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Top contractual things to look for when booking a speaking engagement

ned speaking engagement (paid or not) should always be accompanied with a contract – for multiple reasons.   Contracts work to hold each other contractually responsible, identify roles, reduce miscommunication and ensure parties have a platform to refer to in order to clear any potential or existing issues.

Note: Provisions will vary depending on the specifics of the speaking event – this is baseline guidance.


Speaker Fee

This outlines if there will be a speaker fee and how much it will be, as well as how this will be remitted to the speaker. Often this section is paired or refers to the services/products section outlining what the speaker will provide for the hosting event.

It is important to note that lack of speaker fee does not negate the need for a contract.

Travel & Lodging Arrangements

This section is pretty self explanatory but is important in relaying the required arrival and departure times by the speaking event, as well the details of any provided travel and lodging arrangements.  Large speaking conferences typically have a set lodging and travel amount and will either

(1) have the speaker book within a set of requirements then submit for reimbursement


(2) have a travel agent to work with the speaker to book the arrangements within the requirements but at the preferences of the speaker.

Speaker Agreement Contract Template
This speaker contract is for between the host of an event, such as a workshop or conference, and the speaker being hired to perform services at the event.

Potential for Marketing

Going to an event is a perfect opportunity for expanding exposure and selling your products and services if allowed.  The speaker contract and other communications will provide information on whether sales pitches, table set ups, and other product displays are allowed.  Typically a “hard-sell” will be deterred but this does not prevent mentioning of speaker items and reference to the online site for resource (such as for slides or handouts from the event).

Sponsorship Requirements

In lieu of speaking fees, sponsorship by external companies may be required. If this is the case, the contract will outline requirements and details to help the speaker secure sponsorship.  Often these sponsorships are monetarily paid to the speaker in exchange for logo placement and presentation on the speaker website, on-site signage and other handout materials.

Licensing of Material

This can also be a long heading and terminology of “Intellectual Property Rights and License” and defines who owns the material once it is presented, especially if the speaker is being hired for a recorded type event. As speakers, the content provided is a livelihood and should be protected as such.


No one likes to think that cancellations may occur but life, miscommunication, and other issues happen. It is important to know who can cancel, under what circumstances, and what the penalties are. It is never recommended that Speakers engage to speak under a cancellation provision that allows unfettered cancellation without damages to the Speaker. This can lead to a last minute cancellation time that a speaker is unable to fill with a new speaking engagement.

This list is not all inclusive but is a good starting point checklist to use and understand the speaker fee contract you are reviewing before committing. Other standard provisions many contracts should have include list of services, indemnification, remedies, governing law, and construction.

Top contractual things to look for when booking a speaking engagement

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