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Great communicators exert a great deal of influence over the lives of individuals, team members,
organizations, and communities locally and globally. With such impact, it is critical that we get it right.

Good leaders do well to follow the example of the National Speakers Association Founder. Cavett Robert,
CSP, CPAE created a culture of excellence for global speakers. “The Spirit of Cavett” is a call to action for
speakers to help one another in the quest for high standards. The NSA Code of Ethics guides us along the
path to mastery of the four Es of Speaker Competence: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise, and Ethics so that we can make a lasting, positive impact.

One of my favorite leaders is motivational speaker, humorist, and leadership expert Tim Durkin, CSP. He reminds us that the “NSA Code of Professional Ethics is a continuing condition of membership; it is not just one of the four competencies that can be taken in degrees.” (TimDurkin.com) The NSA Codes of Ethics are reproduced below for easy reference. (National Speakers Association. From the NSASpeaker.org website, June 2016, http://nsaspeaker.org.)

NSA CODE OF ETHICS

The purpose of this Code of Professional Ethics is to establish and maintain our brand, reputation, and
public confidence in the professionalism, dedication, and integrity of individual members of NSA, and the Association itself.

The characteristics of honesty, leadership, and stewardship are integral to the success of NSA and the
individual professional speaker.

Therefore, all members of NSA subscribe to this Code of Professional Ethics as a condition of membership, with the firm belief that each member will strive to uphold the values, reputation, and legacy of NSA. By doing so, members recognize the necessity to preserve and encourage fair and equitable practices among all who are engaged in professional speaking.

Violations of this Code are determined in accordance with the bylaws, policies, and procedures of NSA. Any disciplinary action instituted by NSA shall be binding and final upon the NSA member and without recourse to the Association, its officers, members of staff.”

ARTICLE 1 – REPRESENTATION

The NSA member has an obligation to oneself and to NSA to represent oneself truthfully, professionally and in a non-misleading manner. The NSA member shall be honest and accurate in presenting qualifications and experience in the member’s communication with others.

ARTICLE 2 – PROFESSIONALISM

The NSA member shall act, operate his/her business, and speak in a most professional and ethical manner so as neither to offend nor bring discredit to oneself, the speaking professional, or one’s fellow NSA members.

ARTICLE 3 – RESEARCH

The NSA member shall exert efforts to understand each client’s organization, approaches, goals, and culture in advance of a presentation in order to professionally apply one’s expertise to meet each client’s needs.

ARTICLE 4 – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The NSA member shall avoid using—either orally or in writing—materials, titles, or thematic creations
originated by others unless approved in writing by the originator.

ARTICLE 5 – RESPECT AND COLLEGIALITY

The NSA member shall maintain a collegial relationship with fellow members that is based on respect,
professional courtesy, dignity, and the highest ethical standards.

ARTICLE 6 – CONFIDENTIALITY

The NSA member shall maintain and respect the confidentiality of business or personal affairs of clients,
agents, and other speakers.

ARTICLE 7 – BUSINESS PRACTICES
The NSA member is obligated to maintain a high level of ethical standards and practices in order to assist in protecting the public against fraud or any unfair practice in the speaking profession, and shall attempt to eliminate from the profession all practices that could bring discredit to the speaking profession.

ARTICLE 8 – DIVERSITY

The NSA member shall not participate in any agreement or activity that would limit or deny access to the
marketplace to any other speaker, to a client, or to the public. This includes, but is not limited to, economic factors, race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or country of national origin of any party.

 

CASE STUDIES 

Case studies illustrate the eight principles of the National Speakers’ Association Code of Ethics. This is an excerpt a book I wrote for professional speakers, The Ethical Speaker.

REPRESENTATION
ARTICLE 1 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“Be impeccable with your word.”                                                 —don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
(Amber-Allen Publishing; Box edition, 2008.)

The ethical speaker is honest and transparent, and does not mislead or allow misrepresentations to stand uncorrected. Honest representation is all about being genuinely comfortable in our own skins, with our choices, accomplishments, limits, and missteps. It’s about being honest and accurate in presenting our qualifications, experience, and expertise in all methods of communication.

THE CASE OF THE MARLBORO MAN

A Phillip Morris and Company Marlboro ad campaign created by Leo Burnett Worldwide offers a tragic
example of misrepresentation. With scientific research noting harmful effects of smoking, filtered cigarettes were pitched as a “safer alternative” to unfiltered cigarettes.

Unfortunately, filtered cigarettes were not safe. With pseudo-science, complicated terminology, and the
emergence of the Marlboro Man, ads helped calm fears of smoking by encouraging the public to buy into
filters as a means of risk-reduction. Rugged cowboys, at one with nature, swept past public perceptions of filters as feminine. According to The Los Angeles Times, several Marlboro Men died young of smoking-related diseases. (Pierce, Matt. “At Least Four Marlboro Men Have Died of Smoking-Related
Diseases.” Los Angeles Times. http://latimes.com/nationnow/la-na-nn-malboro-men-20140127-story.html.)

RIGHTING A WRONG

One of the Marlboro Men, David Mclean, who died of lung cancer, became an anti-smoking activist,
testifying on behalf of anti-smoking legislation. Another, Eric Lawson, who died of Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD) appeared in anti-smoking commercials and publicly discussed the harmful
effects of smoking. Wayne McLaren, who died of lung cancer, participated in anti-smoking campaigns until his death at the age of 51.

His last words are reported to have been, “Take care of the children. Tobacco will kill you, and I am living proof of it.”

THE CASE OF THE SOUND SLEEPER

This gem is from motivational leadership and business speaker Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, Commander USN
(ret.),13 who says, “Doing the right thing makes it easier to sleep at night.” (Kelly, Mary, PhD, CSP, CDR,
USN (ret), productiveleaders.com)

“In 2009, I heard a speaker use a point in one of his talks that I had used since 1983 in the Navy. He also put it in one of his books. What did I do? Whenever I mention that point, I also say, ‘Speaker/author Blah Blah includes this in his book, XYZ.’ He was the first person who published it, so I give him credit. That is also how it works in academia. You may not be the first person with an idea, but if you are the first to publish it, you get credit. Taking the high road isn’t always the easiest road, but it is the right thing to do.”

COMMENTARY

In The Case of the Marlboro Man, the actors and real cowboys were asked to misrepresent the facts
regarding the safety of a product. Resisting potential rewards that come with misrepresenting our
qualifications, our values, life experience, military experience, or the facts are all ethical challenges that come with some lucrative speaking opportunities. In this case, the Marlboro Men demonstrated that it’s never too late to do the right thing. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do next that counts. What would you do if asked to speak up for something you knew was harmful or not right?

In The Case of the Sound Sleeper, Mary demonstrates a key point of the principle of representation.
Honest representation goes beyond transparency regarding our credentials, to the source of our research
and stories. Knowing her ethical and legal obligations, this speaker was able to take the high road, even when her imitator was not.

PROFESSIONALISM
ARTICLE 2 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“Wait a minute! ‘Unprofessional’ is NOT the opposite of ‘professional’; it’s ‘amateur’.” —Jay Izso, Internet Doctor (The Opposite of Professional is Not Unprofessional.  https://linkedin.com/pulse/opposite-professional-unprofessional-jay-izso-internet-doctor.)

