It's somehow January again and already a lot of events, festivals and trade shows are busy recruiting speakers for their lineups in the coming weeks and months. I've been fortunate enough to have been asked to participate in quite a few already but this year I thought I'd take a different approach to ensure I can make a really positive impact when I'm up there spouting on about myself.
I get asked to do a lot of these over the course of the year, and as flattering as it is, it sometimes gets to the point where saying yes to them all would mean doing one every other week, which is kind of unsustainable for lots of reasons. I feel very privileged to get asked to do these kind of things but I'm also acutely aware that you can very quickly do little else besides and that's never gonna end well.
It's also incredibly difficult to say no to these events without offending the people who are orgainsing them. In the past I've said I can't make the date but then they offer me another date. If I say I just don't want to do it, things just get really awkward and I'm not in the business of pissing people off unnecessarily. There was a time when I just said yes to everything but then that usually ends up with me in a situation where I'm half-assing it and then nobody really benefits from that.
The other alternative is to charge a fee but that never really sat right with me. I do a lot of international events which have a budget and large financial backing but when the event is more local or not coffee focused, a request for money would more often be construed as, well, greedy. The other side of that is that I've spoken at a number events pro-bono all the while knowing that the organisers were absolutely coining it on the gate receipts.
With that in mind I recently decided that I need to have a filter to reduce the amount of events that I have lined up so I can do a better job of them, and also create some tangible benefit for a worthy cause.
So this week I set up a gofundme and now request a donation €500 be made which I will in turn pass on its entirety to the National Maternity Hospital Foundation. Its good for the organisers because it's tax deductible, its good for me cause I don't have too many events to do and its obviously good for the Maternity Hospital who do really incredible work thats worthy of support.
Already this month I've raised €1,000 and I've set myself a target of €10,000 for 2019 which I think is more than achievable. If I fall short of the target, I will make up the deficit out of my own pocket, and you can hold me to that!
As well as setting the target I've also compiled a short list of criteria to send out to organisers so that I can be assured that the event is going to be properly run and everyone gets something worth seeing. I've learned a few hard lessons over the years attending these kind of events so I'm listing them here so others might use the criteria themselves if they're similarly approached to do an event.
Hopefully this ensures some people reading this will have a less painful learning curve than I've endured over the years.
- Where and when is the event?
- Have you any topics/themes that you would like me to speak on?
- How long and at which stage of proceedings do you wish me to speak?
- How many speakers are there and what is the gender balance of the lineup?- Are there any title sponsors for the event?
- Will there be accommodation provided?
- How many people will be in attendance?
- Will there be a screen that I can use for the presentation?
- Is there a microphone and speaker system?
I hope to run some other events/initiatives this year to raise further funds for NMHF and that might just possibly culminate in some kind of outdoorsy running/cycling thing at the end of December. Also, at the end of every speaking event this year I will also let the audience know about the gofundme campaign so they too can contribute if they so wish.
Seen as you've read this far, you might also consider chucking a few euro into the kitty for a cause that my family and I are forever indebted to.
p.s. If you'd like me to speak at your event or do some other activity that would warrant a donation please do contact firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll see if I can help out.