Public speaking is one of the best ways to raise your visibility and your value. Yet, too many women speak for free. They may be sharing the stage with other presenters who are getting paid because they forget to ask for a fee. Elizabeth Bachman interviews Lovelda Vincenzi about how getting paid for your public appearances actually makes people take you more seriously. Lovelda also shares the secret of powerful storytelling to connect well with your target audience.
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How to Get Paid to Speak … Even if You have a Corporate Job
Even If You Have A Corporate Job
I’m delighted to welcome you to this show, where we interview experts from around the world on presentation, skills, leadership, visibility and all communication challenges that can be faced and overcome. Before we go on, I’d like to remind you that if you’re interested in how better presentation skills can support your career and make you more visible and valued, take my four-minute free assessment at www.SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. You’ll get an idea of where you’re strong and where you might need a little bit of support. I am excited because I have the divine, amazing Lovelda Vincenzi as my guest. Lovelda, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
I heard about Lovelda from her husband, Simone Vincenzi, who is also a speaker trainer. He was raving about her and I went to check her out and I said, “I need to know this woman.” I’ve been following her for quite some time and love her materials. When I got the opportunity, I said, “Come and talk to us.” Let me read the official bio first because it’s impressive. Lovelda Vincenzi is an international MC, moderator, and host. She specializes in emceeing and moderating business events for organizers who want to create memorable experiences.
In around eighteen months, she went from an unknown name to introducing and facilitating conversations with political figureheads, celebrities, senior business executives, and entrepreneurs. Names such as the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, Kunal Nayyar of The Big Bang Theory, Paul Polman who’s the former CEO of Unilever, and Monica Lewinsky. She was born in the Caribbean, developed in Papua New Guinea and refined in the UK. Lovelda’s international upbringing means diversity has been in her blood since a young age. Having noticed the gender imbalance on large international stages, she initiated a mission to unleash authentic, powerful female voices into the world.
She started world-class female speakers, teaching female speakers and business owners how to get found, booked, and paid as speakers. It’s all about enabling women to be paid for sharing their expertise. She also hosts the Lovelda Show – Women of Power Podcast in which she showcases the breadth of female power. Lovelda, it is my mission in life to get more women out there speaking as well. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to hear from you and your ideas. Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of how to get paid for speaking, I’d like to ask you, who would your dream interview be? If you were to share a stage with someone who’s no longer in the public eye, who would it be? What would you ask them and who should be listening?
I picked one that might seem a little bit obscure and unable to interview because she’s no longer around. I would interview with Rosa Parks. For those of you who have not heard of Rosa before, she’s an American activist who refused to give up her seat on a bus, which started the Montgomery bus boycott, which was a significant point in the civil rights movement. The reason I’d want to interview her is that I’m somebody who is big on diversity, big on voices and people speaking up.
Even though much time has passed since then, there’s still a lot in women that stops us from speaking up. Especially speaking up, we think that others aren’t going to want to hear us or it’s not going to be welcomed. I’d love to ask her questions about what she was thinking at that time when she did something quite poignant that could have got her killed. It was not a safe thing to do in any regard. I want to understand and learn from her how we can then find that sympathy within ourselves is to use our voices more powerfully even in circumstances that may be uncomfortable and perhaps a little bit unsafe.Even though so much time has passed, there are still a lot in women that stops us from speaking up. Click To Tweet
This makes me think of the power of somebody who says, “To hell with it, I’m too tired to pretend.” The way I was taught the story, she was a cleaning lady in those days. The blacks had to stand in the back of the bus or sit in the back of the bus and the front seats of the bus were for the whites. If a white person came and said, “Move,” a black person had to get up and move. She was tired that day and her feet hurt so much that she said, “No.” That was a huge milestone in civil rights but it was also dangerous because she could indeed have been killed, beaten or whatever. Often milestones come, we don’t notice and realize that until later. I’m interested in what you said about women who don’t speak up because they think they won’t be welcomed. This is a big theme in my work. What do you say to someone who says, “It’s dangerous if I make a fuss.”
