What You Need to Know About Speaker Agreements with Casey Handy-Smith

In this episode, we're chatting with Casey Handy-Smith to talk about whether you need a speaker agreement, what it should and shouldn't include, and more.

No one likes sending out legal documents. Especially when you've invited someone on to speak at your event, you want it to be fun and casual, and you already feel like you're asking a lot of them.

But, if you're thinking about skipping the speaker agreement for your virtual summit? Think again!

No matter how well you know your speakers or how certain you feel that no issues will come up, a speaker agreement is a must.

Today, we've brought in Casey Handy-Smith to share why you need a speaker agreement, what it should and shouldn't include, whether you can make it yourself or need an expert, and what other agreements should be a part of your event.

We'll let Casey take it from here!

First, realize that contracts are practical

As a lawyer, I'm sure you expect me to tell you that you need a contract.

But something that a lot of business owners overlook when it comes to contracts is the practical aspect. Contracts allow you to have conversations about things that you otherwise wouldn't think about.

A contract ensures that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. And that understanding is in writing.

Don't want to send your virtual summit speakers a contract?

I know it can be scary to send your summit speakers a contract. After all, you want it to be a fun and easy process for them without making things weird or uncomfortable.

Krista here, popping in to say that after sending about 60 speaker agreements out, the most pushback I've every received was someone wanting to clarify a clause and then ask that their presentation not be included in evergreen sales of the all-access pass. That's it! No one has ever decided to turn down the event because of a clear agreement.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that its business.

If the person receiving the agreement has a problem with you sending them a contract, that's probably not someone you want to be in business with anyway.

It's your responsibility to think about how to best protect your business, your brand, and your intellectual property so that you don't run into any issues down the road.

And in terms of a speaker agreement, you're protecting them as well.

If you're freaked out by sending the agreement, consider how freaked out you'd be if, after your event, you got an email from a speaker's attorney saying you didn't have permission to use their presentation? Yikes.

Don’t Write Your Own Contracts

The reason why you never want to write your own contracts is the number one reason why contracts get thrown out: they're poorly written.

It's something I see all the time when creatives try to draft their own agreements. They start piecing stuff together from various resources and there'll be one provision in the contract that says something and then a page later, something that completely contradicts it. 

Now we have an ambiguous contract, which means it's not going to be legally enforceable.

Although you may be super smart and have all the degrees, writing legal documents is a totally different ball game.

Steer clear of trying to draft your own contracts.

Key terms to include in your speaker agreements

Compensation

Compensation is an important thing to outline in your speaker agreements, regardless of how you pay your virtual summit speaker. This is because there are so many creative ways to pay speakers.

If you're not paying your speakers a speaker fee, but instead they have an opportunity to get commissions from an affiliate relationship, then you need that clearly outlined.

If you are paying a speaker fee, some speakers require deposits just to lock them in for that event. Make sure that you're outlining the deposits, the payment commissions, payment dates, and any other important details.

Also, consider what happens if the event is canceled for any reason. What does that look like now for the payment that you may have already paid the speaker?

Marketing material

When you host a summit, you'll get things from your speakers like their headshot, name, bio, business name, and more.

Generally, that information is then used on your summit website and in marketing material.

It's important that your agreement gives you the right to use those items.

Presentation Material

If you are doing a prerecorded summit and require speakers to create a presentation, you need to outline:

  • when you need to have it by
  • what things it should include
  • what things it should not include
  • who owns the rights to the presentation
  • how it can be used

Make sure to clearly outline whether you'll use the presentation outside of the scope of the summit. Is it something that you can use in an evergreen product? 

Other trademarks

Something else to consider is other trademarks that might be included in your speaker's presentations. For example, if they are wearing a shirt with a logo on it, you probably don't have the rights to be showing that logo in your summit.

In your agreement, make sure your speakers know to avoid that and have them confirm that they have rights to everything included in their presentation.

Other Legal Agreements for your virtual summit

In addition to speaker contracts, there are a few additional legal agreements that should be a part of your event:

  1. Privacy Policy: Since you'll be collecting names, email addresses, and payment information from your summit attendees, a privacy policy that states how that information will be used is a must.
  2. Terms of Use: Your terms of use should break down your refund policies, what users of your site and customers are agreeing to, etc.
  3. Sponsorship Agreement: If you're working with sponsors, you'll need an agreement that outline what that relationship will look like.
  4. Independent Contractors: If you have anyone helping you get your summit together, whether it's a graphic designer or virtual assistant, if you don't already have a contract with that person it's time to get one signed.

Biggest Takeaway

When it comes to agreements for your summit, start with the end in mind.

As creatives, there's a tendency to overlook the business aspect of doing things. We get these amazing ideas, and we want to go straight into execution mode, but you always want to start with the end in mind.

What you're doing right now, may not seem like a lot to you. It may seem like a small event that you're putting on, but you want to think about, where do you ultimately want your summit to be a year from now, two years from now? What's your vision for this?

Make sure that you're setting a good foundation from the beginning because you'll be surprised at how some of these things can come back on you, especially when you're talking about using people's content and images.

About Casey

Casey Handy-Smith is a contract law attorney who helps influencers and creative entrepreneurs who struggle with navigating the legal side of their online businesses and brands. Over the past 6 years, Casey has helped creatives negotiate fair deals while protecting and leveraging their creative assets with ironclad contracts. Beyond her work with 1-on-1 with clients, Casey also provides DIY contract templates for entrepreneurs needing instant clarity and confidence to legally protect their businesses.

Chandy Law  |  Speaker Agreement  |  Influencer Agreement Checklist

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In this episode, we're chatting with Casey Handy-Smith to talk about whether you need a speaker agreement, what it should and shouldn't include, and more.In this episode, we're chatting with Casey Handy-Smith to talk about whether you need a speaker agreement, what it should and shouldn't include, and more.
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