Monday, March 16, 2015

paying speakers

Thee was some grumbling last week in the comments for this AAM post regarding payment to speakers. Some people were upset that the original poster was trying to get free speakers, and implied that this was similar to not paying interns.

I've been both a free speaker, and the person trying to arrange other free presentations. Here's the thing: in both situations, at least in my line of work, the speaker is getting paid, just not by the organization they're presenting to. A technical presentation is a form of marketing, and is usually budgeted as such.

My vendors love to give sales pitches presentations, and I'm ok with that, as long as the presentation has some reasonable technical meat. Making it a "lunch presentation" and having the vendor spring for pizza also works.

Because I'm on the consulting side of things, I'm not usually selling a particular product in my presentations. But if I've worked on a cool project and learned something useful, and I share it in some sort of public forum, I'm educating others and also keep my name out there as a smart person who does interesting stuff. Sometimes I present at conferences, and sometimes a big client will request a presentation for their own technical staff. I'm paid for my time (more or less) by my organization, and I may get a conference discount, but I'm not getting anything more.

Of course, sometimes I do volunteer. Maybe it's for a science career fair at the nearby high school, or they're short a speaker for the local branch of a geological/environmental society meeting. But it's not something that's keeping me from my paying job.

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