on speaking terms

My current terms for speaking engagements are as follows. Please read them in full if you are considering hiring me.

I am publishing these terms with a view to transparency, following the principles I set out in my May 2012 post entitled “Of Fame and Money: Paying BDSM Presenters.” I encourage other presenters to publish the rates they charge or the compensation arrangements they ask for, as well. We don’t all have to do this the same way, and I think having more of this information available for all to see will show the range of compensation options out there so that people can make clear decisions about what they want to ask for and offer as presenters and organizers.

The two-sentence summary

I need to have my travel expenses fully covered, my lodgings provided and my minimum fee paid. Please do not ask me to work for free.

Logistics

Travel expenses: One return economy-class flight or train ticket to wherever you want me to show up, plus cab fare or a ride from the station to wherever I’ll be staying. I’m practiced at finding cheap tickets and prefer to do my own bookings. I will provide all receipts. Unless absolutely necessary, I do not travel by bus. Unfortunately, at this time I do not have a driver’s license or a car.

Accommodations: Hotel accommodations are greatly appreciated, but not strictly necessary. If a hotel is not within your budget, I am happy to be billeted with a community member under the following conditions: a smoke-free space, a quiet room with a door that closes and which is free of pets and pet hair, a reliable wifi connection, and (depending on the length of my stay) a bit of space in the fridge. If the location where I’m asked to stay is not within easy walking distance of the venue where I’ll be speaking, I will need a ride to the venue or coverage of cab fare. Assistance finding local restaurants and grocery stores that can accommodate my dietary needs is appreciated (please ask me for details).

Speaking rates

The following rates apply to my existing list of workshops (31 topics and counting). If you would like me to provide a specifically tailored one-time keynote address, a longer training session (half- or full-day, full weekend, etc.), a workshop on a special  topic not on my existing workshop list, or other types of teaching, please contact me to inquire about terms.

If you are a grant- or government-funded organization (such as a student organization or health care institution): My rate for one 90-minute to 2-hour workshop or lecture is on a sliding scale, $250 to $500. Note that $250 is the absolute minimum amount I can be paid that compensates me adequately for the time I spend handling pre-workshop logistics, traveling, prepping my workshop, delivering it, and handling feedback afterward. I ask that you act in good faith and, rather than trying to haggle down, instead bid as high as your organization can afford within that range, with the understanding that I will give scheduling preference to those who offer near the top of the scale or beyond it.

If you are a profit-making group (such as a sex shop or commercial sex conference): My rate for a 90-minute to 2-hour workshop is a minimum of $250 or 50% of the door take, whichever is higher. If your store policy is more generous than this, wonderful! In that case, we’ll go with your policy. Most profit-making groups charge between $25 and $35 a head for my workshops. If you wish to charge less, or offer a sliding scale, bear in mind that you may need to ensure higher attendance to cover my minimum rate.

If you are a community sexuality centre or sex conference: The rates set out in the above two paragraphs apply, depending on whether you are grant-funded or charge admission.

If you are a grassroots community group (such as a local kink group): If I am already in your area to deliver a workshop, I am happy to teach workshops for local grassroots groups. In such cases, I ask for a minimum of $50 an hour for each hour I’m asked to teach or 50% of the door take, whichever is higher, as well as transportation to and from the event venue. Generally my minimum rate is easy to cover by asking for a minimal door charge. Some groups are not accustomed to doing this; for such groups, rather than asking me to make an exception and teach at my own cost, I would ask that you make an exception and ask your participants for a small fee. Note that for this type of workshop I need to work within the constraints of the group that is covering my travel expenses, and I cannot develop custom-tailored material.

If you are a non-profit group with a minimal budget serving a marginalized population (such as a queer youth support program): If I am already in your area to deliver a workshop, I am happy to negotiate a workshop with your group for minimal cost. Please contact me for details. Note that for this type of workshop I need to work within the constraints of the group that is covering my travel expenses, and I cannot develop custom-tailored material.

Types of payment I do not accept: The possibility that I might get laid with your organizers or attendees, while certainly flattering, is not accepted in lieu of payment. Neither are the possibility of increased fame and visibility, nor that of having a fun time at your event.  Those are side benefits that I may not be looking to enjoy, and that can’t be guaranteed even if I were.

Exceptions to the above terms: Yes, they do happen. They are very rare, they are based on my personal motivations and priorities, and they are entirely at my discretion. Please don’t ask me to teach at my own cost unless you have a very strong reason to believe I’ll be interested.

Payment methods

I accept cash, cheques and direct bank transfers. I can provide an invoice as needed. Please note that I charge 13% HST on all my work.

Promotion

What I’ll do: For any speaking engagement, unless we come to an alternate arrangement in writing, I commit to two forms of promotional assistance: listing the workshop on my blog in the Workshops section within a week of concluding our arrangements, including a link to the event registration page; and tweeting about it at least twice (with links) via @sexgeekAZ—once when we conclude our arrangements, once during the week before the event, and possibly more. Note that my Twitter account has over 1200 public followers and simultaneously publishes to my personal Facebook page where I have over 1200 personal friends. I am also available for media interviews (web, print, radio and TV). Please give me at least 48 hours’ notice for an interview, or ask the media agency in question to do the same; I can’t guarantee my availability otherwise.

