Legal Thoughts For Speakers

By Dr. Gloria "Jo" Floyd 

Greetings again my fellow speakers!  I have been speaking professionally since 1971 throughout the United States.  One of the blessings of that is that I have heard a lot of horror stories about and from speakers who don't think about the legalities relevant to their work.  I am not a lawyer and I am not giving legal advice.  Go to your attorney for that!  But let me share thoughts on legalities for you to confer with your legal representative about, or for you to think deeply on.  Let's you and I reflect or stay abreast of these issues. 

  •   WE SHOULD ONLY ACCEPT SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS FOR WHICH WE ARE QUALIFIED TO                                                                     SPEAK

If the requested topic is really something we don't know anything about or very little, contemplate how our signed agreement or contract might play out when we can't deliver.  I am sure we have all at one time or another been there and done that.  Let's stop. 

  •   LET US NOT SLANDER OR LIBEL ANYONE IN WRITTEN OR ORAL FORM

We especially need to be careful of this when speaking in front of a gazillion people or writing for a large audience of readers.  We probably should not make unfounded comments or jokes, as well, against or about any company or business. 

  •   WE SHOULD REMEMBER TO DELIVER WHAT WE SAID WE WOULD DO

Think about the ramifications of not delivering what we promised on our speaking career, the way we would be commented on by the audience or meeting planner, and the ramifications we face in not living up to our contract.  Let's all remember we are after repeat business, not bad press that we ourselves initiate. 

  •   READ ALL AGREEMENTS OR CONTRACTS THOROUGHLY, ESPECIALLY THE FINE PRINT                                                           BEFORE WE SIGN!

Let's not be so excited to be hired that we give away the store, agree to going to Podunk (oops watch that slur on Podunk), or agree to speak to trained monkeys…nope guys you have not already spoken to trained monkeys… and those were not deranged sad, unintelligent humans who didn't like your speech and... watch those descriptors…There might be some of your self described monkeys reading this article…oh oh, I just might have stepped on some reader's foot. "Sorry!!" and yes guys I do mean it. 

  •    BE REMINDED THAT WE SHOULD WATCH THE USE OF OTHERS' FULL NAMES OR      
           COMPANY EVEN WHEN WE SAY NOTHING WE THINK OF AS WRONG

Some people may get offended when their name comes across the air waves via T.V. or radio, print medium, the world wide web or the podium.  I have heard, for example, ministers, speakers, and others give an example of something and begin with statements like this: 

         "I had this dumb friend in my ninth grade high school, John Moore.  He was dumb as dirt!  He was probably the stupidest person I have ever met.   I learned from John how stupid, stupid can be…!"  This may have made great commentary but I would guess if John heard it, he wouldn't take it too kindly!

         Now "Sally Johnson she was the most pious person and pious is just above stupid in my book.  That girl would not even use the word 'no'…" 

You get my point. Careful!  Careful!  Let's don't do this. 

  •   LET US NEVER, EVER, STEAL SOMEONE ELSE'S WORK KNOWINGLY OR UNKNOWLINGLY

You could be doing this without knowing it.  We can even do it easily by repeating to a group a signature story we heard.  I did this once to make a point about resilience as the speaker the week before had shared.  I even shared her name thinking that was adequate and that it was her signature story.  A fellow NSAer there to speak for my company quietly shared with me later that we should not do that.   So let's pay close attention to anything we use in our speeches to be sure it is our own, we have permission to use it, that we give credit always to the source, and that we don't get ourselves into any legal entanglements.   In another example, I worked with several other speakers in a several city held conference.  I will never forget a comment made on one of the evaluation forms that said, he stole (name's) work item by item and never mentioned the author's name and it was true.

Recently I received a brief note from someone who had the word "Thrival" trademarked.  He noted that I speak on survival, and shared that since the words were similar he wanted to make me aware of his "thirval" word ownership.  I don't use the word thrival but some of you readers might.  I appreciated the notification.  So all of us should be careful in this realm of trade mark. 

  •    CONSIDER A DISCLAIMER ABOUT YOUR SPEECH OR WORK

In manuals that I write, I share in the front of the manual, and strategic places throughout, that I am not giving advice of a legal, administrative or other type.  I stress the need for the reader or hearer of my words to seek out their own advisors, pay them, and to only use items from my work or speech that they adopt as their own by separate and distinct choice.  I write or speak things like "Never adopt any position, you are not assuming for full fall out responsibility."  "I am not your paid lawyer, consultant, or expert."  "Please be reminded that you should read and implement this data thoroughly and only then should you consider it for your use."  "I am just highlighting this information.  You must read all 30 pages yourself to be fully accountable."  Do you understand where I am coming from? 

  •    LET'S NOT MAKE UP ANSWERS AS WE GO

When speaking we may at anytime be asked a question for which we have no answer.  Let us never make up  
one.  Learn to say something simple like "Now I thought I had heard every question.  I'm stumped.  Does anyone
know the answer?" "I don't know.  Write that question out and I will fax the answer back tomorrow."  Or
something easy like "I don't know."  There is no human that knows everything…Nope not her or him either, as
you are thinking right now. 

  •   WE NEED TO KEEP OUR MATERIALS CURRENT AND UP-TO-DATE.

I had a request from a group that I was involved with 17 years ago who asked that I update my bio data with them and to send along a current picture to be along side the last one in the reunion update.  I immediately started thinking about my current picture, hoping it was not the same today.  I squeaked by about 15 years - the age of my current photo.  Well that's not good.  Nor is perhaps our old data we still espouse without update, new graphics, upgraded titles, etc.  Let's not do that! 

  •   AND FINALLY, LET US ALL PAY THE IRS, DON'T CLAIM UNALLOWED DEDUCTIONS, PAY OUR JUST DEBTS, KEEP MAXIMAL RECORDS (BILLS, CHECKS, RECEIPTS, ETC.)   HAVE A STANDBY ATTORNEY, TAX ADVISOR/LAWYER, ACCOUNTANT, AND A GOOD MINUTIA   
        LOVING ASSISTANT.  IN OTHER WORDS, SOME PEOPLE TO KEEP YOU LEGAL!!

 Keep On Speaking - Legally Please!!

 2000-2011 Dr. Gloria "Jo" Floyd & NCEHS, 14439 N.W.MILITARY HWY #108 PMB 615 SAN ANTONIO, TX 78231

 

1999-2008- Dr. Gloria "Jo" Floyd, NCEHS, 14439 N.W. Military highway, #108, PMB 615 San Antonio, TX 78231 [O] 210-698-8700, [F] 210-698-8701,
email:  info@ncehs.com; www.ncehs.com; or www.DrGloriaJoFloyd.com
2008 All Rights Reserved

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