A tweet from my friend David Bisset captured my attention this morning:
My policy on official speakers needing to buy tickets for the WordCamp / event they’re speaking at:
It should never happen. Period.
— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) January 26, 2015
Well, of course.
That’s how I plan all the not-for-profit events I’m involved with.
Whether it’s a WordCamp, Refresh Detroit meetup, Detroit User Experience event, Metro Detroit WordPress meeting, or HighEdWeb Michigan conference, anyone who speaks at the event is admitted for free. I’ve written about that in the past.
Same thing for volunteers. Anyone who offers to help out at an event, as an event planner, room host, photographer, or social media manager, attends the event for free.
Speakers and volunteers are generously donating their time and skills to make your event a success.
Your event doesn’t exist without speakers and volunteers.
Tim’s Blog Post
That’s when I discovered the blog post that prompted David’s tweet: Respect your conference speakers and volunteers by Tim Nash, published earlier today.
Very sad, but why I won't be talking at WordCamp Birmingham UK in a few weeks – https://t.co/JJPRIQL2r7
— Tim Nash (@tnash) January 26, 2015
In his post, Nash explains how he submitted a talk for a local WordCamp, only to later discover he had to pay to speak at the event. He decided not to speak at the event.
Read the post. It’s a well-written post about event organizing, speakers, and volunteers. I completely agree with his thoughts on speakers and volunteers attending not-for-profit events for free.
It’s a gesture of respect.
And I personally liked Nash’s comment about changing our mindset about donating to an event. Whether you’re an event organizer, speaker, or volunteer, you’re donating many hours and days of your time to the event.
The least you can do is give them a ticket.
He also shares tips on what you can do as a potential attendee, sponsor, volunteer, or speaker to change the thinking of event planners on charging speakers and volunteers.
Another Event Planner’s Perspective
After replying to several of David’s tweets, my friend Angela Bergmann and I chatted about event planning, speakers, and volunteers.
@redcrew Exactly! And for WCNC, we assume a +1. My husband is always with me, especially since I drive everywhere usually.
— Angie 🖤🦄 (@radkitten) January 26, 2015
Bergmann graciously accepted my invitation to share her thoughts for this post:
Speakers are what drives your conference. I would never expect to be monetarily compensated for speaking at a non-profit conference like WordCamp, but I do expect at a minimum for my ticket to be comped. I’d also appreciate if my +1 is comped, as I do not like to travel alone.
I learned something new. For past events, I had not considered providing a free ticket for a +1. Something I’m adding to my event planning task list.
She added, “While a speaker gets to attend a conference, they are not free to attend any session they wish. And I frequently find myself spending the majority of a conference fielding questions and preparing for my topic anyway.”
“It isn’t as though I am getting the same value from the conference as a regular attendee. This doesn’t even account for the time spent preparing for the event and the cost of travel, ” Bergmann told me.
She said, “As an organizer for WordCamp North Canton, we assume the speaker and a +1 will be attending.” We:
- Comp their tickets for the speaker and their +1
- Provide a nice speaker dinner (with the +1)
- Give a speaker gift
Bergmann ended our conversation,
Just like we are donating our time for this event, they are as well. Without our speakers there is no conference to attend.
I’d like to hear your thoughts. Am I missing something? As a speaker, volunteer, or event organizer, do you expect to attend the event for free?