Somebody has to do it. Most of the time, it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. Ninety percent of the time, it’s nowhere near what you’ve made up in your head. When people are too scared to say something, it’s because they’ve made up. Rosa Parks was in a situation in which it wasn’t made up. It was a reality that she could have got killed. Most of the time in the modern-day, that’s not the truth. It’s a story we’ve made up in our heads. We’ve projected it into the future. We’ve given it power that we believe that things are going to go in a particular direction. The truth is when we do say what we have to say, it allows the space for others to show up and do the same.
What Rosa demonstrated when she said no, was there were a lot of other people that were at a similar point, they were fed up. They’ve had enough. They were also tired but they were too scared. It takes that one person that can be transformational for others. You do not know the power of those words until you use them. Sometimes that power is transformational on a global scale and personally for you. It’s that moment when you say, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not tolerating this anymore. I’m not putting up with this anymore. For once, I’m going to put myself first, I’m going to say what’s on my mind.”
From that moment to getting up and giving a keynote speech, how do you work with speakers who finally say, “I’ve had it. Now what?”
It’s finding a purpose because there’s a real distinction between I’ve had it and I want to rant about it. I’ve had it, I have a purpose and I want to make some transformation. That’s a journey for many people. Sometimes we hit the “I’ve had it” point and I want to tell everybody this story and to inspire. Storytelling and inspiration are not necessarily where the transformation is. It’s what impact do I want to have and with whom? The work that I do to say, “Let’s move this from a passion to something,” does not only have an impact but also puts money in your bank account to go, “Who’s this message for that’s going to value it in a month and pay for you to speak about it?”
I love what you were saying about deciding to speak up who it is for and what do you need to do. The main thing I’m always wondering about is how to decide why you’re going to speak. Speaking gives you great credibility. It’s a great way to become visible and enhance your career. How can you decide if your ideas are worth talking about?
You’ve got two types of speakers. You’ve got three broad groups. You’ve got those who are in a corporate role and they’re looking to speak to promote themselves, their expertise and get those eyes on them as somebody who’s an expert. You’ve got business owners who are speaking on stages and that’s often part of growing their business. You’ve got speakers and researchers who have a depth of expertise in a particular area and they want to use that as a positioning tool in all three cases. It’s a positioning tool for you and your expertise. Provided you focus on what you want to be known for, then that’s when you get the traction where people become unstuck especially in a business context. Sometimes it’s a story. Do you want to be known for that story? Do you want to be known as the person who’s pioneering a particular thing, as a person who’s the expert in a particular thing and as a thought leader in a particular area? It’s like writing a book. I go, “Whatever you pick your topic on, is this the thing you want people to know you for? You’re the go-to person for X. If it’s not, that’s not your thing.” It’s thinking a little bit longer time and saying, “What do I want to own that people say you should go to Jane for X? What is that thing?” That’s where your focus should be.
One of the things that I often tell people is that if you’re thinking that you want to be out there speaking and you don’t know what to talk about, what are the things that bug you like Rosa Parks? It bugged her that at the end of a long day, her feet were hurting. She had to get up and give up her seat on the bus. If you’re not sure what it is that you’re for, think about what you’re against. What are your pet peeves and then say, “Could I suggest something that would make the world better?”
Your pet peeves are a real window to what you’re for. If your pet peeves are not this, it’s normally the opposite. The opposite of it is normally what you’re looking for. Some people know what they like and like more than what they don’t like. Some people know they don’t like this but they don’t know what they like. Often, if it’s something you don’t like and you are bugged by inefficiencies, things not going right and clutter then you’re for simplicity and you’re for ease. You’re for maybe the use of technology for efficiency. It’s normally the opposite in some way because you want to get away from this so you can get to the other side.
