November 30, 2023

Determining and negotiating keynote speaker fees can often feel like a maze. These fees can range from pro bono (free) to reaching six figures. While the distinction is quite evident when you’re comparing a local history professor to a former U.S. president, things can get murkier when you’re weighing multiple keynote speakers who are experts in the same field.

You might wonder why one speaker charges $7,500 for a talk on innovation while another commands $65,000 for the same topic. Well, let me shed some light on this. Drawing from my experience of over a decade in the Speaker’s Bureau industry, I can tell you that keynote speaker fees are typically influenced by one or more of the following factors: brand recognition, speaking prowess, relevance and popularity, experience, and marketing assets.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but this is generally what you can anticipate when you’re considering keynote speakers across different fee ranges. It’s all about understanding the value and unique qualities each speaker brings.

Speaker Fee Under $15,000

It’s important to note that a lower speaking fee doesn’t necessarily equate to lower quality. Many exceptional speakers charge less than $15,000. Some of these speakers are true gems— up-and-coming talents actively building their speaking reputations and thought leadership in their respective fields.

Conversely, some speakers in this lower fee range may have specific areas where they fall short. It could be due to limited speaking experience, less polished presentation skills (they may be experts but not the most engaging speakers), fewer impressive credentials in their field (perhaps they’re the CEO of a smaller company compared to a Fortune 500 giant), or a lack of well-developed marketing assets (like professional headshots, AV specifications, demo videos, or a comprehensive one-sheet).

Related Content: Hidden Gems: Booking Keynote Speakers that Resonate with Your Audience

Speaker Fee Between $15,000-$25,000

The sweet spot often falls within the $15,000 and above range for seasoned, articulate, well-prepared speakers who exude confidence. These speakers have the versatility to address a wide range of audiences. Whether they’re speaking to a small group of CEOs in a boardroom or delivering a humorous talk in front of a packed conference hall in Las Vegas, they easily handle it.

Speakers in this fee range actively customize their content, speak frequently, and leverage their talent and expertise to build their industry reputation. While they may not be global household names just yet, in our experience, there is a strong correlation between the quality of a speaker and their fee up to the $25,000 mark. Beyond that, other factors come into play.

Keynote Speaker Fee Between $25,000-$50,000

Speakers in the $25,000-$50,000 fee range possess all the qualities of those in the $15,000-$25,000 bracket but come with a premium price tag driven by their popularity and high demand. This popularity can be attributed to various factors, including a stellar reputation as a captivating speaker, addressing a highly relevant topic such as personal development, or being a well-recognized thought leader in their industry. Think of speakers like Seth Godin (full disclosure: my company represents him for speaking engagements). These are the speakers everyone wants at their events, which is why they can command higher fees.

Keynote Speaker Fee of $50,000 and Above

You typically pay for brand awareness when you venture into the $50,000 and beyond fee range. These are the speakers whose names you and your friends have heard and even your dog seems to recognize when they appear on TV. They often have New York Times bestselling business books and Netflix specials or are well-known figures in politics, sports, entertainment, or comedy.

You often invest more in the speaker’s brand name at these higher fee levels than their speaking skills. Global brand names can undoubtedly generate attention and excitement for an event. However, it’s worth noting that these speakers may not always tailor their talks to specific audiences or possess in-depth knowledge of your particular industry. The appeal here lies in their name recognition and star power.

Negotiating and Perfecting Your Speaker Request

Once you’ve pinpointed the speaker you want to book, think of the task of making the offer as a part of your event’s marketing strategy. Just as you meticulously draft messaging for any other event communication, consider this offer an extension of that approach. Your goal here is to help the speaker grasp your event’s value.

Read Also: Booking a Keynote Speaker: The Essential Checklist

Takeaway

Seth Dechtman, Keynote Speaker Curator Expert

Determining or negotiating keynote speaker fees can be perplexing, but I hope this guide has shed some light on what to expect at various price points. For assistance evaluating keynote speakers, refer to our other articles for additional insights.

Furthermore, if you need more guidance or want a comprehensive comparison of speakers within a similar price range, consider reaching out to Seth, an expert keynote curator. He can be a valuable resource in helping you discern the distinctions between speakers and identify the perfect fit for your event.

You may also reach out to us here for your perfect speaker needs.

     

     

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