I used to speak for free. I no longer do so. I can attempt to write a detailed treatise on why I stopped doing so, but someone else has written a very good article that sums up my own reasons. Here are excerpts from Frank Swain’s article titled, Why I’m Not a TEDx Speaker:
I know I’m supposed to swoon a little at the idea of being an Official TEDx Speaker, that doing this will rain down confetti and job offers and fame on me. But in the end it boils down to this: TEDx is just another organisation asking me to work for free.
I’m tired of being asked to work for free. I’m tired of the bullshit idea that exposure is somehow its own reward. I’m tired of the people who can afford to do it justifying this malignant trend.
I can’t pay my rent with exposure and goodwill.
I have said it again and again that every economy grows when everyone earns an income from whatever they do. Here in Nigeria, it is even more important because we are in the process of building our economy. Everyone should be paid for whatever services they offer. Speakers should be paid. Writers too. Everyone.
In his article, Frank went on to highlight an interesting aspect of this subject:
The defence that TED is a non-profit organisation doesn’t fly with me. I doubt this excuses them from paying the lighting guys, the camera operators, the venue hire, the catering. Why pay those staff but not the speakers? Just because you’re a non-profit organisation, doesn’t mean I have to be.
Everyone but the speaker gets paid! That just doesn’t make sense. No; it doesn’t.
I have nothing much to add except to say that I do bend to accommodate event organisers who are unable to afford my fees. I ask them to make me a fair offer, and where a reasonable fee is offered, I accept to speak. But I will not speak for free.
Last week, I was asked to speak at a church service, and I agreed to do it. During the week, I was contacted and told that the pastor of the church insisted that the invitation be put on hold till further notice. Because there were no funds available to pay me a honorarium, he insisted that it would be wrong for the organising committee to invite me to speak. He made sense. That is the way it should be. The labourer is worthy of his hire.
1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn: and, The labourer is worthy of his wages.