Professionalism is about taking the high road and going the extra mile.
NSA Founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE knew that the speaking profession would only grow if members
worked together in a spirit of community. To encourage professionalism and collegiality, November 14th
has been designated as the Spirit of NSA Day. On this day, speaker members are asked to actively encourage
peers, refer colleagues to clients, and serve as mentors to emerging speakers.
The heart of professionalism for the ethical speaker is revealed by how we deal with ourselves, clients,
vendors, and colleagues—how we act, conduct business, and speak to others. The ethical speaker does not
offend or discredit him or her self, others, clients, or our industry. Professionalism extends beyond
appearances to the quality of our work and relationships.
THE CASE OF THE HOSPITAL GOWN KEYNOTE
This story comes from my mentor, the late Dr. Joachim de Posada, Global CSP as told by his daughter,
Caroline de Posada-Rodriguez, Esq. It demonstrates excellence in business and character. As Bruce Turkel15
said in his beautiful tribute at Joachim’s Life Celebration, everyone felt they had “a special relationship” with
Joachim. He was the consummate speaker and mentor. (Turkel, Bruce. All About Them, Grow Your Business by
Focusing on Others. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016.)
“My dad battled cancer for many years while he underwent surgeries and treatments. In the last years of his life, he
started suffering complications. A few days before a keynote for a Connecticut high school graduation, he went to the
ER suffering from severe abdominal pain. He was hospitalized and required a feeding tube up his nose. This meant he
would be unable to deliver his keynote presentation to the high school graduates. He was so committed to his purpose in
life, that he just couldn’t fail those kids. He immediately contacted the high school principal to advise him of what was
happening. Despite reassurances from the principal that they would find an alternate speaker, my father was not willing
to break his commitment. He grabbed his iPad and instructed me to begin recording. As he sat on his hospital bed in
his hospital gown, my father began his commencement keynote. I was surprised because my father had chosen to keep his
illness private.”
I could not fathom that my father would expose himself to a client in this manner despite the consequences
for future engagements that could arise, but my father was a man of his word. He used his own example,
showing the new graduates how life will throw them obstacles and curve balls, and how they would have to
decide how to honor their commitments. It was the only time my father ever made his illness public. In that

instant, he sacrificed his privacy to keep his word. Joachim lived by his principles and in the toughest of
times, he walked his talk. As usual, he was a hit!”
THE CASE OF THE RUDE KEYNOTE SPEAKER
I once witnessed a terrific keynoter who, soon after his presentation, could be heard chitchatting loudly at
the back of the room—while another speaker was at the podium. If that wasn’t enough, he was overhead making
jokes and uncomplimentary comments about the appearance, slides, and Spanish accent of the speaker
who followed him. Though the event planner enjoyed the attention of this well-known keynoter, many of us
in the audience were unimpressed. When he was asked to talk more quietly, the speaker blamed the event
planner for talking to him, taking no responsibility for his unprofessional behavior.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Hospital Gown Keynote, Joachim de Posada, Global Speaking Fellow, demonstrates
the importance of having a professional policy for illness, injury, personal emergency, or travel disruptions.
Speakers must decide whether they will carry on or hide their illness. Ethics suggests that risking the health of
others through exposure to contagious illness is ill-advised.
Calling the client, arranging a back-up speaker, or offering virtual presentations are ethical and professional
solutions to the inevitable problems of incapacitation, travel delays, and double-booking. As Joachim would
say, “Never compromise one client for another.”
What do you include in your client discussion, scope of service documents, and contracts to address the issue
of your potential inability to speak as planned?
The Case of the Rude Keynote Speaker goes beyond a manners violation. This is unprofessional behavior.
In the movies, nothing is funnier than someone acting unprofessional or petty. We love seeing movie
characters use foul language and slurs, dress badly, talk loudly, make annoying sounds, tell offensive jokes,
make fun of others, act judgmental, and fail to take responsibility for their actions—but that cluelessness is
only funny in the movies.
Bullying, passive-aggressive behavior, and aggressive acts are unprofessional. Words, images, actions, and
non-verbal communication that constitutes harassment, sexual harassment, and disrespect of authority or
colleagues are additional examples that may also be illegal.
A professional speaker must be a professional listener who constantly monitors surrounding words and
actions, and their own impulsive responses.
How would you handle the rude keynote speaker during the talk and afterward? What would you say and
to whom?
RESEARCH
ARTICLE 3 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“All of your customers are partners in your mission.” —Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE16
(Hyken, Shep, CSP, CPAE. http://hyken.com)
Being prepared for a speaking engagement is an ethical requirement and a smart business practice. The ethical
professional speaker works hard to understand their client’s needs, industry-specific challenges and values,
approaches, goals, and culture while preparing for each presentation. Expertise requires ongoing study,
research, and observation. Our main point, conclusions, and recommendations must be based on sound
experience and fact.
THE CASE OF THE SUPER-PREPARED EXPERT
I once had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Paul J. DiGrigoli at a Beauty Industry Conference. He

exploded onto the stage with energizing music and lights, getting the crowd to their feet with simple cues.
Before his keynote, he schmoozed with the audience members, asking them about themselves. He listened as
they told him about their salons, schools, and products, and he asked questions about what was working and
what wasn’t for them. A successful owner of Paul J. DiGrigoli Salons, School of Cosmetology and Seminars,
and author of Booked Solid: The Ultimate Guide to Getting and Keeping Clients, Paul did not rest on his reputation
or use his “Standard Keynote.” He added value by understanding his audience and their needs, and by clearly
and relevantly demonstrating his main point that everyone can turn a negative into a positive.
Afterward, Paul again engaged with attendees, listened attentively, hugged, and posed for pictures with his
new fans, and signed his books for hours.
If this were not enough, at my closing keynote, Paul asked if I wanted to “borrow” his music. His interest as
a professional speaker was to help the conference be a success by helping all the speakers shine. He
understood that helping others was in his own best interests. What a professional!

THE CASE OF THE CLUELESS POLITICIAN
A high-profile politician lost her audience and many votes by coming to give a speech unprepared.
Repeatedly, she spoke to an audience of public school educators and parents about the challenges and high
costs of private schooling. What she had to say was well throughout but offered to the wrong audience. Public
school administrators and parents are not concerned about the costs of private education; they face some
very different challenges. A little bit of research into her audience’s needs and interests would have helped her
look like an effective professional speaker and caring public servant.
Brand Guru Bruce Turkel17 says it all with his book title, “All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on
Others.” This speaker forgot that. (Turkel, Bruce. All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on
Others. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016.)
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Super-Prepared Expert and The
Case of the Clueless Politician, the importance of understanding your client’s needs, challenges, and
audiences is noted. Research gives speakers the edge ethically and professionally in providing excellent and
meaningful service. No canned speech can meet your client’s needs without understanding every audience,
every time.
In addition, knowing the venue’s quirks and technical specifications is crucial to providing a polished,
effective program. How many times have you heard a speaker at the podium saying, “Can you hear me?” as
their first words … followed by that ear-piercing squawk that comes from standing too close to the sound
system. A little bit of preparation goes a long way.
What do you do before, during, and after you speak to learn your client’s culture and needs, and establish
your professionalism?
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
ARTICLE 4 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“The best copyright is to be widely quoted.” —Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP
(from CSP Only page on Facebook)
Speak your authentic truth. This means asking permission to use others’ original works and giving credit for
any content that is not yours. Getting written permission to use materials, stories, and media in our
communications honors the spirit and laws of intellectual property.

This is often not so easy with a cornucopia of “free” material available at a click. Not only does “delicious
temptation” abound, it can be difficult to know whether a “free” typeface, image, music track, or video was
stolen by the person who made it “free” for you to download and use.
Pirates and poachers are sexy in the movies, but not in the speaking industry. Professional speakers are
charged with the task of discerning the origin of these treasures so that they may be properly credited.
Many experienced speakers caution that, “First you hear a story; then you quote it; then you tell it as if it
was your own.” Familiarity can challenge our sense of ownership. Due diligence is best served when we tell
only stories of things we directly experienced or witnessed.
THE CASE OF THE STORY THIEF
Sarah Best, former Education Specialist from the NSA team, pointed me to this story: On the CSPs Only
Facebook page, the question was asked: Where do you draw the line between referencing another person’s work
or idea, and stealing material?
A practical and collegial point of view on story theft comes from Alan Parisse, MBA, CSP, CPAE.19 “The
worst story thieves take other speakers’ personal stories and tell them as their own. The best story thieves
repeat an idea, share the source of their inspiration, make that idea their own, and then expand on it, taking it
to a whole new level. That benefits everyone.” (From CSP Only page on Facebook.)

