Thank you for taking the time to write this, and for advancing the conversation about transparency in business dealings around conferences, Steve.
I have also experienced the same painful lack of rigor in business relationships within the conference/speaking community. I’ve spoken at events that treated me wonderfully professionally and a few that didn’t. I look at my client agreements, sub-contractor agreements, and speaking agreements in pretty much the same way:
- What value am I expected to provide?
- What value am I expecting to get?
- Do we agree on the “exchange rate?” (Could be money, exposure, or even a nice meal and a conversation. But it’s usually money.)
- What happens when the expectation of value isn’t met?
I need these four points to be relatively clear before I enter any kind engagement, speaking ones included. I don’t share these to imply that you didn’t follow these (because it’s clear that you did) but simply to put my personal checklist out there for discussion.
Also, perhaps to say to conference organizers: you are in business with your speakers as much as you are with your attendees. If you don’t conduct yourself professionally by holding yourself accountable to your own agreements, regardless of what happens, your business probably won’t be sustainable, and nor should it be.