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    Hosting an event? Speaking at an event? If so, you know having a speaker agreement is vital. Let's make sure both sides are covered by discussing what to put in your speaker agreement.

    Speaker Duties

    First up, we need to include what services the speaker will be providing. For instance, what topic will the speaker present? Will the speaker moderate a discussion? Appear on a panel? Outline what the speaker will actually *do* in this section.

    If the event will be held virtually, you can also note this here. Location may also be mentioned in other parts of the agreement.

    But here, you can state for example: 

    Speaker will present for 1 hour on the topic of business development virtually at the State of Business Conference.

    Event Details

    This section contains the nitty gritty of the agreement. You're going to include the basics such as the event name, the date and time of the event.

    Also, list the time the speaker will speak and the expected length of the talk. These are all important details that impact the event directly. Including these specifics helps ensure that both the speaker and the host have the same expectations the day of the event.

    Including the number of expected attendees is helpful too. Often speakers will not present at an event for less than a certain number of expected attendees. And the number of attendees may also correlate to the speaker's fee.

    If this is a virtual event, include the platform that the speaker will use. Be specific here as well and name the platform such as Zoom or whichever webinar or virtual conference platform that will be used. You don't want your speaker trying to log in on the wrong platform the day of the event!

    Speaker Fees / Travel Expenses

    The fee section can be pretty straightforward. In many cases the speaker will require a deposit to hold the speaking engagement. The host can then pay the speaker the balance of the fee the day of the event or within x number of days of completion of the event, say 10, 15 or 30 (whatever is negotiated between the parties).

    While the speaker could require that the balance be delivered the day of the event, they may prefer to invoice the host for payment after the talk is delivered and include any agreed upon travel related expenses.

    If travel fees are included as part of the engagement, the agreement can provide that the speaker will retain travel related receipts and the host will reimburse for those costs.

    That said, the agreement will usually specify that these travel expenses are "pre-approved." So the speaker may be authorized to expense their hotel room but not incidentals while traveling, for example.

    Speaker / Host Specifications

    If you're the speaker, you may have a list of necessities for your talk.

    ~Perhaps you need a certain type of microphone. 

    ~You need a projector with remote to show your presentation.

    ~You want a podium to discreetly rest your notes and a bottle of water.

    Note these requests in the speaker agreement so that you're in your comfort zone the day of the event.

    And on the flip side, if you're the host, you may have a requirement or two for your speaker.

    There may be a lot of tech involved, the event could be filmed and perhaps you want to choreograph the flow of speeches to ensure things go smoothly.

    You may require that your speaker does a run through of their talk the day before or maybe a few hours before start time.

    If this or other similar needs are a necessity, indicate them in this section so that both parties know what to expect ahead of time.

    Cancellations / Refunds

    Unfortunately, sometimes things happens and cancellations occur. But how do we handle refunds in this situation?

    Well, if he speaker cancels, they are usually required to return any payments received by the host within a certain period of time, say 30 days for instance. This is fairly straightforward as they did not perform, so shouldn't be paid for not delivering the services.

    On the other hand, if the host cancels the event, it's a little trickier. Whether any money paid to the speaker is returned to the host usually depends on how far in advance the host canceled.

    If the host canceled several months before the event, for example 61+ days, the contract could require the speaker to refund 75% of payments received back to the host and the speaker would pocket 25%.

    In that case, you figure that the speaker still gets 25% for their time to prep for the event and hold the time on their calendar.

    But what if the host cancels the event within 30 days of the event? Well, that's a different story. The speaker may have turned down other opportunities to be present and may suffer a lost. It's common to see the speaker retain 100% of the fee at this point and the host doesn't recoup any of the deposit.

    Force Majeure

    We just covered voluntary cancellations. Now let's look at the use of a force majeure clause that kicks into effect when it's impossible to hold the event.

    We all know what happened in 2020 and how that wrecked havoc on in-person conferences and speaking engagements everywhere.

    I don't think I've ever seen force majeure clauses get so much attention! But it was for good reason.

    Be sure to include this clause to cover those unexpected incidents. It will direct how and when the parties should cancel and how payments are handled.

    Watch the Video

    Use a Solid Speaker Agreement Template

    My Speaker Agreement Template allows either a host or a speaker to contract appearances at conferences and events with ease as it contains terms specific to public appearances.

    This template is simple to use. Fill in the blanks and you’re ready to go! It's also easily modifiable to suit needs specific to your business. Use it again and again with each new event. Event details, travel expenses, cancellation/refunds, virtual events…this template has you covered!

    To learn more about the best contracts for your business, join my email list and follow Legal Goodness on Instagram.

    This blog posting is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not provided for specific, individual legal advice.