I once sat in the audience listening to a speaker as I awaited my turn to give the closing keynote. The speaker
spoke of her experience escaping Cuba with her family and of the importance of a positive attitude and grace
in the face of adversity. She spoke of her mother wearing red shoes in quiet defiance of Castro. Afterward, I
went up to her in the spirit of kinship as this was my own experience and my signature story—The Red Shoe
Story. She said, “Oh, it’s not my story. I heard it from the Red Shoe Doctor.” I was flabbergasted and looked
down at my red shoes. She smiled and said, “Oh, it’s you! I tell your story all the time.” We agreed she could
continue to tell the story, but only if she credited it to me.
THE CASE STUDY OF THE “UN-STOLEN” STORY
Caroline de Posada, Esq., daughter of famed global speaker and my mentor, Joachim de Posada, Global
CSP, attended a presentation where the keynoter told a story that was identical to a story that appeared in her
father’s best-selling book. Her first instinct was to confront the keynoter. Thoughts of raising her hand during
the Q & A and calling him out naturally occurred to her.
Wisely, she took a few minutes to conduct some online research with her phone, which revealed that this
was an old story of unknown origin. Though her father had incorporated this story into his own book, it was
not original material, and the speaker had as much right to use it as her father.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Story Thief, a direct and professional discussion with the story thief resulted in free
publicity. This turned out to be a collegial solution to an intellectual property dilemma.
In The Case of the Un-Stolen Story, speakers grapple with what is original and what is not. Doing your due
diligence is an ethical requirement. What would you do if your signature story or business material was stolen?
Don’t assume that everything “freely” available online is actually free. The following tips by Dave Bricker20
offer guidance with making sound decisions regarding intellectual property rights. (Bricker, Dave,
http://davebricker.com)
Video

Embedding video can be dangerous as people routinely and illegally post other people’s copyrighted material
on YouTube. Do your homework on rights owners.
Cartoons and Comics
Cartoons and comics cannot be used in your presentations without permission from their rights holders.
Post a picture of Spiderman or Mickey Mouse without permission and you might find yourself in an
expensive legal battle with Disney.
Google Images
Most of the images that show up on a Google image search are owned by someone.
Google offers search options for images that are “Labeled for Reuse” and “Labeled for Reuse with
Modification.” Take advantage of these advanced search features.
Obtaining permission
I once produced a soundtrack for a mattress company video that incorporated a lecture on dreams by an MIT
professor. I sampled small bits of the lecture, sent the professor a copy of the track, and received an
enthusiastic endorsement in return.
Fair Use
The doctrine of “fair use” in copyright law allows you to sample small bits of media—text, music, images,
video, etcetera—for your own purposes. Quoting others’ work in this way is legal, but err on the side of
caution. Representing other people’s work as your own, even by the teaspoon, is risky business. What’s “fair”
in “fair use” is not clearly defined, and it’s best not to have that determination made in a courtroom.
Public Domain
Millions of public domain books, images, films, and other media are available for unrestricted use. Any
media with an expired copyright is fair game, making the “vintage look” a safe and charming approach to
visual banding.
Royalty-Free Music
If you’re a Mac user, consider using Apple’s Garage Band® software to create your own royalty-free music
tracks. The software is easy to learn and fun to use, even if you know nothing about playing or composing
music.
RESPECT & COLLEGIALITY
ARTICLE 5 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“Follow the platinum rule. Treat everyone the way you want them to treat you. There is no place for hate, regret or sorrow.
The business and reputation will come back to you.” —Dr. Gayle N. Carson, CSP
(http://spunkyoldbroad.com)
Be respectful. Be courteous. Any good grandmother would insist on these golden standards to create and
maintain collegial relationships with fellow speakers and clients. Professional courtesy builds excellence in
our own reputations, our colleagues, and our industry.
Customer Service speaker and expert, Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE gives sound advice, “Be nice. People like to
be treated with respect and dignity.” This principle goes hand in hand with professionalism by highlighting
the importance of relationships. (http://hyken.com)
THE CASE OF THE FALSELY ACCUSED COMEDIAN
The following intellectual property story makes a strong case for Respect and Collegiality:
Comedian Amy Schumer was “accused of stealing a fellow comedian’s jokes,” which resulted in her being

vilified on social media. Once the facts were examined, it turned out that the accusations were groundless.
The accusing comedian apologized, but the damage was already done. Both comedians’ reputations took a
hit. Whether or not someone steals from us, ethical speakers handle themselves professionally.
THE CASE OF THE TIME-THIEVING SPEAKER
We have all been at a conference where a time-thieving speaker captivates the audience while eating into the
next speaker’s time. This demonstrates a lack of respect for the next speaker, the audience, and the client.
Stealing time seems innocent enough, but if you’re the next speaker you have an ethical dilemma: You were
paid for and planned for a 50-minute presentation.
Recently this happened to me. I ended up with fifteen minutes of my planned forty-five. After a quick
consultation with the event planner, we agreed I would speak for twenty minutes and offer a forty-five-
minute webinar the following week as a courtesy. The client was grateful to deal with a gracious professional,
and the company is now negotiating to purchase some of my training programs. As my mother always said,
“It pays to be nice!”
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Falsely Accused Comedian, the story demonstrates the importance of respect and
collegiality even in the face of a potential theft of intellectual property. Stories are based on common
experiences and derived from a limited number of available ideas. Some titles or jokes will inevitably appear
to be “borrowed.” It is important to give colleagues the benefit of the doubt, and
inquire about your concerns in a neutral, collegial way.
Two speakers were once accused of stealing each other’s story. It turned out they were both directly involved
in that story and had every right to share their own experiences. This happens with like-minded people.
In The Case of the Time-thieving Speaker, part of Respect and Collegiality is honoring the client’s
timeline and sharing the stage professionally with other speakers. Hogging the show is amateurish. Practicing
your timing and sticking to the time allotted go hand in hand with being an effective professional speaker.
 What would you do if you were the next speaker?
 Would you continue with your planned program as is?
 Would you cut your presentation to keep to the schedule?
 Would you shorten your program and offer to provide a webinar later to deliver the full program?
 Do you put this in your contract or make verbal agreements with your clients about scheduling and time
available before your presentation?
CONFIDENTIALITY
ARTICLE 6 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“‘We have a simple philosophy when it comes to confidentiality—‘nothing; no-one; never.’ We don’t assume information given to
us is confidential; we mandate that it is until otherwise notified. That way we’ll never find ourselves in an embarrassing position.’
—Troy Hazard, CSP
(http://troyhazard.com)
Respect the confidentiality of business and personal affairs of clients, agents, and speaker colleagues.
Unprofessional sharing and gossip undermine any professional reputation and relationship.
As a speaker, you will witness corporate announcements, speeches, and secrets that outsiders are not
normally privy to. Companies must trust their employees to keep these matters confidential, and they must be
able to place this same trust in you.

You might even be approached by competitors who offer lucrative speaking fees in exchange for disclosure
of what you saw and heard. These companies must be told that though you’d love to speak at their meetings,
you’ll respect their confidential material the same way you respect all your clients’—even if that means you
don’t get the bookings.
THE CASE OF THE NOISY SILENCE
One of easiest ways to violate confidentiality is through social media. A speaker’s enthusiastic team posted
before, during, and after events. The problem arose when he let his guard down in the face of his eagerness
to share his activities and brag about his client’s amazing organization. Unintentionally, he breached the
company policy of not reporting successes so as to protect their competitive advantage.
Fortunately, when approached with this breach of confidentiality, the speaker took full responsibility and did
not blame his team. He consulted with his client and they created an online solution to repair the damage
and restore the speaker’s credibility with the company, and the company’s credibility with the public and
their stakeholders.
THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY TRIBE
Another speaker was especially gifted at building her tribe. The tribe tweeted away during her presentation.
During a break, it became clear that the organization’s employee audience was breaching confidentiality.
Though the speaker is not responsible for the actions of her audience, speakers are thought leaders who can
suggest proper and ethical behavior.
When you see audience members posting on public social media during your presentation, you can defend
your client’s mission by offering a reminder of the confidential nature of the material.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Noisy Silence and The Case of the
Runaway Tribe, it is clear that today’s ever-growing technology and lightning fast modes of communication
facilitate atmospheres where passion can rule out discretion.
Military audiences and innovative companies in competitive businesses require specific understandings about
confidentially and safety with regard to speech, email, voicemail, print, video, and social media
communication. My father-in-law, the late, Ira A. Glass, Commander USN (ret), a former submarine
commander, was fond of the old wartime saying “Loose lips sink ships.” On the water or on dry land, this
saying offers a mantra for ethical speakers. It is our obligation to learn industry-specific,
client-specific, and audience-specific guidelines for protecting confidential information to build and maintain
trusting relationships with our clients.
For speakers, marketing can pose a problem. Some clients will not grant permission to use their name or logo
in any context, whether in the media, on your website, or in an application. Asking the client is imperative to
maintaining trust.
What questions do you ask your clients in order to understand their confidentiality requirements?
How do you set an ethical tone for your clients’ and audiences’ behavior?
BUSINESS PRACTICES
ARTICLE 7 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“Do what you say you are going to do.” —Dr. Joachim de Posada, Global CSP
Be honorable in business. Reach beyond your own conduct to prevent fraud or unfair practice in the speaking
profession, and actively work to eliminate all practices that could discredit the speaking profession.
THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE HONORARIUM

