Written By: Sophie Warwick.
At The Thoughtful Co, we coach self-employed women in setting market appropriates rates for their services. A key part of sticking to those rates is being able to confidently communicate your hook and navigate external biases that may exist in your field. To learn more about her own experience in professional coaching and speaking, we reached out to Tami Adams who founded TA Speakers Management, a boutique keynote speaker booking, management & coaching company.
1. Can you tell us about what led you to start your business in September 2020 and how it’s evolved and grown over the last few years?
Consider me a victim of the COVID-19 employment impacts. Unfortunately given the decimation of the events and speaking industry, with all events and meetings being cancelled in March 2020, I lost my job along with many others. It was not easy, but I have always believed when life knocks you down, it’s important to get back up and try again. There are always going to be failures in life, even if it’s not due to our own personal faults. It’s about how we deal with it and choose to move forward.
When I was reflecting on what I love, what brings me joy and what I was most passionate about, I knew it was staying in the speaking industry (I had worked for a large Canadian Speakers Agency prior for 10 years). I knew I belonged here and didn’t want to do anything else. I had been burned by working so hard for an organization only for it to all be gone in seconds. However, I still held a drive to truly make an impact and create something of my own. Both reasons led to starting my own business and I am not looking back.
It has not been easy by any means, but holy has it been rewarding! I have become so much more self aware since starting a business – it really teaches you to grow up and shows you truly what we as humans are capable of. The biggest success I believe has come from being relevant, adding value whenever the opportunity arises, living my purpose and passion and putting good out into the world. Not allowing setbacks or negativities to get in my way.
Currently, I am having a new website created to be released sometime in March along with some exciting new speakers I will be working with. Here’s to continuing to change lives and create kick-butt impact for others through the power of speech!
2. We work with our clients to support them in communicating their unique value when discussing rates with their clients. How do you find that advocating for yourself / your speakers applies to professional coaching and speaking?
Advocating for yourself is not easy, especially as a woman. However, it is possible with a little practice and unapologetic confidence in what you offer and the value you bring to others.
Speaking and Coaching takes a lot of thought leadership, education and practice – it’s all about value first. Leaning into the exact themes and objectives the client wants to relay though the speech and then having the speaker customize from there. Explaining everything and educating the clients first is key, and then negotiating from there. If needed, it can be offering low or no cost items in replace of reducing the fees.
Advocacy is key when it comes to speaking and coaching. Otherwise, you run a risk of doing a lot of work for little and burning yourself out while not charging what you truly deserve and all you put into it. The key is to showcase what makes you unique and why the client should pick you as a speaker instead of the many others out there – how do you stand out?
3. What internal barriers have you had to go through to ensure you’re charging what you deserve?
HA! Many. Imposture Syndrome (feeling like a fraud and not enough), negative mindset, being too hard on myself (not focusing enough on what I am achieving), my own personal perceived value (lack of confidence in what I offer) and simply being uncomfortable placing a price on myself. It’s funny as I have no issues advocating for others and their value, but it’s always harder when it comes to ourselves. This can be especially difficult for women speaking to a more male-dominated industry. As women, we are often taught growing-up to be polite, kind, not to speak up, not to be boastful or bossy. This was how it was for me. I have seen this changing over the years, and it is getting better for women.
4. Do you notice any difference in fees between different genders of speakers?
This one is trickier to track, but I have felt in conversations with clients, and looking at what male and female speakers make, that men do tend to make more than women. It’s not exactly even. It is harder for a woman than a man to raise their fees consistently beyond $10,000 in Canada. Some biases do still exist. This can also go back to the confidence of women to ask for more and stand in their true value as men tend to have an easier time doing so.
5. How do you ensure you’re holding true to your rates and fees for your speakers and yourself?
Not easy, but 100% possible! Personally, when it comes to my fees for speaking, I have tapped into a more niche market that is not overly saturated with speaker coaches. This is helpful to charge reasonable rates and given I have an extensive background in the speaking and events space (12 years+) on both sides of the business (those who book and those who manage speakers) makes me unique and able to demand the right fees. I am also always getting creative to make it work out and find ways if someone cannot afford my rates. I am pretty good at explaining to others all the work and time I dedicate to them. They understand speaking is an art and I have more education on this topic than they do. Often, they have not had any or much formal speaking training and have built their talks on their own. Having someone like me is a game-changer for them.
When it comes to advocating for speakers’ fees and value, often there is a misunderstanding of all that goes into creating and delivering a powerful engaging, educational and entertaining speech. Clients will say “that much for only 15 minutes” but they do not understand that creating a shorter speech is harder as you have less time for it to be impactful. Part of my job is often to educate clients to understand what it takes to create an amazing speech. Outlining the time, expertise and experience required to do so. I help them understand the difference in value and quality between a lower fee and higher fee speaker based on what they look for – I embody practice makes perfect!
The methodology I use is outlining the value that they get and how the sessions will be customized to them specifically. I help the client understand the average rates professional level speakers charge and where the speaker they want is at. We then work to get creative if needed to find ways to make it work for all. The speaker gets what they deserve, and the client makes it work on their end.
6. What do you hope for the future of women speakers and the profession as a whole?
My hope and mission as part of my business is to bring more women and diverse speakers to the stage. It is still a male-dominated industry and as women we have so much to share that is powerful and meaningful and transformational for others. Recently, I have seen more and more women get the courage to stand-up and say, “hey I have something to contribute,” and it makes me very excited. My hope is that more, and more women will continue to get out of their own way and build the confidence to contribute to the world through speech. Magic happens when we put ourselves out there and embrace our confidence and uniqueness! So, bring it on bring it on for all of those who identify as ladies – we are waiting for you!
Tami Adams is a dedicated and passionate Speaker Agent, Manager, Coach & Events Professional who thrives in bringing people together for engaging and life-changing experiences. You can learn more about Tami’s Speaker Management & Coaching Company on her website: https://www.taspeakersmanagement.com. And if you’d like support with advocating for yourself in terms of compensation, please reach out to The Thoughtful Co at firstname.lastname@example.org sign up for a one-on-one session here - we would love to support.