Top 10 Ways to Politely Decline an Offer to Speak... or turn a freebie request into a paying one

by Andrea Reynolds, Copyright 2000-2017


Here's an excerpt from my Special Report ,"Secrets for Setting and Quoting Your Speaking Fees."

It happens. The event just doesn't appeal to you and you don't want to do it. It's often a question of money, but it may also be because you don't support the aims of the organization, or it's too far away, or perhaps you have safety concerns about the location. You don't have to give your real reason.

What's the best way to say
no with the least amount of stress? Say it clearly, say it once, say it without being defensive, and if possible allow the other person to "save face". Depending on the circumstances choose the reply which rmakes the most sense.


10. "I wish I could," (smile) "but I can't."

9. "I'm sorry, but I stopped speaking for free about twenty years ago."

8. "I'm sure you can understand: If the servers at the luncheon get paid, I need to be paid too."

7. "If the members pay a fee to attend I'd be happy with a per person fee which represents ___%."

6. "That works for speakers who receive a salary from their employer. Sadly I don't. Speaking IS my livelihood."

5. "I'm not a gambler. Working for free in hopes of receiving some promotional value down the road is too speculative for me."

4. "I give two free presentations a year to nonprofit charitable organizations who raise money for the _________ (needy, etc.) Would your organization qualify?" (Probably not.)

3. "I'm sorry, but I'm already booked for an event that day." (Or an event across the country the previous day which doesn't give you enough time to get to the second event.)

2. "That's not a subject I speak on, but I know another speaker who would be perfect for you." (If you're smart, you could even work it so you get a finder's fee from the other speaker. Contact me and we can probably make this happen.)

And the number one way to politely decline....

1. "I let my agency handle all discussions like this. Would you call
Andrea Reynolds International Speaker Agency and speak to my agent?" (You don't need to be represented by ARISA to have us negotiate the occasional, sticky situation. We probably can get you what you want.)