Be a Sponge: 8 Reasons You Are Not Getting Paid What You Want | Darren LaCroix

Be a Sponge: 8 Reasons You Are Not Getting Paid What You Want

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking

If you are a professional speaker or wish to be, why are you not getting paid what you want as often as you want? This could be the most important article you’ll ever read. In the process of reevaluating the keynote speaking portion of my business, I’m taking inventory myself. By the way, if you don’t feel like you are where you want to be, you are not alone. Most of the speakers I know are not at the annual income level they would like. Those who are could check all of the boxes on this list. Can you? The point of this article is to encourage you to take inventory and ask yourself some tough questions. Look at this list and focus on improving one area at a time.

What are the Top 8 Reasons you are not getting paid what you want?

Take inventory

#8 The value of your keynote is not clearly communicated.

No one pays you for a speech. They pay to have problems solved or aspirations attained. That’s it. In what area do you need help? A mentor, Alan Weiss, CSP, CPAE says, “We get paid to improve the client’s condition.” You need to look at yourself as an expert, or emerging expert who transfers the value of your experience through books, webinars, training and speaking. Your speech is only one method of delivery of this information.

Who is the audience you can help the most? What do they want? You can’t help everyone. You can’t market to everyone. Unless you are on a reality show or win a gold medal, stick to the audiences that you can help the most. If you can’t clearly communicate who you can help and how, you won’t get booked at the fee you want.

How would you rate how well you are communicating the value of your keynote?

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#7 Your Keynote Description & One-sheet are boring.

Consider this, if you actually get an event planner to go to your website and read your description, would they say to themselves, “Wow! This is exactly what our people need.”? This relates to #8, but I’m asking you to be specific about your one-sheet and program description. What is one of the most important things an event planner wants? Butts in seats. Well, it is our job to help them do that. How? We need to create a description that gets them to book us and for them to want to put us in their event program. The better job we do creating that clear, compelling description, the more they will want to use it in their program to increase their attendees. 

A keynote one-sheet may sound old school, but I see many five-figure keynoters offering them as downloads. It makes sense because it allows a well-branded pdf to be sent around to a committee or printed out for a meeting. This can be cleaner and more professional than printing a web page. It also allows the pdf to have links to your demo video and social media pages.

Personally, here is where I’m starting to upgrade my focus. I’ve been using the same descriptions of my keynote for over a decade! Yikes! I also have two new ones that I’ve been giving, but not had on my website. My bad. I hired a company to start on this for me. I love what they are creating.

How would you rate your keynote description and one-sheet?

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#6 Your Website and Social Media Footprint Hurts Your Expert Image.

Feeling courageous? Sit next to a trusted friend and have them look at your website while you watch without giving any direction. Ask them to express their thoughts honestly and verbally. Hold in the excuses you want to say. When an event planner is looking at your site, you will not be able to give them any direction. 

Would they see within the first ten seconds you were an expert who speaks? Would it be clear what you talk about and how to contact you? Chances are these days you won’t even get ten seconds from an event planner unless you were referred to them by a trusted friend of theirs who saw you speak. Does that make sense?

Does your website look professional? If you want to be a $10,000 speaker, does it look like the website of an industry expert? Your keynote may be amazing, but they will judge you on your site first. Perception. They are looking for quick reasons to disqualify you to go on to the next option.

OK, google your name? Google search your subject with “keynote speaker” in the search as well. Do you come up on the first page? Try the same in the YouTube search box. Are you on the first page? This is what Ford Saeks calls your social media footprint. Whoever does come up on the first page is a perceived expert in the mind of the event planner. As experts who speak, we are expected to be found on YouTube. Even potential conference attendees will search the speakers name on YouTube to help them decide if they will attend the event or not.

How would you rate your website and social media footprint?

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#5 Your Demo Video Isn’t Compelling Enough.

Whether you get booked directly or through a speakers’ bureau, the demo video is one of your most important tools to marketing your keynote. If you are a $2,500 speaker, your demo video should look like a $5,000 speaker. If you are a $5,000 speaker it should look like the quality of a $10,000 speaker. The most in-demand speakers are constantly upgrading their demo video. Are you? Have you looked at others and compared them to yours? Event planners are, so it might be a good idea for you to as well. 

This still relates to #8. Your message and how you help and who you help should be clear. You don’t have to invest a ton of money, though many do; but you must look professional, and we should see you in action. Some high profile speakers will invest $10,000 in a demo video. Why? Because it is the important tool to get them booked. Event planners also want to see audience reaction. Do you have testimonials as well? Look at what others are doing above your fee level and model their strategies the best you can with what you have. Always get footage whenever you speak, if you can, and testimonials too. It is much simpler in this day and age without having to invest in expensive equipment.

I filmed a new one last year and I’m only now sitting down to edit it and bring it to life. I get it. We are busy, but we must update and evolve our marketing tools to get booked and up our fees.

How would you rate your demo video?

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#4 The Window. 

