  

Rates and Initial Payment

I’m not the cheapest speaker out there but my rates are certainly consistent with those in my cohort. I threw out a number that felt right and my client didn’t try to nickel-and-dime me. 

I don’t consider a speaking gig finalized until two things happen:

  • I receive a signed contract.
  • I receive a payment of 50 percent of my fee within fifteen days of the former.

True to form, my client promptly issued payment. As a result, I booked my travel the very same day.

Pre-Talk Communication

I don’t just show up to give a canned talk. I’m a big believer in tweaking the content to meet the needs of my clients. Again, this went off without a hitch.

Second Payment

Although my standard contract calls for the second payment within 30 days after I speak, I was surprised to find that check in my mailbox a few days before I was supposed to leave. My client also reimbursed me for the plane ticket to boot.

Additional Travel Flexibility

The day that I was supposed to fly to the midwest looked ominous because of the polar vortex. My client didn’t want me sitting at the airport for five hours and possibly arriving at 2 a.m. on the day that I was supposed to speak—and neither did I. 

 

Video from VICE.

As a result, my contact and I decided to reschedule the talk for the following week. Lest you think that this was trivial, rescheduling meant getting on the calendars of the top 25 people at the organization.

Hospitality

I’m happy to take a Lyft2 to and from the hotel and airport. Still, it’s just easier if my client arranges for ground transportation ahead of time—and that’s exactly what happened here. No, I don’t need a limo, but a nice, clean car with a friendly driver makes the travel more enjoyable.

As is my custom, I brought two signed copies of the new book for my client: one for my primary contact and one for the CEO. I was pleased to see some swag from the company including a branded winter hat. The latter couldn’t have been more timely because I forgot to bring my own. 

Remaining Expenses and Follow-Up

I submitted my expenses as soon as I returned home. (Thank you Expensify.) Four days later, I found the final check in my mailbox along with a  heartfelt thank-you note from my primary contact. 

Simon Says

For each speaking gig, I want to do the best job possible for my client. When an organization treats me this well, though, how can I not want to go above and beyond? If only all of my gigs went as smoothly as this one.

Feedback

What say you?

Footnotes

  1. ASU professors can only cancel classes in the event of emergencies.
  2. Never Uber.

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