Two unethical practices relate to applicants for the CSP designation. To raise the total fees collected in a year,
some speakers accept a booking for an honorarium with the understanding that the speaker will return this fee.
Just as unethical is asking a colleague to “hire” you for a presentation given to a few friends, and then
misrepresent the context and the fees to help you qualify for the CSP designation. Receiving and returning a
check just to pad one’s speaking “income” is fraudulent and unethical.
Even talented and experienced speakers are not considered to be professional speakers unless they earn
speaking fees. The Certified Speaking Professional designation is earned by speakers who have worked hard
to master all Four Es: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise, and Ethics. Let’s keep the NSA speaker and CSP
brands strong by helping each other shine ethically.
THE CASE OF THE PRICE-FIXERS
Two speakers were contacted by a client. Knowing that whomever was not hired this year would probably be
booked next year, the two agreed that neither would lower their speaking fees to compete with the other. By
fixing their price, both speakers eventually got their full fee. This is a form of collusion, an unethical practice.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Invisible Honorarium, anxiety about earning the CSP designation or gaining more
business overrides concerns for propriety and sound business practices. Misrepresenting your earnings or
trying to pad a resume for the sake of earning a CSP designation is outright fraud against the NSA. It
cheapens the CSP and NSA brands and diminishes your own reputation.
What would you say to these misguided speaker applicants? It is best to be kind, tactful, and directly
informative. There is no need to sugar coat the unethical or illegal nature of a transgression if one is
respectful in the discussion. It is the culture of NSA that speakers help each other achieve excellence. A
powerful way to do this is to use mistakes, missteps, and misunderstandings as opportunities to teach and
learn.
In The Case of the Price-Fixers, price-fixing is illegal and unethical collusion. Price-fixing or the
appearance of it is also a legal issue related to anti-trust laws. This is why speakers do not discuss fees in open
forums. Questions regarding fees are best addressed to valued mentors and paid speaker consultants. Within
a coaching context, fee discussions are healthy and honorable.
DIVERSITY
ARTICLE 8 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I believe that the unchallenged brain is not worth trusting. While
being inclusive might sound easy, in reality, our conscious and unconscious biases can often get in our way.
—Dr. Helen Turnbull, CSP
Be inclusive—the more the merrier. Reject any agreement or activity that limits or denies access to the
marketplace to anyone. Don’t engage in discriminatory practices based on economic factors, race, ethnicity,
color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or country of national origin.
THE CASE OF THE SECRET LATINA
When I first started speaking in the 1980s, a faith-based community approached me to create two series of
presentations—one on parenting and one on leadership. When it came time to sign the enticing yearlong
contract, it was whispered to me that they were looking for trainers for their staff on the topic of diversity.
The whisper confused me. Then, I got it; they wanted my help finding a speaker who was not Hispanic.
Thinking they were teasing, I laughed. They stared at me with confusion on their faces. I explained that I
thought they knew I was a Cuban-born American and they were being playful with me. They weren’t. I bid

them a respectful “adios” and lost that contract. Years later, they contacted me, asking for help fostering
diversity in their quest to create an ethical, inclusive workplace. Standing by our principles helps everyone in
the long run.
THE CASE OF THE DROPPED THE MICROPHONE
Dr. Helen Turnbull, CSP, a renowned expert on unconscious bias and diversity, generously offered this
anecdote. This is an example of a simple mistake that is a sign of a diversity challenge and opportunity.
“I remember as if it were yesterday. I was speaking at a conference. My male client and I were working with a male
technician to set up the audio equipment. I was introduced to the technician as Dr. Turnbull and we worked amiably
together for about 20 minutes. My client then said to the technician, “By the way, Dr. Turnbull also needs a
microphone,” to which the technician replied, “I will get him one when he arrives.” I am not sure whose jaw dropped
faster, mine or my client’s. Mental models, mind viruses, and unconscious biases are everywhere. The bad news is
that they do not go away. The good news is that when you become aware of them, you can make mindful choices and
limit their power over you.”
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Secret Latina and The Case of the Dropped Microphone, ethics and common
decency require a discussion of diversity. We all have biases and prejudices. As Dr. Turnbull notes, with
awareness, we can “make mindful choices and limit their power” over ourselves and others.
In what ways do you take a stand on the value of diversity? Consider a time when you have benefited from
positive biases and been plagued by negative, more limiting prejudices? What is your obligation to educate
clients, vendors, and colleagues about diversity?
SPEAKER RESOURCES
Global Speakers Federation. http://globalspeakersfederation.
net, The GSF includes 13 member associations:
1. AFCP, Association Française des EXPERTS & Conférenciers Professionnels.
http://association-conferenciers.com.
2. APSS, Asia Professional Speakers – Singapore.
http://asiaspeakers.org.
3. CAP, Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.
http://canadianspeakers.org.
4. GSA, German Speakers Association.
https://germanspeakers.org.
5. IP BRAZIL, Instituto Palestrante - Índice Palestrantes do Brasil.
http://institutopalestrante.org.br/indexbase.html.
6. MAPS, Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers.
http://maps.org.my.
7. NSANZ, National Speakers Association of New Zealand.
http://nsanz.org.nz.
8. NSAUS, National Speakers Association.
http://nsaspeaker.org.
9. PSA, Professional Speakers Australia.

Code of Ethics


10. PSAB, Professional Speakers Association Belgium.
http://psa-belgium.be.
11. PSAH, Professional Speakers Association Holland.
http://psaholland.org.
12. PSASA, Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.
http://psasouthernafrica.co.za.

13. PSAUKI, Professional Speaking Association UK & Ireland.
http://thepsa.co.uk.
Hazard, Troy, CSP. Future-Proofing Your Business. Wiley; 1 edition, 2010.
International Association of Professional Motivational Speakers (IAPO).
https://iapcollege.com/program/membershipmotivational-speakers
International Association of Corporate Speakers. http://corporatespeaker.org
International Speakers Association. http://speakersassociation.org/InternationalSpeakersAssociations.
htm
Professional Keynote Motivational Speaker Ethics. http://difrances.com/ethics.htm
Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA). http://psasouthernafrica.co.za
Robert, Cavett, CSP, CPAE. Paid to Speak, Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business
Greenleaf Book Group Press; unknown edition, 2011
Seidman, Dov and Clinton, Bill. How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything. Wiley; Edition: 1, 2011
Shapiro, Norman and Anderson, Robert H. Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail. Rand Corp, 1985
Toastmasters International Accredited Speakers. http://accreditedspeakers.com/ASCodeofEthics.html
Women Speakers Association (WSA). http://womenspeakersassociation.com

