On one side, some professional speakers believe that you should never, ever under any circumstance, not in a hundred-million years, ever give a speech away. Conversely, some are more moderate in their viewpoint because there may be strategic reasons to give a presentation without charging the client.
The more in demand my keynotes become, the less inclined I am to speak for free. However, this was not the case when I started. Nine years ago, all I did was present for free. I highly recommend the no-charge path to any professional speaker just beginning—the pressure of being paid ups the ante on an already stressful situation. Giving a ‘volunteer’ presentation takes a lot of mental pressure off so you can relax (slightly), learn the craft, perform better, and gain confidence.
Setting the price temporarily at $0 can work for associations launching new products and events as well. When trying something for the first time, there is no shame in giving it away for free. Piloting a free offer takes a lot of the stress out. It was not perfect; no worries, our beta testers got the experience for free. Once your product is in demand. And once you get good at delivering this innovation, you can start to charge a fee.