What is the right speaker fee for your event? This article looks at fees, costs and expenses. It considers if keynote speakers should be less expensive when delivering digitally and even asks the question if some keynote speakers should be free…
How much do you pay a keynote speaker?
A keynote speakers’ fees will vary depending on several factors. You would expect to pay more for a celebrity, a renowned industry expert or a professional speaker with a vast amount of subject matter knowledge on an in-demand topic.
Speakers who bring an experiential keynote or help facilitate a transformation will also command a bigger fee.
Meanwhile, a speaker who isn’t well known, or who meets the audience at a superficial level, sharing their truth and stories with a dusting of inspiration will charge lower fees.
Here is a general budget guide to the costs of a keynote speaker:
£500 – £1,500 speaker fee band – This kind of budget buys you a newbie or a speaker who can provide you with a light introduction or an overview of a topic. Speakers at this level will often be trying to break into the speaking circuit while developing depth in their topic and enhancing their stagecraft. They will likely not have all their assets professionally developed, so they may not have a showreel or video evidence or a professionally written bio. This level of speaker is best suited to a small gathering. They may also be perfect if you want to provide an introductory session to your team, before deciding to go deeper with someone more expert.
£1,500 – £5,000 speaker fee band – Speakers at this level are usually taking public speaking seriously and looking to make headway as a professional. Speaking won’t be their only income stream at this point. In this category, you will likely find industry professionals and non-celebrity speakers with an average amount of experience. It is likely at this level that the speaker is going deeper into their topic and asking critical questions and conducting some research to deepen their knowledge. The closer the speaker is to a £5,000 speaking fee the more likely you can expect a deeper more experiential keynote for your audience. A speaker at this level will suit a modest-sized event.
£5,000 – £10,000 speaker fee band – Once you invest in excess of £5,000 per keynote you can expect to be booking professional speakers. These speakers are accomplished and seasoned speakers who regularly speak as part of their profession. As with the previous fee band, you can expect these speakers to have quite a lot of depth to their subject. You can also expect to find sports figures and athletes in this price band. You will also find published authors and business professionals at this level too. When you book a speaker at this level you would expect them to deliver something that aligns and enables a vision to happen. These speakers will be comfortable with audiences of any size and can adapt their keynotes to a more conversational style for smaller gatherings, or manage many thousands.
£10,000 – £50,000 speaker fee band – Speakers at this level are well-known. They may be household names. You can expect these speakers to draw a crowd and add prestige and more value to an event just through their name. Whereas the previous category would get you an author, this category would get you a bona fide best-selling author, likely with a number of books behind them. You would book this type of speaker for a high-level/high-class event or a major corporate conference.
£50,000 – £100,000 speaker fee band – At this level, you enter the upper tier of speaking. When you book a speaker at this level you are booking A-list speakers, most likely of celebrity status. At the £100,000+ level you are looking at famous politicians like former presidents, extraordinary business leaders or sporting icons. This category of speaker usually speaks at sponsored events or events that are held to honour someone or something.
As you can see the fees you can pay for a keynote speaker vary depending on the event, the audience and the needs of the person or organisation booking the speaker. If you are looking for change-maker speakers who can support your organisation through the changes happening in the world at this time, you should look at the bands between £1500 to £10,000. More expensive speakers will have more to share and likely have the ability to communicate the message better than the lower-priced speakers. However, there are some excellent speakers at the £5,000 level too.
As an agency, we’re always happy to help you find the right keynote speaker. You can enquire about speakers using this form.
What are the typical expenses and additional costs of a keynote speaker?
Expenses to consider in addition to the speaker include:
- Travel Expenses – Speakers have to travel to get to a venue. In most cases, speakers don’t pay out of pocket for travel, and clients are expected to cover the speaker’s expenses. Costs incurred may include domestic travel by car or rail or international flights, hotels, and additional costs like food. Speakers in the higher fee brackets are also likely to expect first-class travel. At Stellar Speakers, when our speakers live in the same city or area as the event, we are likely to ask the speaker to wave travel expenses because the costs are often minimal and not worth the admin on anyone’s part.
- Event expenses – In addition to the keynote speaker, your event will also require some level of production including AV, video, live streaming, venue, photography. Also, when you go to the expense of putting on an event and paying a speaker fee you will want to make sure people can hear the speaker. You will also want to make sure you capture the event so you can publicise it, using it for internal and external communication to show the work you are doing within the company to help your team and staff to develop. Contact us for help regarding this. We will put you in touch with professionals who can help.
- At Stellar Speakers, we introduce our event bookers to other services that the speaker can offer to increase ROI. Contact us through our website for more information.
Should the speaker fee be cheaper for a digital event?
There’s an assumption that a speaker fee should be lower for a digital event because there is no need to travel. As an agency we certainly see the validity in the argument, however the speaker has to think and plan for the digital event in very much the same way, except they have to work harder in their preparation regarding how they enhance engagement.
In our experience and that of other agencies we connect with, we’ve found that the number of briefings and checks a speaker is required for increases too.
We don’t, therefore, believe that a speaker fee should be lower for a digital event.
Can keynote speakers be free?
The most likely circumstance that a speaker will speak for free is when they are a new speaker at the beginning of their speaking career and want the experience or exposure. They may also wave the fee if the organisation they are speaking for carries some prestige. In these circumstances, they may be willing to wave their fee in return for their keynote being video recorded by the host and made available to them for a showreel. A speaker who is early in their career who has published a book may also agree to speak for free if they can sell their books.
Occasionally, a more experienced speaker may agree to reduce or waive their fee if they are invited to speak at a charity or fundraising function for a cause they align to.
In both of the above scenarios, it’s fair to expect the event host to reimburse the speaker for their travel expenses.
Another circumstance where a speaker may wave their fee is when they are being put in front of decision-makers who may book them in the future. The speaker may view this as a marketing opportunity.
Are keynote speakers worth the effort and cost?
In many organisations the CEO or Managing Director might decide to open an event with a keynote address. In some cases, they may feel obligated to take this role. The challenge with this is that not every CEO or managing director has the training, personality or charisma for this role.
A keynote speaker is not only trained and experienced, they are professionals who speak for a living. They have a gift for storytelling and taking the audience on a journey. They have a powerful energy and presence and they naturally inspire and when they are finished people naturally feel more motivated.
The keynote speaker you bring in to your event or conference will add value and often remove the worry of other pressures that surround the event by the atmosphere they create.
Recouping ROI on the keynote speaker fee
If your business income is just £1m per year, a keynote speaker charging a fee of £10,000 only needs to help you make a 1% shift to give you a return on investment. The question then is what 1% shift would you like to see?
In all truth, a good keynote speaker will likely make more than a 1% shift, but we suggest 1%, because it is an easily achievable benchmark.
For example, if you want to see a drop in absenteeism, consider the topics that will engage people more in their roles. A great example of this is the role purpose plays in an employee’s engagement. If you asked your team why they do what they do and they say, ‘because the boss says,’ or ‘because it needs doing’ it’s very different to a purpose such as ‘We help improve the life other people live,’ or ‘we provide green energy that will save the planet.’
Another option is to consider is how a wellness initiative could promote better well-being. If employees feel you are helping them learn, grow and develop and they see the purpose in their work they will become more committed.
To find out more about keynote speakers check out our Ultimate Guide to finding a key note speaker.
Stellar speakers are a unique speaker agency representing change-making keynote speakers. We provide expertise to help you manage your budgetary expectations and provide realistic options. We provide a preferred partner’s service base, so that partner clients get everything they need, lowering your risk as a booker of speakers, so you can make your choice about your next speaker with confidence.