Hiring A Professional Speaker Jargon Buster Part 2: Words N-Z

For the inexperienced, hiring a professional speaker or entertainer can be intimidating.

This is part two of Jargon Busting For Hiring Professional Speakers.

Hiring A Professional Speaker Jargon Primer: Words N-Z

Nonprofit Discount

If you are a nonprofit organization, always ask if the speaker or entertainer offers a nonprofit discount. Some do!

Recording Permission

Always, always, always ask for permission to audio and video record their presentation at the time of signing the contract, even if you don’t have plans to record it. Typically speakers will not charge extra for recordings if you ask in the original agreement. I’ve seen many organizations decide at the last minute to record presentations and then have to get a speaker’s release. If the recording is an add-on after signing the contract, expect the speaker to ask for more money. A recording release is also the best way to handle those attendees that decide to take photos or video the presentation. The speaker may ask if the recording is for archives, sales or to offer free to a limited audience. If you are livestreaming the event, you must have a speaker release!


Technically, the rider is a separate document that has special provisions typically not included in the original contract. The contract refers to the rider for more details. Often an entertainer’s rider includes everything they need for staging and AV. A general rule of thumb for entertainers is to double their fee so you know how much the rider and fee cost together. The higher the speaker or entertainer’s fee, the more likely they have a specific rider that includes additional items such as food and beverage in the green room, requirements for their lodging, makeup and hair expectations, etc.


The more famous the speaker or entertainer is, the more likely they will need security. If you are securing a well-known person, ask about the presenter’s security expectations. Sometimes this information is in the rider. If you are hiring an elected politician, you will probably be expected to provide security. If you are hiring an ex-president, you are entering the world of Secret Service and will have to jump through a lot of hoops. You also want to alert the venue of any needs of the famous person and plan how to transport this person in service hallways to avoid crowds. And don’t forget to allocate event staff to walk this person from meeting to meeting to ensure they arrive on time.

Speakers Bureau

An organization that represents a variety of professional speakers or entertainers. An account representative will be assigned to you and they can help you secure a professional for your event. The bureau typically receives from 15% – 30% of the speakers fee so the higher the fee, the more that goes to the bureau. Some bureaus will not manage or represent speakers that are under $4,000-$10,000 speakers. The account rep may only get between 5%-20% of the amount the bureau receives. One thing to consider is that some speakers will sponsor contests for the bureau and offer free trips or additional bonuses to the rep that secures the most engagements for them. When your account rep pitches speakers, ask them for full disclosure if they are getting anything beyond their fee in exchange for pushing certain speakers.

Speaker Guidelines

This is not something usually listed in the contract. As the host organization, I suggest that you have all your speakers sign a document that states this is a non-commercial forum, is a discrimination-free zone and that the presentation does not include infringement of intellectual property. Here is a Speaker Guidelines example.

Travel Buyout

The hiring organization can pay a set fee to cover travel, lodging and expenses. This puts the pressure back on the speaker to make their own travel arrangements and keep their expenses within the allotted amount. This works great for marquee names that may require first class and do not book their tickets in advance. It also works well for those headliner names that want you to pay for a private jet for their travel. (Yes, there are big-name speakers that require a private jet.)


If you want the speaker to present a pre- or post-conference webinar in addition to the face-to-face presentation, get it in the contract. If the speaker knows of all of your expectations at the beginning, they are less likely to increase your fee. If you are hiring a speaker just for a webinar, consider offering $750 – $1,500 for one of their usual presentations.

What other words would you include in this hiring professional speaker jargon list? What is your most memorable story from securing professional speakers?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Hurt and sgnewsfeed, Zerista Pro. Zerista Pro said: RT: Hiring A Professional Speaker Jargon Buster Part 2: Words N-Z: For the inexperienced, hiri… http://bit.ly/9QLO1p #eventprofs […]

  2. mike mcallen says:

    Awesome post. In the past I was put to task to hire many types of speakers, bands and talent for corporate events. I wish I had this post back then. Great job.
    One story about riders is that the rock band Van Halen had a provision that a bowl of candy M&M’s would be present in the dressing room and that all the brown M&M’s were removed. Van Halen did this not to be a pain in the ass, but to see if the promoter read the rider thoroughly. If they took out the brown M&M’s they knew that they were on top of things and would not have to worry about the technical aspects as much. Interesting things I have found in riders – Packs of Tubesocks, extra small condoms, cheese whiz and my favorite-Diana Ross rider stated she needed full coffee service on each of the 4 landings on the stairs from her green room to the stage… Of course she did not use any of them. 🙂
    Again, really great 2 speaker posts, wish I had them 15 years ago.


    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for sharing those stories. They really provide some insight into what some marquee names expect from the buyer! I’ve had similar stories with one marquee name listing in her rider that the green room was to be painted pink just for her. A different famous headliner expected a specific size vanity, lighted mirror, a bottle of a specific brand of wine, a fruit plate with grapes, bananas and apples and the green room’s walls covered with black drape. Like you, I learned the hard way on negotiating, handling and managing onsite the marquee names.

      Thanks for reading and sharing! Always appreciate hearing from you.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *