Sunday, August 19th, 2012 with
Since the amount of money that keynote speakers charge seems to be a closely-guarded secret, I thought I would demystify it. First of all, a keynote speaker can ask for any amount they feel their time is worth; but in almost every case, their fee falls into a certain rubric, which I have attempted to create below.
NOTE: If you work with a speaker’s bureau, expect to pay 2-3x the speaker fee you would pay if you talked to the speaker directly.
- Free. You can get a keynote speaker to speak for free if they are a new speaker without much experience, or if their business model allows them to make money without receiving a speaker’s fee. For instance, many speakers offer consulting or some other service which attendees might be interested in, so if they intrigue the audience during their speech, they might get business out of it. Another reason someone might speak for free is if the event or conference is local and convenient for them.
- Travel only. Similar to the free speaker situation described above, a keynote speaker can often be retained for just the price of their travel (flight + hotel) if the speaker is new or benefitting from the speech in some way besides the speaker fee. Often, conference or event organizers will pay a flat amount for the flight / hotel, leaving it to the speaker to book the travel themselves. A travel stipend might start at something as low as $350 and go up to a few thousand dollars for international engagements.
- $500 – $1,500. Keynote speaker fees in this range would apply to non-profit events or very small conferences. It is considered a small fee, but if the speaker really wants to participate, it can be enough to get them there. If travel is included, this fee range can fetch a modest percentage of the non-famous keynote speakers out there.
- $1,500 – $3,000. Like the last category, this fee range is modest for a keynote speaker, so would likely go to a professional speaker with less experience or accomplishments, or simply a person that speaks for a living and needs the work.
For smaller events, a more modest fee is acceptable, especially if travel is covered.
- $3,000 – $5,000. Many very good keynote speakers will accept this fee even though it will be below their ask. This is real money for the majority of speakers out there.
- $5,000 – $10,000. This would be the typical range for top keynote speakers – people who have given numerous keynote speeches in the past and/or have serious career accomplishments.
- $10,000 – $20,000. Most of the major conferences pay their keynote speakers something within this range. Even for some of the more well-known keynote speakers, this is no fee to sneeze at; and if it is, keynoting the conference is probably an honor in itself as well.
- $20,000 – $50,000. This is the range for most celebrity speakers. When I say celebrity speakers, I mean actual celebrities that are household names or alternatively, category experts that are such big draws that it simply makes economic sense to pay this fee.
- $50,000 – $100,000. The top celebrity speakers’ fees are in this ballpark. There are only a few dozen folks that would be priced above this range. Typically, an organization paying a fee like this one can do so because the keynote speaker is such a big draw that ticket sales far exceed the amount of the speaker fee.
- $100,000+. Interested in hiring Bill Clinton? Richard Branson? Donald Trump? You’ve found your range.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, e-mail me anytime.