This may be the biggest reason you are not getting paid what you want as often as you want. Me too. Have you ever sat in an audience and saw a speaker on stage who you knew was getting paid and thought, “I’m at least that good.”? You may be 100% correct, but that is not how the industry works. You could be ten times better; but if the event planner is aware of them and not aware of you, then you are a secret. No one hires someone they are not aware of!

When the event planner is putting together an event, they have deadlines. They need to make decisions on their speakers far enough in advance to promote the event. Event planners also have budgets which vary greatly from event to event and industry to industry. The event planner has a window of time where they collect a list of potential speakers in their budget.  They and their committee then narrow it down to the best option they can afford. The speaker that you thought you were “at least as good as” got hired, the event planner was aware of them and not you. So, they didn’t pick you even though your skills may be better. Whose responsibility is it to create awareness for the event planner? Let me help you out, yours!

How would you rate awareness to event planners? 

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 = World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#3 Your on-Stage Skills Aren’t Generating Referrals.

I heard a statistic that there is no way to prove, but makes sense. I hear that 80% of paid speeches come as a result of referral. The accuracy of the stat itself does not matter, but the truth is your best marketing tool is how good you are once you get on stage. How good are you? Are you good enough people want to follow you? Do people come up to you after your speech and tell you how you helped them?

When I get hired by a speakers’ bureau, one of the take-aways for them is leads. They love that I please a client, but love even more when I walk away with referrals for future gigs. Why? It is a great indication that you were so good people want more, and they believe other people should hear you too. If that is not happening for you now, no worries, but focus on upgrading your skills quickly so that you do.

The fastest way to improve on stage is by getting a qualified coach. Even in my Business Mastery Program we mentor people in the business, but include all of our skills programs and live calls as well. Why? Because your skills on stage are essential to getting booked again. Always be increasing your skills and improving your stories. I say resolve to evolve.

How would you rate your presentation skills? 

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#2 Staying on Top of Mind – referrals

OK, did you ever consider this? They loved you. They want to recommend you. They are big fans of yours. The challenge is, no one they know is planning an event right now. Then, life happens. Time goes on, and other priorities move the amazing experience they had with you to the back of their mind.

Did you ever consider that your ability to stay on top of their minds will increase your bookings? This relates back to #3. Did you ask them to follow you on social media? Did you prompt them to join your content-rich, value-packed newsletter? If you did not, you hurt your business. If you did, are you keeping track of the people who sign up to follow you? Is your list growing? If so, how quickly?

Consider this, six months from now someone in your audience will run into someone or be asked if they know of someone who will be a good fit for their event. They may have remembered the feeling you gave them, but do they remember your name? Can they easily find you because they just got an article from you yesterday? It is our job to stay “top of mind” with people who have heard us speak. It is one low-cost, high value way to get bookings.

How would you rate your systems to help you stay top of mind? 

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10


#1 You don’t have the right mentor.

First, do you have a mentor? If you do, does that person speak from the experience of the level you want to attain? When I was in the standup comedy world, there were opening acts, middle acts and headliners. I learned from Brian Tracy to go straight to the headliners. You can learn bad habits that you have to unlearn from opening acts. To achieve the next level at whatever we do, you need that trusted person you turn to for advice, who can speak from experience. We need the right advice from the right perspective.

No one becomes great alone. We need the direction, the nudge and the accountability. When we get stuck, we need to be able to ask someone with experience how to get unstuck. That is one reason in my quest to help people get more bookings at higher fees, I added live group mentoring zoom calls so that my Stage Time Members can ask questions to my marketing mentor, Ford Saeks and me. So, in addition to my Get Paid to Speak by Next Week® and “YouTube It!” programs, they also get access to mentoring at an affordable cost.

We all need mentors to grow, but we also need the right mentors in the right area. Whether you join me and Ford or find a mentor of your own, it doesn’t matter. Get one! Even join a mastermind group with people who are where you want to be. It can’t be the blind leading the almost blind. Get help! Be a sponge.

For example, I know I need help in the “image” area. I have gotten coaching in the past and it is time for me to do the same again, so I am. Do you reach out to get help? Please do. Find someone. Make sure you find the person who will be honest with you. I’ve never had a mentor who was “nice” to me who helped me grow. It is honesty from experience that gets us to the next level.

How would you rate your mentor? 

Be honest with yourself. (1=Amateur, 10 =World Class)

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10

I understand this may be an intimidating article. It may also be the wakeup call you need. I’m not asking you to do what I’m not doing myself. This is not an easy business. We have to be passionate, forward-thinking and get out of our own way. Ed Tate says, “Speaking is a business first; we get paid second.” If you get the order wrong, you don’t get paid at all.” It is a business. Take inventory, but don’t be overwhelmed, just pick one area and improve it. That work will perpetuate into the other areas as well. Work on one for a month. Then choose the next one. Create an improvement strategy and stick to it. Your career depends on it.

What do you take from this?

Please add your comments/read other comments, on this blog post.

Want to know more about Darren’s Get Paid to Speak mentoring? 

What are the secrets, stories and strategies behind Unforgettable Presentations? Find out. Listen to Darren’s Brand New Podcast.