What to Include in a Speaking Contract

By Laura Petherbridge



In my early speaking years I didn’t use a contract. I assumed that it was unnecessary.

I was wrong.

Learning the hard way often hones your skills. Most of my events are conducted in a church. Therefore, the majority of my tips are geared toward that audience.


Here is what I suggest to include when creating a contract between a speaker and a host.


At the Top Host Details

  • Your name, title, web address and contact information
  • The host name, address, web site and phone number
  • Event address if different from host
  • The host’s contact person or event coordinator/chairman, phone numbers, and e-mails.
  • Name and phone of transportation person if different.

Event Details

  •  Date and time of each presentation
  •  Number and length of presentations
  • Title of speaking topic (s)
  • Speaking fee to be paid for these presentations-If an honorarium I state “Laura agrees to waive her normal speaking fee in lieu of an honorarium.”
  • That air travel, lodging, airport shuttle and meals are in addition to the speaking fee

Logistical Details-I list exactly what we have agreed upon. For me this includes:

  • A microphone and sound technician (I can’t tell you the number of times I have arrived and there is no mic, or there is a mic but no one knows how to turn on the sound system)
  • Each participant will receive a handout (I send a master before the event and host is required to duplicate)
  •  2- 6 ft book tables located in a high traffic spot near my event.
  •  A volunteer to work the table who is able to arrive at least 30 minutes before the event.
  • All sales and receipts belong to the speaker (some events/churches expect you to give them a percentage)
  • My messages may NOT be duplicated or sold. (Selling my messages is how I make my living therefore I do not allow other duplications unless previously agreed upon.)
  • Deposit : I book my own flights. Therefore, I request a non-refundable deposit that will cover the flight amount should the host cancel.
  • Cancellation Policy: If host cancels event less than 60 days out I request a $500 payment. This doesn’t leave time for me to book another event, therefore they are paying for taking that date off my calendar and keeping me from earning income.
  • If they cancel less than 30 days out they pay the entire speaking amount plus any costs that have been incurred (such as shipping product).

I added all of this after a very large church I had spoken at 3 times invited me back to speak for 5 days, each day to a different large group. (Singles, women, divorce prevention, divorce recovery). Four days before I was to fly there one pastor called and cancelled—all of it. I had purchased and shipped a LARGE quantity of product, which cost me a great deal of money. That huge financial loss taught me that I had to protect myself. I send out a special thanks to author and speaker, Mary Southerland, for her encouragement and advice during that season. I almost stepped off the speaking platform, and she sent the comfort and insight I needed.


  • I include the phrase “This agreement transfers to new leadership and must be signed by a staff person, not a volunteer.” (Churches often change staff and you want to make sure the commitment is honored even under new leadership.) I once had a volunteer sign, then the church would not agree to pay. She did not have the authority to hire a speaker.
  • Signature of Staff Person/date-signed and printed.
  • I include the date the deposit must be paid, that the balance is due the day I speak, and my fax number and address so they can send original with the deposit check.

I pray this has helped others to create or fine tune their own contract. It brings peace of mind, limits surprises and allows everyone involved to clearly understand the commitment. www.LauraPetherbridge.com 


3 thoughts on “What to Include in a Speaking Contract

Richard Mabry

April 11, 2013 - 12 : 57 : 37

Laura, Thanks for the very thorough (and, for me, thought-provoking) information about speaking contracts. I doubt that I’ll ever get to that stage in my ministry, but if I ever do, you can be assured I’ll dig out this information. Just goes to show–even dealing with churches isn’t a fireproof situation.


Laura Petherbridge

April 11, 2013 - 13 : 10 : 11

Thanks, Richard. I’m so glad it provided insight!! Blessings, Laura


Marti Pieper

April 11, 2013 - 15 : 27 : 45

I feel the same way as Richard. And as someone who, years ago, didn’t always use contracts in my writing relationships, I can see why speaking contracts are essential. They protect both the speaker and the venue. And besides that, they’re biblical. After all, God made some significant contracts with His people. Scripture calls them covenants, but they’re the same thing. Thanks, Laura!


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