I was invited to be a panel member in an investment seminar organized by a subsidiary of a large media company in Singapore. I asked the staff to telephone me. I received a call at the arranged time.

TKL – Can you tell me about the format of the panel discussion. How many panel members? How many people in the audience?

Staff – The panel will comprise of 4 people, including you, and a moderator. It will take 45 minutes. We expect about 200 people in the audience.

TKL – What do I get for spending the time? Can I distribute a flyer to the audience?

Staff – We do not pay any speaker or panel member. We will put your name in our website. Sorry, we cannot distribute your flyer. We have a paid service to distribute flyers.

TKL – You ask me to spend time and pay me nothing. You want to charge me for distributing a flyer?

Staff – Sorry, Mr. Tan. We don’t pay any of the speakers. So, we can’t pay you.

TKL – Do you get the venue (Suntec City) for free? I know that you probably have to pay a lot of money for the venue. Why can’t you spend some money to pay your speakers?

(The staff must think that I want the money for myself! I don’t need it, but other speakers or panel members are not so well off as me. Usually I donate the fee to the Financial Services Consumer Association)

TKL – I have been invited by a Swiss organization to speak to the participants of their management programme. Do you know how much they pay me for 45 minutes, including questions and answers?

Staff – Maybe $10,000?

TKL – No. Not so much. It is a small group. They pay me $2,000. And they have been re-inviting me for several years.

TKL – I know that you would probably have to pay $50,000 or more to invite a foreign speaker to give a keynote address. Why can’t you set aside a budget to give a modest fee to local speakers? Why do you want to exploit the local speakers to this extent?

Staff – Sorry, Mr. Tan. This is the local practice. We have been doing it like this for many years.

TKL – I will be posting this conversation in social media.

Staff – Mr. Tan, please don’t. I will get into trouble. If you don’t want to speak, OK. But please don’t post into social media.

TKL – Don’t worry. I won’t mention your name. But I want the public to know this is how our conference organisers treat local speakers.

Conclusion: I don’t have to say it. But you would know that I decline the invitation.

Facebook Post By: Tan Kin Lan


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