By Sam Jones
Now that the recent health crisis is almost behind us, many organizations are getting back to planning events. Venues are reopening and public speakers are making themselves available again. However, many event planners are not sure what to expect when it comes to the costs and fees associated with hiring a professional speaker.
Choosing the appropriate guest speaker for your event can be a daunting task because they play such an important role in the overall success of your event. Not only will you need to make sure that they deliver a compelling speech, but you also need to make sure they fit your budget and that you are not overcharged. Here are some things to consider when addressing the fees associated with booking a professional speaker:
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- Four types of speakers
The first thing you need to understand is some of the basic frameworks that speakers come in. There are really four different types that include:
- Free – These are the inexperienced ones looking to get started
- Promotional – The promotional speakers looking to sell something using your audience (eg: books, consulting services, or some other promotional motive),
- Charitable – These individuals offer their time to support a cause
- Professional – These are the people who make most of their income by speaking
For this article, we are mainly focusing on professional speakers.
- Speaker fees
According to the professional speaking agency Keynote Speakers, these are the fees associated with hiring a speaker:
A. Between $500 and $5,000: This is the first level of speakers that you should budget for private events. Quite a few good speakers will accept this fee as it will help them in terms of their own professional career and it also represents significant compensation for the vast majority of available speakers.
B. Between $5,000 and $10,000: This is what you should expect to pay a professional and experienced speaker who has already given presentations in the past and has good reviews to be able to sell well.
C. Between $10,000 and $20,000: Now we are beginning to move into the field of more well-known and experienced speakers before large audiences that you find in large conferences. Most CEOs, highly regarded researchers, and emerging new authors would fall into this range.
D. Between $25,000 and $100,000 €: These figures are reserved for speakers of high status, and are more or less what you’d expect to pay for big names, world leaders, and authors “best selling” of the New York Times.
E. More than € 100,000: La crème de la crème. A rank typically reserved for ex-presidents, with this amount of money, even Richard Branson will pick you up on the phone.
3. How to negotiate speaker fees
The most important thing to remember is that only a selection of speakers have their rates set. Remember, each speaker has at least one other professional career (usually several) so you can use their “ulterior motives” as a bargaining chip to reduce the monetary cost.
Here are some tips provided by the speaking agency Motivational Speakers on how to negotiate the final price of the speaker:
A. Make sure it’s the right speaker
Before jumping into the negotiation, make sure you have time to talk to the speaker and be clear that this is the right speaker for your audience. Remember, that the name of the speaker is loaded with celebrity, does not mean that its content, performance, person or style fits with the needs of your event. Focus on thinking about your content expectations before you start negotiating rates.
B. Contact them in advance
The earlier you talk to them, the more time they will have to organize their calendar. Finding the speaker should be your number 1 priority, this way you can give speakers flexibility when their agenda is still empty and they are more motivated to participate in events.
C. Offer them more than money
If your target speaker is an author, you may find a way to help them sell more books by including a book signing section at the end of their presentation. If it concerns them to grow their personal brand, you can offer them the post-production of a cool video of their intervention and use it as a tool for attracting organizers interested in finding speakers for their events.
D. Offer them several dates
Most speakers would lower the rate if they could offer multiple talks at the same time. An alternative we propose is that you offer them more “face-to-face” time with your audience during the same event, through negotiating workshop sessions or panel discussions, along with their clear opening speech.
- Involve your sponsors
Having the weight of a recognized brand of sponsors always helps both in the negotiation process and in the perception of the value of the event by the speaker. “If you want to motivate someone to do something for less money, then you need to give them a reason” suggests Sean Adams of Motivation Ping. After all, it is in your best interest to make your event memorable.
The good news is, the mystery surrounding speaker fees is just as confusing as it is for the speakers themselves! Oftentimes, the speaker has no idea about the demand in his own market and how much they should be charged for. You can use this information when you hire your next speaker. Hiring a speaker is an investment in your product (event) and your priority should be to create a win-win opportunity for everyone involved.
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links.)