Partially Paying Society Speakers?

Is it ethical to withhold 25% of the speaker’s fee?

Surely any professional genealogy speaker worth their salt can speak for 15 minutes on any topic extemporaneously! 😮

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After a conversation mentioning a 45 minute genealogy presentation and 15 minute Q&A, I received the following private message, quoted in part with permission:

“…after the 45 minute presentation there were no questions or comments, so our presenter said “OK, thank you” then packed up her computer and left. We all sat there in stunned silence.  I felt like we paid $175 for an hour of the presenter’s time and should have received it. Is it ethical to withhold 25% of the speaker’s fee?”


Two thoughts actually. 

THE PROGRAM CHAIR is the facilitator and should have spoken up to thank the presenter, then commented on one or two points to prime the conversation pump.  They know most of the attendees, and can draw them out by saying things like “Joe, I’ll bet the addition to that Irish database will help with your great-grandparent research. What is the time period again?” Once you get a person talking about their research, it’s hard to stop ‘em. 


  • Ask related questions of the audience 
  • Spotlight the local FHC Director where the database may be readily accessed.
  • Mention an additional resource not discussed in the presentation.
  • Inquire about software choices by raise of hand,
  • then point out these are the folks who can help you learn more of the cool options your genealogy program offers. (I usually do this before the meeting starts to set people at ease.)
  • Just plain have FUN interacting with the people in the room. 🤗


Isn’t it our job as presenters to take that hour and inspire attendees? Let’s be personable and approachable. Just saying.

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