Saturday, September 23, 2006


What I Learned in Kansas

So, I spent the last few days in Kansas speaking to the folks at NEKLS. (Who, by the way, treat their speakers quite nicely, down to a little gift bag including chocolate -- yay!) While there, I learned a few things:
So, to sum it up -- Kansas, good. Airport delays, bad. Those of you still reading, don't be surprised, when I'm surprised.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Ten Do's and Don'ts for Conference, Workshop, and Program Organizers

In honor of Michael Stephens and his fondness for Top Ten lists -- and apropos of the earlier discussion on honoraria -- I'd like to present a list of do's and dont's for conference, workshop, and program organizers. In no particular order, these stem from my own expereriences as a speaker.

Ten Do's and Don'ts for Conference, Workshop, and Program Organizers

1) DO get it in writing. If your association/conference/organization has a formal contract/letter of agreement, use it. If not, make your own. If this gives you pause, ask the presenter to send you a letter of agreement. Mail this out as soon as you and the speaker agree on the details.

In your contract or letter, include all pertinent information, such as:
2) DO sweat the small stuff. If your presenter is coming from out of state, who will pick her up at the airport? Or, should she take a cab? Will your organization reimburse her for cabs? Who will make and pay for the travel and lodging arrangements? Is there a luncheon/dinner/reception to which you can wrangle her an invitation? If not, do you have some time free to join her for dinner/lunch/breakfast? (This is a nice touch, especially when dealing with an out-of-state speaker who may not know anyone at your event.) Who will be responsible for reproducing handouts? Does your organization/association require a formal invoice or reimbursement form?

3) DON'T change your mind at the last minute. If you have contracted for a given workshop or presentation, refrain from asking your presenter to change topics or format; she's probably already prepared as per your original agreement.

4) DO respond to e-mail or phone calls in a timely fashion. Answer questions honestly. If you don't have an answer, give an estimate as to when you can get details from your boss/committee chair/program organizers.

5) DON'T be afraid to talk money. If you want to know what someone charges, ask. If you have a specific amount allocated for an honorarium, offer. If you have a policy of not compensating speakers, say so. If a presenter comes back with a number that is out of your budget, make a counteroffer. If you require a presenter to pay her own conference registration, make this clear up-front.

6) DO be specific as to what you're looking for. If you have a particular topic or focus in mind, say so. If you have a specific time slot to fill, let your speaker know. If you expect or intend to advertise to a certain type of audience (LIS students, public librarians), tell her at the outset.

7) DO keep your speaker updated as your knowledge about an event progresses. Do you have 20 people signed up? 50? 100? The size of an audience can make a difference in the tone and type of presentation. Finalize a venue? Pass the information on. Have similar programs or panels scheduled the same day? Let her know, so she can avoid duplicating their content.

8) DON'T leave a potential presenter hanging. Be sure to get back to every potential presenter you contact, even if the answer is no. If you bring a program proposal to a committee and it doesn't make the cut, or you find you can't afford a speaker's quoted fees, or your budget has been cut, tell her as soon as you find out. This allows her to clear her calendar and move on.

9) DON'T be afraid to ask for references. If you know a potential speaker only by her writing or a listing or a resume or a program description, but think you might be interested, ask for references from recent events. By the same token, be willing to be a reference for someone who's done a good job for you.

10) DO talk up a good speaker. Presenters get new gigs through word-of-mouth -- if someone does a great job for you, recommend her to others.

These are my tips -- what are yours?

Friday, September 08, 2006


Speaking Survey

I was chatting this morning with another librarian about giving conference presentations & workshops. When we took the bold step of talking about what we charge, it confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I've been somewhat undervaluing myself. (Of course, some of you who have heard me speak might beg to differ! ;)) I think a lot of us in librarianship do.

One problem here is, of course, that people are somewhat loath to share what they charge until a program organizer asks; like anything else having to do with money, talking numbers makes us all squeamish. Another is that many of us speak for free or for minimal compensation, in return for some intangible benefit (professional development, tenure requirements, whuffie), or we choose to donate our time and efforts in some circumstances (to an alma mater, to a specific group whose cause we believe in, to online conferences that let people attend for free, to promote our institution).

Nonetheless, I've thrown together a short online survey to try to establish an average range. If you speak at conferences, do workshops, or otherwise present to library groups, please take a minute to fill it out, and I'll share results here at a later date. The survey is deliberately anonymous, to encourage honesty in responses. If you have comments, post them here -- anonymously or otherwise.

Hopefully, this will be of use to anyone who's ever been asked what they charge to speak, or who isn't sure they CAN charge. Please feel free to pass on this post and/or the survey link.