Performing for Free? There's Hope...

I just got a speaking engagement in Oman!

Have you heard of that country? I hadn't. I had to go to Mapquest to see if it's near TARZANA, or some familiar place -- but this is very different.

Oman is way EAST of La Brea. Matter of fact, Oman is just east of Saudi Arabia. At first, I was nervous because, well, I have BREASTS. And, apparently in countries such as Saudi Arabia, those cost several basic human rights, including the right to drive a car. I don't understand why; they've never interfered with me making a left turn. (Well, except when my driver's seat got stuck in my Mini, but that's another story.)

I did a bit of research on Oman's culture, meaning I called my Muslim friend Dalia Mogahed who you might recall from our hilarious piece together on NPR's All Things Considered; she's become my MUSLIM GOOGLE.

(Note to self: get more Muslim friends so I don't bug Dalia every time I have a Middle East question.)

According to Dalia, Oman is the "pearl of the Middle East, and a progressive country." And, apparently it's a country with people who want to be funnier and improve their speaking skills; that's why I'm flying there. This May, I'm going on a great adventure!

So, how did they find me? From seeing me speak at a gig I did for FREE in Cincinnati at Toastmasters International.

Many pro speakers I know are SNIVELNG about clients wanting them to speak for free or for a much-reduced fee. As some clients say, "You'll get exposure." I usually say, "I catch cold from exposure."

BUT...Here's the thing: just like 40 is the new 30 -- "FREE" can be the new "FEE."

I do only FOUR pro bono speaking engagements a year, and I CAREFULLY PICK them according to a set of rules from Mimi Donaldson, a fabulous speaker in her own right, as well as a speaking coach. She's determined 7 ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL MARKETING ESSENTIALS that must be met before you accept a non-paid speaking engagement.

That due diligence often pays off for me -- in 2013, if you take into consideration product sales, additional coaching clients, and spin-off engagements, these so called free gigs have netted me over $41,000 - not to mention an upcoming vacation in Oman. Nothing to snivel about!

If you use these 7 points to pick the right groups - AND your speech not only has as great message, entertaining stories, and a sales pitch that's worked into a story - pro bono can turn into pro opportunity.

On the other hand - I do gigs for free, not always to get money, but for LOVE. Matter of fact, I'm speaking on just this topic at a FREE GET TOGETHER FOR COMICS & SPEAKERS in HONOLULU on Thursday, May 8th. Go to my Facebook Page, click "Like" and the event is listed there.


To Freebie or Not to Freebie?

That is the Question...


All speakers do freebies -- even the ones earning over $10,000 a gig. You just need to choose your freebies wisely. Professional speaker, Mimi Donaldson only agrees to free gigs if they meet her seven qualifications:


1. The topic is chosen by me and must be related to products I sell.

2. I must be able to sell my products at the event and distribute order forms before I speak to all attendees.

3. I require a 6 to 8-foot table in a prominent place where participants will be, not off in another room somewhere.

4. I require at least 40 minutes of speaking time. I tell them it's not a commercial; it's content.

5. Location corresponds to number of attendees. If the venue is within an hour drive of my house, the audience must be at least 25 people. Over an hour drive -- at least 50 people.

6. I always require an attendees list with names and emails. You grow your database, and this speech becomes your first touch with each member of the audience. Sometimes, it takes more than one touch to sell a paid speech. You can email them after the speech, and send your valuable newsletter or a report.

7. I never accept a freebie for a corporation with the hope or promise they will pay next time. They never will. Why should they? You gave it away the first time.




For detailed information on how to find your message, develop marketing materials and turn free into fee, get a copy of "The Message of You," available in Kindle and Audio.

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