SUCCESSFUL

Great communicators exert a great deal of influence over the lives of individuals, team members,
organizations, and communities locally and globally. With such impact, it is critical that we get it right.
Good leaders do well to follow the example of the National Speakers Association Founder. Cavett Robert,
CSP, CPAE created a culture of excellence for global speakers. “The Spirit of Cavett” is a call to action for
speakers to help one another in the quest for high standards. The NSA Code of Ethics guides us along the
path to mastery of the four Es of Speaker Competence: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise, and Ethics so that
we can make a lasting, positive impact.
One of my favorite leaders is motivational speaker, humorist, and leadership expert Tim Durkin, CSP. He
reminds us that the “NSA Code of Professional Ethics is a continuing condition of membership; it is not just
one of the four competencies that can be taken in degrees.” (TimDurkin.com) The NSA Codes of Ethics are
reproduced below for easy reference. (National Speakers Association. From the NSASpeaker.org website,
June 2016, http://nsaspeaker.org)
NSA CODE OF ETHICS
The purpose of this Code of Professional Ethics is to establish and maintain our brand, reputation, and
public confidence in the professionalism, dedication, and integrity of individual members of NSA, and the
Association itself.
The characteristics of honesty, leadership, and stewardship are integral to the success of NSA and the
individual professional speaker.
Therefore, all members of NSA subscribe to this Code of Professional Ethics as a condition of membership,
with the firm belief that each member will strive to uphold the values, reputation, and legacy of NSA. By
doing so, members recognize the necessity to preserve and encourage fair and equitable practices among all
who are engaged in professional speaking.
Violations of this Code are determined in accordance with the bylaws, policies, and procedures of NSA. Any
disciplinary action instituted by NSA shall be binding and final upon the NSA member and without recourse
to the Association, its officers, members of staff.”
ARTICLE 1 – REPRESENTATION
The NSA member has an obligation to oneself and to NSA to represent oneself truthfully, professionally and
in a non-misleading manner. The NSA member shall be honest and accurate in presenting qualifications and
experience in the member’s communication with others.
ARTICLE 2 – PROFESSIONALISM
The NSA member shall act, operate his/her business, and speak in a most professional and ethical manner so
as neither to offend nor bring discredit to oneself, the speaking professional, or one’s fellow NSA members.
ARTICLE 3 – RESEARCH
The NSA member shall exert efforts to understand each client’s organization, approaches, goals, and culture
in advance of a presentation in order to professionally apply one’s expertise to meet each client’s needs.
ARTICLE 4 – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The NSA member shall avoid using—either orally or in writing—materials, titles, or thematic creations
originated by others unless approved in writing by the originator.
ARTICLE 5 – RESPECT AND COLLEGIALITY
The NSA member shall maintain a collegial relationship with fellow members that is based on respect,
professional courtesy, dignity, and the highest ethical standards.
ARTICLE 6 – CONFIDENTIALITY
The NSA member shall maintain and respect the confidentiality of business or personal affairs of clients,
agents, and other speakers.
ARTICLE 7 – BUSINESS PRACTICES
The NSA member is obligated to maintain a high level of ethical standards and practices in order to assist in
protecting the public against fraud or any unfair practice in the speaking profession, and shall attempt to
eliminate from the profession all practices that could bring discredit to the speaking profession.
ARTICLE 8 – DIVERSITY
The NSA member shall not participate in any agreement or activity that would limit or deny access to the
marketplace to any other speaker, to a client, or to the public. This includes, but is not limited to, economic
factors, race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or country of national
origin of any party.

CASE STUDIES – this is for a blog post and does not have to count for the leadership

communication SEO word count. 5456 words

Case studies illustrate the eight principles of the National Speakers’ Association Code of Ethics. This is an
excerpt a book I wrote for professional speakers, The Ethical Speaker.
REPRESENTATION
ARTICLE 1 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“Be impeccable with your word.” —don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements11
Ruiz, don Miguel. The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing; Box edition, 2008
The ethical speaker is honest and transparent, and does not mislead or allow misrepresentations to stand
uncorrected. Honest representation is all about being genuinely comfortable in our own skins, with our
choices, accomplishments, limits, and missteps. It’s about being honest and accurate in presenting our
qualifications, experience, and expertise in all methods of communication.
THE CASE OF THE MARLBORO MAN
A Phillip Morris and Company Marlboro ad campaign created by Leo Burnett Worldwide offers a tragic
example of misrepresentation. With scientific research noting harmful effects of smoking, filtered cigarettes
were pitched as a “safer alternative” to unfiltered cigarettes.
Unfortunately, filtered cigarettes were not safe. With pseudo-science, complicated terminology, and the
emergence of the Marlboro Man, ads helped calm fears of smoking by encouraging the public to buy into
filters as a means of risk-reduction. Rugged cowboys, at one with nature, swept past public perceptions of
filters as feminine. According to The Los Angeles Times, several Marlboro Men died young of smoking-related
diseases. (Pierce, Matt. “At Least Four Marlboro Men Have Died of Smoking-Related
Diseases.” Los Angeles Times. http://latimes.com/nationnow/la-na-nn-malboro-men-20140127-story.html)

RIGHTING A WRONG
One of the Marlboro Men, David Mclean, who died of lung cancer, became an anti-smoking activist,
testifying on behalf of anti-smoking legislation. Another, Eric Lawson, who died of Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD) appeared in anti-smoking commercials and publicly discussed the harmful
effects of smoking. Wayne McLaren, who died of lung cancer, participated in anti-smoking campaigns until
his death at the age of 51.
His last words are reported to have been, “Take care of the children. Tobacco will kill you, and I am living
proof of it.”
THE CASE OF THE SOUND SLEEPER
This gem is from motivational leadership and business speaker Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, Commander USN
(ret.),13 who says, “Doing the right thing makes it easier to sleep at night.” (Kelly, Mary, PhD, CSP, CDR,
USN (ret), productiveleaders.com)
“In 2009, I heard a speaker use a point in one of his talks that I had used since 1983 in the Navy. He also put
it in one of his books. What did I do? Whenever I mention that point, I also say, ‘Speaker/author Blah Blah
includes this in his book, XYZ.’ He was the first person who published it, so I give him credit. That is also
how it works in academia. You may not be the first person with an idea, but if you are the first to publish it,
you get credit. Taking the high road isn’t always the easiest road, but it is the right thing to do.”
COMMENTARY

In The Case of the Marlboro Man, the actors and real cowboys were asked to misrepresent the facts
regarding the safety of a product. Resisting potential rewards that come with misrepresenting our
qualifications, our values, life experience, military experience, or the facts are all ethical challenges that come
with some lucrative speaking opportunities. In this case, the Marlboro Men demonstrated that it’s never too
late to do the right thing. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do next that counts. What would you do if asked
to speak up for something you knew was harmful or not right?
In The Case of the Sound Sleeper, Mary demonstrates a key point of the principle of representation.
Honest representation goes beyond transparency regarding our credentials, to the source of our research
and stories. Knowing her ethical and legal obligations, this speaker was able to take the high road, even when
her imitator was not.
PROFESSIONALISM
ARTICLE 2 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“Wait a minute! ‘Unprofessional’ is NOT the opposite of ‘professional’; it’s ‘amateur’.” —Jay Izso, Internet Doctor14
(The Opposite of Professional is Not Unprofessional.
https://linkedin.com/pulse/opposite-professional-unprofessional-jay-izso-internet-doctor.)

