It happened to a friend not long ago: she showed up at the event where she had been hired to speak and met the organizer – who was wearing that patented sheepish grin that says “Now, don’t be mad, and above all please let me leave this room alive.” It turned out that my friend’s cheque wasn’t ready, that there were still a few hoops for it to jump through, but honest, it’ll be there soon! Five, six weeks, tops. Three months at the outside.
I’ve been lucky so far: I’ve been treated very well whenever I’ve spoken. Others haven’t been so lucky – and it isn’t always some last-minute hitch with money.
Sometimes it’s the empty room that you were told would be packed with cheering throngs. (“I don’t understand it – we posted about your speech on Craigslist. Once. Two months ago.”) Or an LCD projector that requires a dongle made in North Korean during the 1990s to Kim Jong-Il’s personal specifications. (“There must be even more pins!“) Or a little switch-up: “I know we asked you to talk about The Vision to Win, buuuuut… the last three speakers all spoke on that. So would you mind talking about advances in power density for molten salt batteries in electric vehicles instead?”