PSU Insight

Speakers' Contracts and Other Important Forms

What About Freebie Speeches and Verbal Contracts?

But what about “freebie” speeches? If you’re not getting paid to speak, you don’t need a contract, right? Wrong! Misunderstandings can erupt from a freebie speech as easily as from a fee-paid presentation. And misunderstandings, even if they don’t lead to the courtroom, never work to your advantage.

But why does it have to be written down? Isn’t it possible to avoid misunderstandings with a “verbal contract”?

It’s true – it would be nice if you could conduct all your business with a handshake. When you’re dealing with people that you know and trust, formal contracts may seem unnecessary — even cold and ‘unfriendly’.

Contracts are obviously necessary when you’re dealing with someone you don’t know very well. But contracts are also useful when everyone involved knows and likes each other. For example, what if you “seal the deal” with a handshake with someone you’ve known for years? Contracts aren’t necessary between friends, right? But you’re in trouble if your friend is laid off or needs to take a leave of absence, and the replacement has a different viewpoint on your engagement.

So contracts help you to avoid misunderstandings and to prepare for unexpected occurrences. (And even if you don’t want to use contracts, the people you’re dealing with may prefer or expect you to.) Successful professional speakers, like any business people, learn to document their commitments in writing whenever possible.