Free Speech

It’s an old, stale trick. You call a well-know crowd pleaser you’d like to have as keynoter for your next event and ask her if she believes in “free speech”. When the answer is a predictable “yes”, you offer her the opportunity to come and deliver a speech – for free!

Dee Dee Myers, Suze Orman, and Sarah Palin do not have to travel around the country to give free speeches. They are handsomely compensated, whether for personal income or for charity giving. Speaking is their job and kudos to them for getting paid for what they’re good at. That’s the way it ought to be.

But, when we look at speaking as one of the three legs of a personal marketing plan (see March 7 and February 28, 2010 posts), then getting paid is not the objective.

It has often been said that if you are a speaker, you ought to publish a book and if you are an author, you ought to develop a speaking strategy. Very true, but let’s not confine our thinking to these two activities.

Among my recent clients have been a sales executive with 3 decades of global experience, a sustainability expert who is a whiz at using technology to link an enterprise’s disparate departments together, and a rocket scientist (a real one!) who speaks the language when it comes to complex partnership strategies. All three are in front of audiences frequently, none is a paid speaker, all are furthering their employers’ businesses and their own careers when they accept and execute speaking or paneling engagements.

Every time Peggy Parks, an Atlanta-based international image consultant accepts a “free speech” invitation, she attracts clients for wardrobe consultations, personal shopping expeditions or etiquette training.

When Barbara Giamanco addresses a conference break-out session’s audience, she encounters attendees who open corporate doors for her Social Media training business.

No matter whether your business is web development, cheese making, financial consulting or arranging cruise vacations, if you have the talents and skills to tell a story, there are audiences for you out there. And after they have heard from you, some will hire you to do their web site revamp, buy your cheese for their new restaurant, let you set up a savings and investment plan for their family or book an exotic cruise for their next birthday.

But if speaking does not work for you, then remember there is also writing and networking. Select the practice that best suits you and exploit it. As I’ve already said earlier: marketing is simple – you’ve just got to do it.


  1. says

    I totally agree with you. Free speech is the single most important political right of citizens. Decision-making at all levels is preceded by discussion and consideration of a representative range of views.

  2. says

    I love the idea of moving out of your comfort zone. Speaking/volunteering/mentoring is such a great way to meet and network. I find that the people I meet along the way give me so much more than I ever give them during the speaking engagement. Cheers. C.