Professionalism is about taking the high road and going the extra mile.
NSA Founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE knew that the speaking profession would only grow if members
worked together in a spirit of community. To encourage professionalism and collegiality, November 14th
has been designated as the Spirit of NSA Day. On this day, speaker members are asked to actively encourage
peers, refer colleagues to clients, and serve as mentors to emerging speakers.
The heart of professionalism for the ethical speaker is revealed by how we deal with ourselves, clients,
vendors, and colleagues—how we act, conduct business, and speak to others. The ethical speaker does not
offend or discredit him or her self, others, clients, or our industry. Professionalism extends beyond
appearances to the quality of our work and relationships.
THE CASE OF THE HOSPITAL GOWN KEYNOTE
This story comes from my mentor, the late Dr. Joachim de Posada, Global CSP as told by his daughter,
Caroline de Posada-Rodriguez, Esq. It demonstrates excellence in business and character. As Bruce Turkel15
said in his beautiful tribute at Joachim’s Life Celebration, everyone felt they had “a special relationship” with
Joachim. He was the consummate speaker and mentor. (Turkel, Bruce. All About Them, Grow Your Business by
Focusing on Others. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016.)
“My dad battled cancer for many years while he underwent surgeries and treatments. In the last years of his life, he
started suffering complications. A few days before a keynote for a Connecticut high school graduation, he went to the
ER suffering from severe abdominal pain. He was hospitalized and required a feeding tube up his nose. This meant he
would be unable to deliver his keynote presentation to the high school graduates. He was so committed to his purpose in
life, that he just couldn’t fail those kids. He immediately contacted the high school principal to advise him of what was
happening. Despite reassurances from the principal that they would find an alternate speaker, my father was not willing
to break his commitment. He grabbed his iPad and instructed me to begin recording. As he sat on his hospital bed in
his hospital gown, my father began his commencement keynote. I was surprised because my father had chosen to keep his
illness private.”
I could not fathom that my father would expose himself to a client in this manner despite the consequences
for future engagements that could arise, but my father was a man of his word. He used his own example,
showing the new graduates how life will throw them obstacles and curve balls, and how they would have to
decide how to honor their commitments. It was the only time my father ever made his illness public. In that

instant, he sacrificed his privacy to keep his word. Joachim lived by his principles and in the toughest of
times, he walked his talk. As usual, he was a hit!”
THE CASE OF THE RUDE KEYNOTE SPEAKER
I once witnessed a terrific keynoter who, soon after his presentation, could be heard chitchatting loudly at
the back of the room—while another speaker was at the podium. If that wasn’t enough, he was overhead making
jokes and uncomplimentary comments about the appearance, slides, and Spanish accent of the speaker
who followed him. Though the event planner enjoyed the attention of this well-known keynoter, many of us
in the audience were unimpressed. When he was asked to talk more quietly, the speaker blamed the event
planner for talking to him, taking no responsibility for his unprofessional behavior.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Hospital Gown Keynote, Joachim de Posada, Global Speaking Fellow, demonstrates
the importance of having a professional policy for illness, injury, personal emergency, or travel disruptions.
Speakers must decide whether they will carry on or hide their illness. Ethics suggests that risking the health of
others through exposure to contagious illness is ill-advised.
Calling the client, arranging a back-up speaker, or offering virtual presentations are ethical and professional
solutions to the inevitable problems of incapacitation, travel delays, and double-booking. As Joachim would
say, “Never compromise one client for another.”
What do you include in your client discussion, scope of service documents, and contracts to address the issue
of your potential inability to speak as planned?
The Case of the Rude Keynote Speaker goes beyond a manners violation. This is unprofessional behavior.
In the movies, nothing is funnier than someone acting unprofessional or petty. We love seeing movie
characters use foul language and slurs, dress badly, talk loudly, make annoying sounds, tell offensive jokes,
make fun of others, act judgmental, and fail to take responsibility for their actions—but that cluelessness is
only funny in the movies.
Bullying, passive-aggressive behavior, and aggressive acts are unprofessional. Words, images, actions, and
non-verbal communication that constitutes harassment, sexual harassment, and disrespect of authority or
colleagues are additional examples that may also be illegal.
A professional speaker must be a professional listener who constantly monitors surrounding words and
actions, and their own impulsive responses.
How would you handle the rude keynote speaker during the talk and afterward? What would you say and
to whom?
RESEARCH
ARTICLE 3 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“All of your customers are partners in your mission.” —Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE16
(Hyken, Shep, CSP, CPAE. http://hyken.com)
Being prepared for a speaking engagement is an ethical requirement and a smart business practice. The ethical
professional speaker works hard to understand their client’s needs, industry-specific challenges and values,
approaches, goals, and culture while preparing for each presentation. Expertise requires ongoing study,
research, and observation. Our main point, conclusions, and recommendations must be based on sound
experience and fact.
THE CASE OF THE SUPER-PREPARED EXPERT
I once had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Paul J. DiGrigoli at a Beauty Industry Conference. He

exploded onto the stage with energizing music and lights, getting the crowd to their feet with simple cues.
Before his keynote, he schmoozed with the audience members, asking them about themselves. He listened as
they told him about their salons, schools, and products, and he asked questions about what was working and
what wasn’t for them. A successful owner of Paul J. DiGrigoli Salons, School of Cosmetology and Seminars,
and author of Booked Solid: The Ultimate Guide to Getting and Keeping Clients, Paul did not rest on his reputation
or use his “Standard Keynote.” He added value by understanding his audience and their needs, and by clearly
and relevantly demonstrating his main point that everyone can turn a negative into a positive.
Afterward, Paul again engaged with attendees, listened attentively, hugged, and posed for pictures with his
new fans, and signed his books for hours.
If this were not enough, at my closing keynote, Paul asked if I wanted to “borrow” his music. His interest as
a professional speaker was to help the conference be a success by helping all the speakers shine. He
understood that helping others was in his own best interests. What a professional!

THE CASE OF THE CLUELESS POLITICIAN
A high-profile politician lost her audience and many votes by coming to give a speech unprepared.
Repeatedly, she spoke to an audience of public school educators and parents about the challenges and high
costs of private schooling. What she had to say was well throughout but offered to the wrong audience. Public
school administrators and parents are not concerned about the costs of private education; they face some
very different challenges. A little bit of research into her audience’s needs and interests would have helped her
look like an effective professional speaker and caring public servant.
Brand Guru Bruce Turkel17 says it all with his book title, “All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on
Others.” This speaker forgot that. (Turkel, Bruce. All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on
Others. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016.)
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Super-Prepared Expert and The
Case of the Clueless Politician, the importance of understanding your client’s needs, challenges, and
audiences is noted. Research gives speakers the edge ethically and professionally in providing excellent and
meaningful service. No canned speech can meet your client’s needs without understanding every audience,
every time.
In addition, knowing the venue’s quirks and technical specifications is crucial to providing a polished,
effective program. How many times have you heard a speaker at the podium saying, “Can you hear me?” as
their first words … followed by that ear-piercing squawk that comes from standing too close to the sound
system. A little bit of preparation goes a long way.
What do you do before, during, and after you speak to learn your client’s culture and needs, and establish
your professionalism?
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
ARTICLE 4 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“The best copyright is to be widely quoted.” —Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP
(from CSP Only page on Facebook)
Speak your authentic truth. This means asking permission to use others’ original works and giving credit for
any content that is not yours. Getting written permission to use materials, stories, and media in our
communications honors the spirit and laws of intellectual property.

This is often not so easy with a cornucopia of “free” material available at a click. Not only does “delicious
temptation” abound, it can be difficult to know whether a “free” typeface, image, music track, or video was
stolen by the person who made it “free” for you to download and use.
Pirates and poachers are sexy in the movies, but not in the speaking industry. Professional speakers are
charged with the task of discerning the origin of these treasures so that they may be properly credited.
Many experienced speakers caution that, “First you hear a story; then you quote it; then you tell it as if it
was your own.” Familiarity can challenge our sense of ownership. Due diligence is best served when we tell
only stories of things we directly experienced or witnessed.
THE CASE OF THE STORY THIEF
Sarah Best, former Education Specialist from the NSA team, pointed me to this story: On the CSPs Only
Facebook page, the question was asked: Where do you draw the line between referencing another person’s work
or idea, and stealing material?
A practical and collegial point of view on story theft comes from Alan Parisse, MBA, CSP, CPAE.19 “The
worst story thieves take other speakers’ personal stories and tell them as their own. The best story thieves
repeat an idea, share the source of their inspiration, make that idea their own, and then expand on it, taking it
to a whole new level. That benefits everyone.” (From CSP Only page on Facebook.)

