PSU Insight

Speakers' Contracts and Other Important Forms

Get It In Writing! (Why You Need a Speaker's Contract)

Contracts are important. That’s obvious. Business people need contracts. And as a speaker or trainer, you’re a business person.

So contracts are important to you. But do you know why they’re important?

When asked, many people automatically say something like “I need a contract in case I go to court, so I can win my case!” Unfortunately, that is not a good reason. Here’s the problem — if you go to court to settle a dispute, for all practical purposes, you’ve already lost.

Why? Consider this little scenario —

You get in a dispute with a Fortune 500 company about a training program you’ve presented — either they sue you, or you’re suing them. You’re a small business owner with limited resources. They have an entire legal department, just sitting around waiting for something to do. Who do you think is going to win the suit?

(Yes, I know. Everybody has heard on the news of some trial where little David won a legal challenge against a corporate Goliath. But why is it on the news? Because it seldom happens! When it comes to the courtroom, entrepreneurial David usually loses against a corporate Goliath.)

Here’s another, even more likely situation —

You get in a dispute with a meeting planner or speakers bureau. Now the playing field is more level, but there’s still only one possible outcome. If you lose the dispute, you obviously lose. But if you win the case, you also lose. Why? If you prevail in your suit, do you really think the meeting planner or bureau will ever hire you again? And people who hire speakers talk to each other. So what are the chances of anyone hiring you, once the word gets out that you “bite the hand that feeds you”?

That’s why I say that, if you go to court, you’ve already lost.

And that brings us to the true purpose of contracts — keeping you out of the courtroom. And the best way of staying out of the courtroom is a having a clear understanding and agreement — on all sides — of what’s expected of everyone.

Upcoming sessions will explore what goes into writing a speaker's contract that works for you. But first, there are a few other considerations that you need to think about first.....