Without a doubt, booking a speaker can take your event to the next level! However, it can often become overwhelming when you start to look at the fine details within the legal agreement. This is the agreement that is securing both you and the speaker throughout the process, after all. It’s important! 

The real question is, where do you even start? We’ve put together three musts when it comes to developing your Speaker Agreement so that you - and your speaker are legally secure while working together.

 Cancellation Policy

Unfortunately, things happen. Events get cancelled. Speakers have medical emergencies. It’s so important for your Speaker Agreement to have a cancellation policy within the contract. If you have to cancel the event, will you still pay them? If your speaker cancels on you, are they held accountable? These are all questions you must ask yourself and include to ensure security. To help pave the way for you, here’s an example:

“In the event this Agreement is cancelled by either party 30 days or more before the date of the performance, the liability of the canceling party to the other shall be limited to Speaker’s non-refundable travel expenses (if cancellation is by organization name) or to the advertising, promotional, and ticketing expenses already incurred by organization name (if cancelled by Speaker). Except as may otherwise be provided herein if either party cancels the Agreement within 29 days of the performance date, the liability of the canceling party shall be one half of the Performance Fee, it being agreed that in this regard actual damages to the aggrieved party on account of cancellation shall be difficult, if not impossible, to calculate, and that this amount represents a reasonable amount of liquidated damages and not a penalty. This agreement may be cancelled at any time by mutual written agreement of the parties.” (Vanderbilt University)


It may not be all about the money, but who are we kidding? The stipend that comes along with credibility for speaking is a big persuader as to if they will speak at your event or not. Clearly defining which expenses you will be covering will be imperative to planning- and imperative that you define that in your agreement. To ensure less confusion and questions down the road, make sure you outline the following:

  • Travel
  • Hotel Accomodations
  • Ground Transportation
  • Meals
  • Conference Pass(es)
  • Payment

Permission to Photograph or Record

Your speakers are going to have some AMAZING content. Therefore, you’re probably going to want to record and photograph them to use for post-show marketing, advertising, etc. You may want to consider including something like the following:

“The parties agree that organization name may make audio and video recordings of Speaker’s performance and include portions of such recordings or photography in media publications.  Photographs, video, or recordings made by organization name will be used for social media, advertisements, printing materials, etc. Organization name agrees that it will not use flash photography and will not broadcast or distribute Speaker’s performance in its entirety without Speaker’s written permission (signed contract).” (Vanderbilt University)

Protecting your company as well as protecting the speaker will go a long way. The legal piece to creating a Speaker Agreement can tend to be a not-so-fun part, but when the conference is said and done, you’ll be glad you had it clearly defined! Looking for more conference tips? Check out our guide: Your 2019 Conference Survival Guide below.

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