I once sat in the audience listening to a speaker as I awaited my turn to give the closing keynote. The speaker
spoke of her experience escaping Cuba with her family and of the importance of a positive attitude and grace
in the face of adversity. She spoke of her mother wearing red shoes in quiet defiance of Castro. Afterward, I
went up to her in the spirit of kinship as this was my own experience and my signature story—The Red Shoe
Story. She said, “Oh, it’s not my story. I heard it from the Red Shoe Doctor.” I was flabbergasted and looked
down at my red shoes. She smiled and said, “Oh, it’s you! I tell your story all the time.” We agreed she could
continue to tell the story, but only if she credited it to me.
THE CASE STUDY OF THE “UN-STOLEN” STORY
Caroline de Posada, Esq., daughter of famed global speaker and my mentor, Joachim de Posada, Global
CSP, attended a presentation where the keynoter told a story that was identical to a story that appeared in her
father’s best-selling book. Her first instinct was to confront the keynoter. Thoughts of raising her hand during
the Q & A and calling him out naturally occurred to her.
Wisely, she took a few minutes to conduct some online research with her phone, which revealed that this
was an old story of unknown origin. Though her father had incorporated this story into his own book, it was
not original material, and the speaker had as much right to use it as her father.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Story Thief, a direct and professional discussion with the story thief resulted in free
publicity. This turned out to be a collegial solution to an intellectual property dilemma.
In The Case of the Un-Stolen Story, speakers grapple with what is original and what is not. Doing your due
diligence is an ethical requirement. What would you do if your signature story or business material was stolen?
Don’t assume that everything “freely” available online is actually free. The following tips by Dave Bricker20
offer guidance with making sound decisions regarding intellectual property rights. (Bricker, Dave,
http://davebricker.com)
Video

Embedding video can be dangerous as people routinely and illegally post other people’s copyrighted material
on YouTube. Do your homework on rights owners.
Cartoons and Comics
Cartoons and comics cannot be used in your presentations without permission from their rights holders.
Post a picture of Spiderman or Mickey Mouse without permission and you might find yourself in an
expensive legal battle with Disney.
Google Images
Most of the images that show up on a Google image search are owned by someone.
Google offers search options for images that are “Labeled for Reuse” and “Labeled for Reuse with
Modification.” Take advantage of these advanced search features.
Obtaining permission
I once produced a soundtrack for a mattress company video that incorporated a lecture on dreams by an MIT
professor. I sampled small bits of the lecture, sent the professor a copy of the track, and received an
enthusiastic endorsement in return.
Fair Use
The doctrine of “fair use” in copyright law allows you to sample small bits of media—text, music, images,
video, etcetera—for your own purposes. Quoting others’ work in this way is legal, but err on the side of
caution. Representing other people’s work as your own, even by the teaspoon, is risky business. What’s “fair”
in “fair use” is not clearly defined, and it’s best not to have that determination made in a courtroom.
Public Domain
Millions of public domain books, images, films, and other media are available for unrestricted use. Any
media with an expired copyright is fair game, making the “vintage look” a safe and charming approach to
visual banding.
Royalty-Free Music
If you’re a Mac user, consider using Apple’s Garage Band® software to create your own royalty-free music
tracks. The software is easy to learn and fun to use, even if you know nothing about playing or composing
music.
RESPECT & COLLEGIALITY
ARTICLE 5 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“Follow the platinum rule. Treat everyone the way you want them to treat you. There is no place for hate, regret or sorrow.
The business and reputation will come back to you.” —Dr. Gayle N. Carson, CSP
(http://spunkyoldbroad.com)
Be respectful. Be courteous. Any good grandmother would insist on these golden standards to create and
maintain collegial relationships with fellow speakers and clients. Professional courtesy builds excellence in
our own reputations, our colleagues, and our industry.
Customer Service speaker and expert, Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE gives sound advice, “Be nice. People like to
be treated with respect and dignity.” This principle goes hand in hand with professionalism by highlighting
the importance of relationships. (http://hyken.com)
THE CASE OF THE FALSELY ACCUSED COMEDIAN
The following intellectual property story makes a strong case for Respect and Collegiality:
Comedian Amy Schumer was “accused of stealing a fellow comedian’s jokes,” which resulted in her being

vilified on social media. Once the facts were examined, it turned out that the accusations were groundless.
The accusing comedian apologized, but the damage was already done. Both comedians’ reputations took a
hit. Whether or not someone steals from us, ethical speakers handle themselves professionally.
THE CASE OF THE TIME-THIEVING SPEAKER
We have all been at a conference where a time-thieving speaker captivates the audience while eating into the
next speaker’s time. This demonstrates a lack of respect for the next speaker, the audience, and the client.
Stealing time seems innocent enough, but if you’re the next speaker you have an ethical dilemma: You were
paid for and planned for a 50-minute presentation.
Recently this happened to me. I ended up with fifteen minutes of my planned forty-five. After a quick
consultation with the event planner, we agreed I would speak for twenty minutes and offer a forty-five-
minute webinar the following week as a courtesy. The client was grateful to deal with a gracious professional,
and the company is now negotiating to purchase some of my training programs. As my mother always said,
“It pays to be nice!”
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Falsely Accused Comedian, the story demonstrates the importance of respect and
collegiality even in the face of a potential theft of intellectual property. Stories are based on common
experiences and derived from a limited number of available ideas. Some titles or jokes will inevitably appear
to be “borrowed.” It is important to give colleagues the benefit of the doubt, and
inquire about your concerns in a neutral, collegial way.
Two speakers were once accused of stealing each other’s story. It turned out they were both directly involved
in that story and had every right to share their own experiences. This happens with like-minded people.
In The Case of the Time-thieving Speaker, part of Respect and Collegiality is honoring the client’s
timeline and sharing the stage professionally with other speakers. Hogging the show is amateurish. Practicing
your timing and sticking to the time allotted go hand in hand with being an effective professional speaker.
 What would you do if you were the next speaker?
 Would you continue with your planned program as is?
 Would you cut your presentation to keep to the schedule?
 Would you shorten your program and offer to provide a webinar later to deliver the full program?
 Do you put this in your contract or make verbal agreements with your clients about scheduling and time
available before your presentation?
CONFIDENTIALITY
ARTICLE 6 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
“‘We have a simple philosophy when it comes to confidentiality—‘nothing; no-one; never.’ We don’t assume information given to
us is confidential; we mandate that it is until otherwise notified. That way we’ll never find ourselves in an embarrassing position.’
—Troy Hazard, CSP
(http://troyhazard.com)
Respect the confidentiality of business and personal affairs of clients, agents, and speaker colleagues.
Unprofessional sharing and gossip undermine any professional reputation and relationship.
As a speaker, you will witness corporate announcements, speeches, and secrets that outsiders are not
normally privy to. Companies must trust their employees to keep these matters confidential, and they must be
able to place this same trust in you.

You might even be approached by competitors who offer lucrative speaking fees in exchange for disclosure
of what you saw and heard. These companies must be told that though you’d love to speak at their meetings,
you’ll respect their confidential material the same way you respect all your clients’—even if that means you
don’t get the bookings.
THE CASE OF THE NOISY SILENCE
One of easiest ways to violate confidentiality is through social media. A speaker’s enthusiastic team posted
before, during, and after events. The problem arose when he let his guard down in the face of his eagerness
to share his activities and brag about his client’s amazing organization. Unintentionally, he breached the
company policy of not reporting successes so as to protect their competitive advantage.
Fortunately, when approached with this breach of confidentiality, the speaker took full responsibility and did
not blame his team. He consulted with his client and they created an online solution to repair the damage
and restore the speaker’s credibility with the company, and the company’s credibility with the public and
their stakeholders.
THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY TRIBE
Another speaker was especially gifted at building her tribe. The tribe tweeted away during her presentation.
During a break, it became clear that the organization’s employee audience was breaching confidentiality.
Though the speaker is not responsible for the actions of her audience, speakers are thought leaders who can
suggest proper and ethical behavior.
When you see audience members posting on public social media during your presentation, you can defend
your client’s mission by offering a reminder of the confidential nature of the material.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Noisy Silence and The Case of the
Runaway Tribe, it is clear that today’s ever-growing technology and lightning fast modes of communication
facilitate atmospheres where passion can rule out discretion.
Military audiences and innovative companies in competitive businesses require specific understandings about
confidentially and safety with regard to speech, email, voicemail, print, video, and social media
communication. My father-in-law, the late, Ira A. Glass, Commander USN (ret), a former submarine
commander, was fond of the old wartime saying “Loose lips sink ships.” On the water or on dry land, this
saying offers a mantra for ethical speakers. It is our obligation to learn industry-specific,
client-specific, and audience-specific guidelines for protecting confidential information to build and maintain
trusting relationships with our clients.
For speakers, marketing can pose a problem. Some clients will not grant permission to use their name or logo
in any context, whether in the media, on your website, or in an application. Asking the client is imperative to
maintaining trust.
What questions do you ask your clients in order to understand their confidentiality requirements?
How do you set an ethical tone for your clients’ and audiences’ behavior?
BUSINESS PRACTICES
ARTICLE 7 NSA CODE OF ETHICS