What I ask hiring organizations to do: I ask that hiring organizations commit to handling the bulk of advertising. Compared to me, a local organization will almost always have more contacts in their area who might be interested in the workshop, as well as an existing marketing process (newsletter, posters, in-store flyers, Facebook fan page, etc.). If you are a new organization or otherwise have little experience with promotion, I am happy to put on my community organizer hat and provide ad hoc advice on what is likely to work best to ensure good turnout. Note that this may be limited to two or three e-mail or phone conversations; I cannot take responsibility for a group’s promotional campaign.

Written and visual material: I provide my own workshop titles, workshop blurbs and presenter bio. The basic versions of these are available on my website in the About section (bio) and the Workshops section (titles and blurbs). I can tailor these to your specifications in terms of length if necessary, and to some extent in terms of content; please ask me to do so as needed, and don’t do it for me. I can also provide a recent photograph upon request. If you are aiming to use visuals other than a photo of me in your promotion, I ask that you run them by me to ensure that they are appropriate for the topic and message of the workshop.

Verbal introductions: If I will be introduced by someone, I ask that you either read out my written bio as-is, or allow me to see the text you will be using ahead of time, or simply discuss the main points to be mentioned in the intro. My aim is not to infringe on an emcee’s or organizer’s creativity, but to ensure that the details of what they say are accurate and the focus appropriate to the workshop.

Setup

Equipment: For most of my workshops, I require a whiteboard or flipchart and several markers. Unless otherwise negotiated, I do not use audiovisual technology in my teaching. For larger venues, I ask event organizers to ensure that adequate microphones and sound systems are available. For workshops that require props, I often provide my own, but sometimes that is not possible. This will be negotiated in writing on a case-by-case basis.

Seating and accessibility: When possible I prefer to set chairs in a circle or two concentric circles rather than in schoolroom-style rows, with two to ten seats near the front reserved for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and with impaired vision or mobility.

If ASL interpreters will be used, I am happy to discuss terminology and workshop content with them beforehand, and to share my teaching notes, but I cannot provide full workshop scripts. Most of my workshops include group discussion; for interpreters I am happy to arrange seating in a way as to facilitate their ability to handle this.

If a demonstration is to be included in the workshop, adequate space and furniture must be provided by the organizers as appropriate. We can negotiate specific details in writing.

Handouts: I do not generally provide handouts, but I can do so upon request, and may wish to do so depending on workshop content. If you would like me to provide recommended reading lists or other information, please advise me in writing at least two weeks before the event. I ask that event organizers be responsible for photocopying written material, and I commit to providing it in the form of a Word file at least 48 hours before the event.

Demonstrations

Demo helpers: For workshops that include physical demonstrations, if I have a partner traveling with me or existing contacts in the city where I’ll be teaching, I may be able to provide my own demo helper(s). Otherwise, I may require assistance from the event organizers to recruit demo helpers appropriate to the task. Following recruitment, I will need at least two weeks’ time prior to the workshop to negotiate parameters with demo helpers, usually by e-mail. If a demo helper needs to cancel, I may then need to cancel the demo portion of the workshop (it will be made up for with other teaching techniques). I may also cancel a demo at any time for my own reasons (my physical health, lack of comfort with the demo helper in question, etc.). Within reason I am happy to make alternate arrangements, but I will not compromise the integrity of negotiations or the safety of my helpers or myself in order to provide a demo. Better no demo at all than one poorly done!

If a given organization wishes to compensate demo helpers, I think that’s great! It’s not commonly done, but there is an argument that it should be. I haven’t yet clarified my own position on this question, so I leave that in the hands of the event organizers and the demo helpers to negotiate.

Additional risk: If a demonstration is going to include the use of biohazardous materials (sharps, etc.), fire or other risky elements, I will negotiate the specific safety details with the organizers. If an organizer fails to meet the safety parameters we negotiate, or if for any reason I am unable to meet my portion of those parameters, I will cancel the demonstration portion of the workshop.

Nudity and sex: If a demonstration is going to require nudity or sexual contact, I ask that organizers ensure the venue is a place where such contact is legally acceptable and falls within the terms of acceptable use set out by the venue owner. I also ask that measures be taken to ensure the privacy of the venue—curtains or paper over windows, doors that close, monitors to ensure that entrance is limited to those who are aware of the workshop content, etc. Specifics can be discussed as needed. I cannot be held responsible for conducting a demo that violates such terms if I am assured otherwise by the event organizers.

Cancellations

It is extremely rare that I cancel a speaking engagement, and I basically do so only for dire health reasons when absolutely necessary. Because this has happened only once or twice in my entire speaking career, I’ve never explicitly negotiated cancellation terms with anyone—a privilege, I know. It is also extremely rare that a hiring group has cancelled on me, but it has happened once or twice, and not always in ways I have found to be respectful or fair. With that in mind, I’m aware that I need to come up with a clear policy on how to deal with such things, but for now I’m still mulling over exactly what that policy should be. I’ll get back to you on this one!

A final note

I reserve the right to update these terms at any time, and to negotiate for different terms at my discretion based on a broad range of factors. I will always honour written negotiations and I always carry out those negotiations in good faith and with full transparency. I ask the same of all individuals and groups who wish to hire me.

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