One of the great things about that is you then become known for someone who can do this. It’s also a way of changing what you’re known for quite often. I worked with a lot of high-level corporate women especially in tech who are known for solving problems. People say they’re fixers people who can fix things as opposed to someone who is a strategic thinker. When you’re thinking about what you’re going to speak about, you and I both agree that it’s worth the time to get it right. How do you get paid for it? I’m speaking if suppose you have a job and they ask you to come and be on a panel or do a speech for a conference that is helping young women in tech for instance.
It’s about starting to create a personal profile outside of your role. Otherwise, you are the representative from XYZ company. Especially in the conference space, often what happens is your company has paid for a sponsor spot and they needed to send a speaker. You’ll be the representative speaker. In order to come out of that, you need to be an individual who’s recognized as an expert beyond this company.
If your company is a corporate sponsor, can you also ask for a fee or not?
No, because the speaking is included as the sponsorship but what you want to do is use those opportunities. It’s about being savvy. What is speaking for? Is it about building your expertise to have a second income stream? That you’re invited to go and speak in different places as a paid opportunity outside because they’re not coming to your company. They’re coming for you. That’s what the difference needs to be if you want to be paid for it. They’re coming because you happen to work at XYZ company but it’s you they’re coming after. They’re not coming for a representative of XYZ company.
That’s a great distinction. Especially for online conferences, it is assumed that the speakers will speak for free. I talked to a lot of people and I thought, “You speak for free and that’s the deal.” Maybe we are assuming it’s for free and there’s someone else who is assuming it’s paid and the other person is getting paid for it. How do you negotiate that balance to ask about money?Your pet peeves are a real window to what you're actually for. Click To Tweet
The first thing is you’ve got to decide that it’s something that you want and it makes sense for you. You’ve also got to understand that not all conferences are designed with a budget in mind for speakers. Not all of them do that. They operate in different ways. They have their own business model. I’m not going to make them right, wrong or indifferent. They’re different. Once you know what that is then you’re able to say, “I’m doing this as a revenue opportunity.” It’s about positioning because we know there are some people we expect to pay and some people expect we’re doing them a favor and giving them an opportunity. The positioning depends on, “If I jump on a person’s website and they’ve done a whole bunch of awesome stuff and it’s there. By website from a corporate perspective, if you’re working in a job, your website is your LinkedIn profile.”
Let’s be fair. That’s where people are going to look for you. If I look at your LinkedIn profile, you haven’t been thinking savvy about it and you’re using it as a glorified CV, then I’m expecting that I’m helping you to raise your profile. I’m not anticipating that you’re even going to be thinking about money. If I look at your profile and you’re writing independent pieces, you’re a thought leader in your own right, you’ve got a whole role here about speaking and you have spoken on lots of other stages with some great people, my thinking is now a little bit different.
It’s not going to surprise me if you say, “What’s the fee for this? We need to talk about how much the remuneration is for this particular role because I’m not coming as a representative, I’m coming as me. If I’m coming as a freelancer, I’m expecting to be paid for it.” Often, it’s that starting point of asking and 9 out of 10 people don’t. They’re waiting for the other person to throw, “Can you send me through an invoice?” I finished working with a client who was doing a lot of profiling work. I got two people to come through two opportunities come in as a result of updates to our profile, etc. She says to me, “Lovelda, I was happy to do the gig. They’ve asked me how much it’s going to be and I wasn’t expecting to be paid. I genuinely assumed they had no money or they wouldn’t pay me for this and I didn’t know.” Sometimes you need to be at a place where you go, “How much would I want for them?”
Say you’re a senior director and you’re speaking at a conference. They say, “What’s your fee?” How do you know how much to ask for?”
It depends on a number of things. Firstly, if you’re a senior director, you want to make sure that your contract allows you to do that because sometimes they may see that as a conflict of interests and you’re able to contractually get paid for those roles. The thing about speaking is there isn’t a set fee. What you can assume is it’s all based a little bit on perception and expertise. Let’s put it this way. If you’ve been somebody who’s pioneered some incredibly significant things in your time, your role, and you have a depth of experience where you are seen as a thought leader and a pioneering person in a particular industry. You’ve transformed the landscape of an industry. You can command a lot more than if you’re seen as a commodity.
I was with another CEO and it’s from a medium-sized company. There wasn’t anything different that you’re doing. It all comes back down to positioning yourself, your expertise and your point of difference. You’re somebody who’s known for. They always have a creative view. They seem to have a finger on the pulse. Anytime they said something is happening, we fast forward two years and we see that as the reality. They’re always four steps ahead. We want to hear their expertise. It comes back to the value of the content that you have to give.
I could hear my inner little girl saying, “What makes me special?” If a client comes to you and says, “I have something to say. How do I know if I’m special and interesting enough?” I haven’t invented a cure for malaria but I do have some ideas. How do you start if you’re not famous?
Firstly, we all start somewhere. Secondly, you’re always winning at being you. It’s a good reminder like nobody else. It’s the one role in the world where if you own that and you will always be knocking out the park. Often, we have this thing that there’s this grandiose, something about it in order to be able to be on a stage. It isn’t. It took me a while when I started hosting and emceeing. I was thinking, “What makes me different?” It wasn’t until I see other people do it. The one-piece of feedback I got more times than ever was, “I love your energy.” I wasn’t paying much attention to it but I used to get that feedback consistently. Somebody else can come on the stage and do the same thing but there’s no chance they’re going to do it like me. They can’t and they’re not me. They don’t have the same energy as me. They’re going to have a different style to how they operate. I got that often and I noticed the more I was okay with saying, “If you want energy and professionalism, I can bring that.”
The thing that we forget is our unique experiences is what makes us different. For me, I organized events and I’ve spoken on stages myself. I understand the event organizer’s perspective and the speaker’s perspective. I’m incredibly ridiculously organized at pulling things together and I genuinely love this. I have a set process. I have an international accent because I lived in many different parts of the world. Nobody else can replicate my life experiences. They can’t. They can’t ask questions the way I’m going to ask them. What we have to do is stop, look and own what we do have rather than focus on what we don’t have. “I don’t have a Nobel Prize like such and such. I don’t have 40 years of experience in the sector.” What do you have? Own that.
I’m always thinking, “Make sure you have your allies and the other people who can work with you, help you and reflect back to you how you’re coming across.” As speakers and trainers, we both do that but you can do it with your personal board of advisors so that you have people who can say, “This looks great. That doesn’t sound great.” It’s always hard to tell your own story.
It is. It’s about getting curious and listening to what people are telling you because the clues are always there. You’ll have consistent feedback. For me, it was, “I love your energy.” I brushed it off for many years. “What the heck does that even mean, I love your energy.” I come off stage and the first thing I hear, “I love your energy.” I thought I’m going to tell people, “I’m energized. That’s what I do.” I realized that’s why people hired me for my energy. It’s something that’s innate to me that I couldn’t get it. I was like, “What is this energy thing. I don’t understand why you hire energy.”
That’s why they hire me because they like my energy. It was a bit of feedback I got the most. If you’ve been speaking on stages, what do people tell you when you get off the stage? What is it about your style? Is it about some light bulb moment that you’re good at getting across? What is it? That’s what they are seeing is your expertise and that’s what you need to take out and use it. If it’s hidden down at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile or it’s not something you talk about much, then you’re not highlighting the thing that people appreciate you most for. You take that stuff and you put it right at the forefront.
How could one start? I have some thoughts. Do you have any suggestions for phrases we can use if we’re not used to asking for money? What could somebody say in order to start asking for a fee?
It depends on the context where the conversation is happening and how it’s happening. For me, when people first started approaching me and I’d say, “I’ll get you the information over to you in an email.” I was too scared to have a conversation with them face to face because they would have to see the look of terror in my eyes as I’m trying to make something up as I go. I did not have the guts to do that initially so I used to put it online and say, “I’ll send you through my rates.” That way you say, “This is great. I’m glad you’re interested. I will put my price in front of you.” I’m personally not a fan of asking somebody for their budget and the reason for that is it doesn’t matter.Our unique experiences make us different. Click To Tweet
Often, we get hung up on especially if somebody is like, “Send your prices through.” They’re like, “What can I charge? What can I afford?” It doesn’t matter. They asked how much you value yourself out. “What is your price?” Let’s say for argument’s sake you charge $1,000 and their budget is half of that. They say their budget is half of that and you go in and say, “I want $500.” That was my total budget. Is there any chance you can do it for $450? All they’ve heard is you charged $500. Not that you charged $1,000 and you discounted it to $500. What they’ve heard is your fee is $500. Nobody ever says, “That’s great. Can I pay $1,000?”
