[FAQ] Should I speak for free?

Frequently Asked Questions about Speaking for Free
by Mary Cravets, Client Generation Expert

  1. Doesn’t speaking for free devalue my expertise?

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Not when you are intentional about your strategy. I’ve been speaking for free for over 7 years and am now a nationally recognized expert, highly appreciated for my willingness to show up and give my time. In no way does this feel like I am devaluing my expertise… especially because every year for the last four years I’ve generated over 6 figures in revenue from unpaid speaking.


I’ve seen a lot of people decide they absolutely must get paid upfront for speaking, and it often holds them back. They get intimidated by the highly competitive space, which results in getting no experience and generating no revenue. They stay safely (but frustratedly) in their comfort zone.

I don’t know if it’s self-sabotage or they heard an expert say you have to get paid in order to be legit, but I do know that there is a solid way to make an impact and income through unpaid speaking.

I’ve done it. My clients have done it. It just means being wicked strategic and totally committed to making an impact… even if it takes you WAY outside your comfort zone. I share solid tools about how to make this leap this in my upcoming webinar.

2. How do I make money speaking for free?
Let me start with a fundamental understanding: you must receive

compensation in exchange for sharing your expertise. Otherwise, you are volunteering your time. Which is absolutely fine, IF you are not looking for speaking to be a profitable strategy in your business.

In a paid speaking engagement, you are compensated with money.

For an unpaid engagement, fair compensation is the opportunity to invite the audience to work with your further. The way you make money from unpaid speaking is simply from generating new business, usually in the form of new clients.

I go more deeply into how to do this in my upcoming webinar, Generate More Clients from Unpaid Speaking Gigs.

3. When should I NOT take an unpaid gig?

Since your compensation is the opportunity to invite the audience to work with you further, don’t take gigs when:

The audience doesn’t contain your ideal client. Since your presentation is about offering value as opposed to a sales pitch to convince people of something, if an unpaid gig doesn’t contain your ideal client, you have no opportunity for compensation.

The group wants you to change your talk topic or title. Your talk must be designed to attract your ideal clients. When you change your talk topic or title, it dilutes your strategy of speaking to what is important to your ideal client, which reduces your chances of attracting clients to the audience and to your offer.

The group doesn’t allow you to make an offer. If you cannot take a minute or two to introduce your services and how people can take the next step if they are interested, you are unlikely to generate clients. Remember: you must have the opportunity to receive compensation, and not being able to make an offer shuts the door to that opportunity.

4. So… does that mean the presentation is more like a teaser where I don’t give a lot of information just so I can make a sales pitch?

Absolutely not! (takes a deep breath…) If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s a talk that is designed simply to showcase a speaker’s agenda for the purposes of selling. It’s so obvious and clumsy and inauthentic. When I see speakers go this route, I just cringe and wish I could sit down with them and show them a better way.

When you speak for free, set the goal of providing value to the audience whether or not they choose to work with you further. Got that?

SIDE NOTE: my top value is Impact. I absolutely could not show up in front of an audience and not provide transformation. And I wouldn’t expect you to, either. It’s not how we’re built!

When you speak for free, you have to connect with your audience, build rapport, provide solid value, create curiosity and desire, and invite them to work with you further. It’s a lot to do in one talk, so it’s critically important that you don’t try to wing it.

Join my webinar, Generate More Clients from Unpaid Speaking Gigs and I’ll teach you what to do before, during and after an unpaid speaking gig so you can grow your business!

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Mary Cravets

Founder Mary Cravets started Simply Get Clients because she saw small business owners complicating growing their businesses. Or falling victim to the "build it and they will come" myth. So she developed the simple structure to cut through all the noise of social media, "experts", online funnels, advertising and more to focus on the central problem of business owners: getting more clients. And you know what? There is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution.

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