Panelists and payments

Should speakers get an honorarium? Comped conference fees? Airfare and hotel? Nada? The whole topic of how and if speakers get paid is a recurring theme among some folks who speak at industry events and meeting planners. Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine represents one side of the story with this rant about being offered a "special one-day registration rate" as recompense for being on a panel at an association show:

    What incredible nerve. Though it may be worth the price of admission to see me sitting on the same panel with Roger Simon of PJ media, I nonetheless had a patented Jarvis conniption.

    We as panelists come as their trained monkeys to give these conference organizers the only damned content they have and they expect us to pay for the bananas? Well, peel this!

    It’s time for panelists everywhere to unionize, to rise up and form the International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Amalgamated Blatherers, Local 1. We demand free nametags — with ribbons. We demand good bottled water on the table. We demand decent swag briefcases made of real fabric or leather, no plastic. And we demand a cut of the gate.

But Hugh at Gaping Void says it's worth his while to speak for free, because of the indirect payback he gets:

    I don't charge for speaking. Sometimes I'll get them to pay for the hotel and the plane fare. I figure every time I go to one of these things, it'll lead to something else down the line- a paid gig, an English Cut sale, whatever.

It's up to every person to decide for themselves, of course, but if someone was asking me to actually pay to provide content for their meeting, well, as someone who makes a living being paid to provide content, I think I'd just say no. Then again, I'm no speaker.

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