People don’t want to negotiate the price up. Whatever the first thing that comes out of your mouth, they’ll assume that’s your rate. Sometimes it’s something you want to do. You say, “These are my standard prices but I’m open to negotiation. How does that suit your budget? Are we close? Are we far?” The other thing that irritates people is when you know that your price is $1,000 and then you make an assumption that they’ve only got $600, that would be the top end of their budget. You go in and say, “It’s $600.” They say, “Great, let’s move ahead.” Do you know what you think? “Damn it.” You could’ve paid more. That was too quick.
Can you talk a little bit about if they say, “We don’t have the budget,” instead of you saying, “I’ll do it for free?” How can you get non-monetary, “I will do it for the sake of referrals,” for instance?
I worked in sales for years and the thing is people find the money for things I don’t want. I’ve had people tell me they have no budget and somehow managed to find half my fee. They go away, have a conversation and move some stuff around. It happens. I’ve had situations where there are two speakers put up and they go for the more expensive one, not the cheaper one. It’s not necessarily that it’s whether or not they see value in your services. It becomes, “You want me, let’s negotiate. What can you do? Meet me halfway.” The key thing with the negotiation is it’s about the full value of the deal. Often what people do is barter. They don’t negotiate. Bartering is what happens in the market and the only thing we’re talking about is the price, “It’s $100 and I’ll give you $80.” All you’re doing is you’re moving a price up and down but you’re getting the same thing.
If you’re a business owner, you’re taking it out of your profits or it doesn’t matter, you’ve got less money to spend. In negotiating, you move the deal around. You say, “The total value of the deal is X but in this case, given the people that are here, if you guys are willing to give me testimonials, I value those quite heavily. I can discount the price in exchange for Y,” or “If you don’t have that, I can’t come and do an hour. I’m going to have to take something out of this so that it still feels valuable.”
There’s a wonderful speaker who thinks of it as the basic, the deluxe and the platinum version. The basic is less money than you want to get and less value than they want. The platinum is more money than they want to spend and more work than you want to have to do but you take it if they gave it to you. The deluxe is the version where you think that’s where we’re going to be but you offer all three packages so that they have a comparison rate. When I first heard that a few years ago, I’ve been using that system ever since. It’s a great way of mentioning it.
Giving people options to say, “I want to work with you but I’m not going to do all of this for this price. If you want all of that, that’s how much it is. If you don’t have the budget for it then we have to look at something else.” Something is going to have to come out of this and that’s the negotiation. It’s worth it. It’s about evaluating it. If it’s going to increase your profile significantly because of the stage that you’re on and the next time you say that it makes life easier for you, it might be worth reducing your fees a lot more. If you’ve got nothing to gain from it apart from a fee, then take something out of it.
If you’re going to go and do this to a group of people that is not an audience you would ordinarily speak in front of, that’s not going to position you better in your career and in a place where the timing is inconvenient for you, it’s not going to be as fun in a location that you don’t enjoy going to, then it’s for a fee. If they’re going to pay to send you to the Bahamas and put you up in a hotel for a week to talk for an hour, you might be willing to negotiate.
The first case is when you say, “Tell me those dates again. I forgot. I’m already booked for that. Let’s try another time.” See what happens. Can you tell me where somebody should start if they want to learn more about you and how to become a world-class female speaker?