“Do what you say you are going to do.” —Dr. Joachim de Posada, Global CSP
Be honorable in business. Reach beyond your own conduct to prevent fraud or unfair practice in the speaking
profession, and actively work to eliminate all practices that could discredit the speaking profession.
THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE HONORARIUM

Two unethical practices relate to applicants for the CSP designation. To raise the total fees collected in a year,
some speakers accept a booking for an honorarium with the understanding that the speaker will return this fee.
Just as unethical is asking a colleague to “hire” you for a presentation given to a few friends, and then
misrepresent the context and the fees to help you qualify for the CSP designation. Receiving and returning a
check just to pad one’s speaking “income” is fraudulent and unethical.
Even talented and experienced speakers are not considered to be professional speakers unless they earn
speaking fees. The Certified Speaking Professional designation is earned by speakers who have worked hard
to master all Four Es: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise, and Ethics. Let’s keep the NSA speaker and CSP
brands strong by helping each other shine ethically.
THE CASE OF THE PRICE-FIXERS
Two speakers were contacted by a client. Knowing that whomever was not hired this year would probably be
booked next year, the two agreed that neither would lower their speaking fees to compete with the other. By
fixing their price, both speakers eventually got their full fee. This is a form of collusion, an unethical practice.
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Invisible Honorarium, anxiety about earning the CSP designation or gaining more
business overrides concerns for propriety and sound business practices. Misrepresenting your earnings or
trying to pad a resume for the sake of earning a CSP designation is outright fraud against the NSA. It
cheapens the CSP and NSA brands and diminishes your own reputation.
What would you say to these misguided speaker applicants? It is best to be kind, tactful, and directly
informative. There is no need to sugar coat the unethical or illegal nature of a transgression if one is
respectful in the discussion. It is the culture of NSA that speakers help each other achieve excellence. A
powerful way to do this is to use mistakes, missteps, and misunderstandings as opportunities to teach and
learn.
In The Case of the Price-Fixers, price-fixing is illegal and unethical collusion. Price-fixing or the
appearance of it is also a legal issue related to anti-trust laws. This is why speakers do not discuss fees in open
forums. Questions regarding fees are best addressed to valued mentors and paid speaker consultants. Within
a coaching context, fee discussions are healthy and honorable.
DIVERSITY
ARTICLE 8 NSA CODE OF ETHICS
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I believe that the unchallenged brain is not worth trusting. While
being inclusive might sound easy, in reality, our conscious and unconscious biases can often get in our way.
—Dr. Helen Turnbull, CSP
Be inclusive—the more the merrier. Reject any agreement or activity that limits or denies access to the
marketplace to anyone. Don’t engage in discriminatory practices based on economic factors, race, ethnicity,
color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or country of national origin.
THE CASE OF THE SECRET LATINA
When I first started speaking in the 1980s, a faith-based community approached me to create two series of
presentations—one on parenting and one on leadership. When it came time to sign the enticing yearlong
contract, it was whispered to me that they were looking for trainers for their staff on the topic of diversity.
The whisper confused me. Then, I got it; they wanted my help finding a speaker who was not Hispanic.
Thinking they were teasing, I laughed. They stared at me with confusion on their faces. I explained that I
thought they knew I was a Cuban-born American and they were being playful with me. They weren’t. I bid

them a respectful “adios” and lost that contract. Years later, they contacted me, asking for help fostering
diversity in their quest to create an ethical, inclusive workplace. Standing by our principles helps everyone in
the long run.
THE CASE OF THE DROPPED THE MICROPHONE
Dr. Helen Turnbull, CSP, a renowned expert on unconscious bias and diversity, generously offered this
anecdote. This is an example of a simple mistake that is a sign of a diversity challenge and opportunity.
“I remember as if it were yesterday. I was speaking at a conference. My male client and I were working with a male
technician to set up the audio equipment. I was introduced to the technician as Dr. Turnbull and we worked amiably
together for about 20 minutes. My client then said to the technician, “By the way, Dr. Turnbull also needs a
microphone,” to which the technician replied, “I will get him one when he arrives.” I am not sure whose jaw dropped
faster, mine or my client’s. Mental models, mind viruses, and unconscious biases are everywhere. The bad news is
that they do not go away. The good news is that when you become aware of them, you can make mindful choices and
limit their power over you.”
COMMENTARY
In The Case of the Secret Latina and The Case of the Dropped Microphone, ethics and common
decency require a discussion of diversity. We all have biases and prejudices. As Dr. Turnbull notes, with
awareness, we can “make mindful choices and limit their power” over ourselves and others.
In what ways do you take a stand on the value of diversity? Consider a time when you have benefited from
positive biases and been plagued by negative, more limiting prejudices? What is your obligation to educate
clients, vendors, and colleagues about diversity?
SPEAKER RESOURCES
Global Speakers Federation. http://globalspeakersfederation.
net, The GSF includes 13 member associations:
1. AFCP, Association Française des EXPERTS & Conférenciers Professionnels.
http://association-conferenciers.com.
2. APSS, Asia Professional Speakers – Singapore.
http://asiaspeakers.org.
3. CAP, Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.
http://canadianspeakers.org.
4. GSA, German Speakers Association.
https://germanspeakers.org.
5. IP BRAZIL, Instituto Palestrante - Índice Palestrantes do Brasil.
http://institutopalestrante.org.br/indexbase.html.
6. MAPS, Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers.
http://maps.org.my.
7. NSANZ, National Speakers Association of New Zealand.
http://nsanz.org.nz.
8. NSAUS, National Speakers Association.
http://nsaspeaker.org.
9. PSA, Professional Speakers Australia.

Code of Ethics


10. PSAB, Professional Speakers Association Belgium.
http://psa-belgium.be.
11. PSAH, Professional Speakers Association Holland.
http://psaholland.org.
12. PSASA, Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.
http://psasouthernafrica.co.za.

13. PSAUKI, Professional Speaking Association UK & Ireland.
http://thepsa.co.uk.
Hazard, Troy, CSP. Future-Proofing Your Business. Wiley; 1 edition, 2010.
International Association of Professional Motivational Speakers (IAPO).
https://iapcollege.com/program/membershipmotivational-speakers
International Association of Corporate Speakers. http://corporatespeaker.org
International Speakers Association. http://speakersassociation.org/InternationalSpeakersAssociations.
htm
Professional Keynote Motivational Speaker Ethics. http://difrances.com/ethics.htm
Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA). http://psasouthernafrica.co.za
Robert, Cavett, CSP, CPAE. Paid to Speak, Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business
Greenleaf Book Group Press; unknown edition, 2011
Seidman, Dov and Clinton, Bill. How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything. Wiley; Edition: 1, 2011
Shapiro, Norman and Anderson, Robert H. Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail. Rand Corp, 1985
Toastmasters International Accredited Speakers. http://accreditedspeakers.com/ASCodeofEthics.html
Women Speakers Association (WSA). http://womenspeakersassociation.com

SUCCESSFUL