What should my speaker contract cancellation clause include?

You’ve decided you want to charge for your speaking and you’ve researched the correct contract template for yourself. Now you need to ensure it explains your requirements exactly. So what should your speaker contract cancellation clause include?


“The Contracts Lady” this is a question I’ve been asked many times is “what do I need to make sure is included in my speaker contract cancellation clause?”  I appreciate it can be confusing so I wanted to review the top 5 tips to think about so you get the right speaker cancellation clause in your contract for you.


Here I am going to address the 4 most important factors to consider when writing your speaker contract cancellation clause:

  1. How much notice is required
  2. Should events automatically get a full refund?
  3. Should you include a sliding scale cancellation fee?
  4. When should your sliding scale cancellation fee start?

How much notice is required in a speaker cancellation clause?

This depends on you. How long will it take you to resell that chunk of time you had set aside for this speaking gig?  Normally are your travel arrangements refundable and if so until when?  If you have to book a hotel, do you book a flexible room which you can cancel, or do you go for the cheapest option with no refund policy?


Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can start working the speaker cancellation policy that fits your requirements.


When an event cancels, should they automatically get a full refund?

Again, this depends on you, although here at The Contracts Lady I recommend that the time reservation fee (or deposit if you want to sound more corporate, give people the impression they can get their money back) is always non refundable.



Well you have committed to setting aside that time for that event, you’ve cleared your diary not just for the event itself but also for your travel time there and back and also for the  time you need to prepare that talk.


That’s a lot of your time you’ve blocked out of you calendar just for 1 event. When you tot up all time you’ve set aside for them, the chances of you managing to fill it all up with other paid work is (unless you are an super celebrity) very slim.


So why because they decide to cancel should you give them everything back?


Should my speaker contract cancellation clause be on a sliding scale?

Again, it depends. If you are going confident with 24 hours or less notice you don’t need payment for the time you’ve spent preparing, the travel you’ve paid for can be used for another purpose and you won’t lose anything other than the time you’ve allocated to be there, then maybe you don’t need a sliding scale.


However in the real world, a cancellation 24 hours or less will probably leave you massively out of pocket both in lost revenue and also in lost time. So in this case, YES a sliding scale should be used.


How do you calculate the sliding scale for your speaker contract cancellation clause?

Again, it depends. If you are such demand and you are good at reusing work you’ve prepared for another gig at other events, then you may not need to start too early with your speaker cancellation fees, so it could be apart from the time reservation fee, you don’t charge a cancellation fee until 2 weeks before.

cellation clause sliding scale

The closer to the gig the speaker contract is cancelled, the higher the proportion you keep

However, if you are not certain that the preparation you’ve done will be of value to other events, or you don’t think you will be able to resell your time at such short notice, you may want to start your sliding scale at 6 months notice, or even longer before the actual event.


Not sure what else should be included in your speaker contract?


Here’s my short video explaining the other terms you might want to review from your speaker contract template.


If you haven’t yet got your speaker contract template and you’re not sure where to go or how much it will cost, check out this blog covering just those problems.

In summary

Your speaker contract cancellation clause will depend on you, your ability to resell your time, your flexibility to reuse material you’ve already written and what else you could use that time for.


It all depends on you.


Now your turn:

  1. How do you calculate your timescale for your speaker contract cancellation clause?
  2. Are there any other factors you take into account when thinking about what fees to charge for cancellations?

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