The Pay for Play Model in Public Speaking: Help, Hinderance or Hallucinations? 🤔

If you’ve been speaking professionally for any length of time, you know that the behind the scenes can be pretty treacherous terrain. I mean you can be the best speaker but without exposure and experience your speaking career is dead in the water. Don’t forget media one sheets, speaker reels and websites. The cost tends to start adding up before you even begin.

Then you get that big break or so you thought………….you find out that they want to pay a speaker fee to be a speaker at an event. I’ve found that speaker fees can vary GREATLY depending on the caliber of the event, the popularity of the organizer or even the amount of exposure that you’ll receive. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that a speaker who invests in the opportunity is also invested in the experience but that is not always true. One concern I have is when the event does not live up to the investment.

Here is my personal take on this whole Pay for Play model in Public Speaking. There are three ways in which this investment can go:




The difference will be determined by the exposure received, your ability to sell from the stage and your opportunity to learn. Oh and don’t forget the perks from being in front of different audiences. It adds up depending on how you are counting.


I find that event organizers that are looking to grow people are always teaching. Your experience with them will include some sort of training, words of wisdom and critiques. These mini training sessions are valuable (one of the reasons I’m always telling my clients to carry a pen and paper at all times) and they may come at any moment.

You’ll be able to look back on these moments of help as pivotal moments of increase in your business, your life and in business relationships. Show appreciation to those who will sow into you in such a meaningful way.


So here is where things start to get sticky………literally. Some speakers stay connected to that one opportunity. They lack the networking to build with and end up speaking at one event every year for five years straight. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Yes, you have the experience but that experience is only with one type of audience and with one type of platform. This puts some speakers into a “comfort zone” in their speaking career.

There are many different platforms in which a speaker can present. When you only look at one platform you hold yourself back from opportunities. I’ve spoken in front of crowds up to 200 people so far and that has allowed me to determine my ideal audience demographics. When you are able to be in front of different audiences you are you get ideas and content from what it is the audience says that they need. (Q & A segments are a great way to find out the temperature of the audience)

Don’t be held back simply because you have become comfortable in working with one platform. Branch out and test the waters so you can expand your palate for speaking.


Everyone is not meant to be on stage. There are some who speak through books and poetry. Others speak through song or dance. Some will say yes to an opportunity and believe that they are now supposed to be doing this full time. The issue is that people don’t consider what being a full time speaker means. The same amount of effort and drive I put in at a job is the same amount of effort and drive I have to put in for my speaking business.

Investing in a pay for Play opportunity can also make people believe that all opportunities are going to be low cost. Nope………not by a long shot. I’ve had opportunities offered to me that costs between $10,000 & $20,000 for ONE 20 minute speech.

Don’t get discouraged. Pay for Play opportunities are not all bad. It is all dependent upon what you do with the experience. Also, understand that at some point you have to be able to move from Pay to play to being paid to speak. Don’t allow the pay for Play model to distract you from doing business.

When it comes to being a speaker you must understand that there are many different fountains in the world. Just recently I went to Philadelphia and watched children playing in a fountain and it made me smile. Camp kids and local Philadelphians can relate to going as a kid to a local fountain or pool on a hot day. Some people have fountains in their home for relaxation and others go and travel to see a fountain because of its beauty. There are people who want to engage with the content you share in that exact same way. Some will travel, some want an at home experience. Determine what works best for you and don’t compare your fountain to someone else’s.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Renee Purdie says:

    Great article, Altovise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sis. It came from a conversation I had with someone. Many people don’t like pay for Play.


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