I’m active on both LinkedIn, Instagram and also on Facebook quite frequently. I’m not good on Twitter. With the name of Lovelda Vincenzi, type it in and you can find me on all of those platforms easily. I predominantly work with female business owners. I’m about helping women position themselves and get their voices out so that they can have greater impacts and make money from it. In the corporate space, what I will say is there is a huge opportunity for the business savvy woman who steps out to speak. The reason for that is especially in light of events that have happened in 2020, there’s a real focus on diversity not of thought but the diversity of representation. People from different backgrounds and different genders being present on the stage. Organizers especially in corporate spaces struggle and certain industries more than others when they’re going to companies to get people to come who are women.
If you speak at different places, it’s a lot easier to go up the corporate ladder because you’ve built this name for yourself. If this company is not going to pay you, it’s a lot easier to go to a competitor, they take one look at your resume and they’re like, “Come on in.” You can put yourself forward as the spokesperson. A lot of organizers will be actively saying to the marketing team or whoever it is who’s putting forward these speakers, “Do you have a woman as well? Could you send us a cross mix rather than men?” If you’re in a managerial position and you can throw your hat in the ring, you’re going to do well and quickly. Especially if you’re in an industry where there aren’t quite many women, your name will be plucked out more than your male counterparts.
The other thing we’ve referred to it by having said it aloud is that how horrible it feels if you’ve done something on a volunteer basis and you find out that the person next to you is getting five figures because they’re the one who asked. That used to happen to me early in my opera career where I would say, “I’ll come for whatever you can pay.” It’s because nice girls don’t ask for money. That’s what my mom told me. I would find out that someone else who came who wasn’t as good or never as good who made twice as much as I did because they asked. That hurt for a long time. I said, “I am going to learn how to do this.” If people say, “What would you tell to your 25-year-old self?” I would say, “Ask for more money.” I waited to be recognized for my brilliance for far too long.
The other thing to say is everybody likes a bargain. If you come in and say, “I’m going to be $100 and somebody else says $1,000, they will take the $100. Everybody likes a bargain. If you want to position yourself as a bargain then that’s what’s going to happen. A big switch for me is the more I was doing this, what I found is I started hanging out with different people. When I started, nobody was making money especially in my space. They were telling me, “You couldn’t make a lot of money doing it.” The longer I was in this space, I’d hear somebody go, “Yes.” I got a manager and they were like, “It’s not much, it’s only £1,500.” I was like, “Not much.” To me at the time, it felt like a big deal.
I’d be speaking to other people like, “Such and such is picking up.” They’re charging $6,000 or $7,000 for the same darn thing that I’m doing for a fraction of the price. The more you throw yourself into it and start to be in this space, you’ll start to have that shift because your peers are charging more. You go from thinking nobody pays, which is what I hear a lot from women, or how do I make money from this? I’m like, “You do realize that there are people lapping up five figures for doing an hour on a stage.” You do realize this is happening every single day. It’s a new norm but it’s not their norm because in their space, everybody always does this for free. Everybody around you is telling you nobody pays. Align yourself to speaker coaches or people who work in the space and continue to bring more people into your world who are in that space who will help to shift your perspective of what normal is and how much you can get.
I want to thank you for having been my guest. I love knowing you. It’s great, fun to talk with you, to have you on here and to share your wisdom with us all. Do you have one final thought for us?
My final thought would be to get started and don’t concern yourself with what other people are doing. Remember, everybody started somewhere and where they are now is not where they were 5 or 20 years ago. That’s not where they started. Don’t concern yourself and get hooked up and hung up on what everybody else is doing. Focus on yourself and plan to do better than you did the last time. Provided you do that consistently, you will be that person people are looking at in five years’ time and going, “I can’t do that.”
Thank you, Lovelda Vincenzi. It has been such a delight to have you on the show. If you like this, follow us, like us on YouTube and tell your friends about it. If you’re interested in how you can be a world-class female speaker, contact Lovelda and to see how the presentation skills can help you be more visible and valued. Go to my free four-minute assessment at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can see where you’re strong in your presentation skills and where you could tweak some things to get a better result. I’ll see you at the next one.
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