by Allison Pollard
Becoming a great speaker is a lot of work. You wonder why someone would do it. While people’s personal reasons vary, there are some common themes. In our experience, it’s not because people want to get rich or become famous.
One reason to speak is to defray the cost of attending events. Most conferences waive registration fees for speakers, and some cover hotel or travel costs. A few events might pay a speaker, particularly if they are offering a longer workshop session or multiple topics. A speaker may be paying some costs out of pocket, but less than if they were a regular attendee. When submitting to speak at a conference, find out what will be covered. If you might speak at an out of town event, ask if your travel costs will be reimbursed.
Another reason some people speak is to share information based on the practice and experience they’ve gained. They’ve learned something new that was impactful to them and want others to learn it too. It could be almost anything: a skill, a model, a technique to use with teams… It could be a well-known concept that the speaker has embraced and applied in a meaningful way.
Sharing research can also be a reason to present. The data and findings are likely relevant to many of the event’s attendees. Interest in the research may be boosted as a result of the presentation, and new opportunities to further the research may be created.
Speakers may feel that they are spreading an important message. A talk can be a way of inspiring change, and they have a mission. The world will be better for hearing their words. Presenting is one way that they hope to fulfill their mission.
Similarly, presenters may desire to pay it forward to the community. We learned from those who came before us—those who wrote the books, gave the talks, and provided the advice that helped us get to where we are now. Sharing our wisdom can help future generations in their journeys.
Lastly, people might wish to speak for exposure. Presenting at events is a form of marketing, and it can be beneficial for consultants, trainers, and potential job seekers. We’ve seen new opportunities and collaborations result from speaking events. Connections that enable future job changes can form. Some people advance in their careers partly due to their involvement in the greater community.