Thinking about hiring a speaker for an event but you’re just not sure how much it will cost? Key Speakers Bureau makes it easy by helping you find and hire keynote speakers, negotiate the most favorable terms and coordinate logistics. With nearly 30 years of experience, we’re here to help you understand the factors to consider when hiring a speaker for your event:

Do speakers charge a flat fee or by the hour?

Generally, speakers charge a speaking fee per speaking engagement (not per minute, not per hour).

Is it less expensive to hire a speaker for a virtual event than for an in-person event?

Typically a virtual speaking event (either to a live audience or via a pre-recorded speech) will cost 10-50% less than their fee to travel to an in-person event. 

What is the typical duration of a keynote speech and what is included? 

The fee quote provided by a speaker is typically based on a standard 60-minute keynote speech or moderated conversation. If you are looking for a speaker to deliver only a 15-minute speech, the fee will most likely still be the same. If you’re requesting the speaker to participate in a morning speech, and then another speech in the evening, this could be considered a full day event and may incur a 1.5-2x fee increase.

What other types of activities will speakers participate in and how much will it cost?

Beyond delivering a standard keynote talk, many speakers are happy to participate in other formats and activities to help you get the most out of their appearance at your event. In addition to delivering a speech, you can hire many speakers for: half-day and full-day training and workshops, breakout sessions, meet and greets, Q&A’s, panel discussions, emcee and event moderation, or marketing activities in addition to a speaking opportunity. Some speakers will even promote your event on their social media channels or create a marketing video that you can send to attendees to amp up excitement and drive ticket sales.

Sometimes speakers are happy to participate in these additional activities as part of their standard fee and other times this will increase their fee depending on the type and length of the activity. Please mention all desired activities to our Key Speakers Bureau team so we can facilitate your requests to keep in mind when suggesting speakers and negotiating your contract.

Do non-profits or schools receive discounts on speaker fees?

A few speakers have different rates for non-profit organizations or educational institutions but this can vary. Our team will request specific pricing once we know more about your event and your top choices for speakers.

Does the scale of the event and audience size affect a speaker’s fee?

Not as much as you would think. Whether your audience consists of 20 or 500 people, this usually doesn’t affect their fee. However, if the event is to be live-streamed to a large audience across multiple regions or recorded for future use, it is more likely the speaker will charge a premium. It is important to let your agent know about recording intentions early in the ideation process, as many speakers do not allow recording or replay, and if they do, they often have guidelines around how recording can be used and for how long they can be saved.

Travel expenses and other costs

Traditionally, travel expenses are quoted separately from the speaking fee. How speakers handle their travel and expenses vary, but normally the client pays for the speaker’s airfare, hotel, ground transportation, meals and incidentals. The speaker usually books their own airfare and home-city ground transportation while the client books ground transportation in the event city and hotel accommodation.

Here are the three primary ways travel expenses are handled:

1) Speaker invoicing – Some speakers are happy to book all or part of their own travel expenses and then invoice the client for expenses incurred leading up to and during the event. 

2) Travel buyouts – Most speakers prefer travel buyouts which range from $1,000 to $5,000. The buyout covers origin ground transportation and flights. If you are booking a high-profile speaker, it is possible this will be much larger due to private jet expenses, hair and makeup, travel companion expenses, etc. 

3) Travel is included in the quoted speaking fee – Although less common, there are some speakers who handle their own travel and will include these expenses in their quoted speaking fee.

Here is an example of a standard travel and expense requirement: $2,000 travel buyout in addition to the appearance fee to cover airfare, home-city ground transportation, meals and incidentals. Client to book and pay for hotel accommodation and professional event-city ground transportation.

Deposits and securing a booking

Some speakers have their own unique payment requirements. However, the industry standard is: If the event is taking place within one month of booking, the full balance will be due soon after signing the agreement. If the event is happening a few months out, a 50% deposit will be requested along with the signed agreement, and the balance is due at least two weeks before the event.

What speakers can I afford with my budget?

There are many entry-level speakers who are eager to give an excellent hands-on keynote for under $10,000. However, this fee range will typically not get you a world-renowned, seasoned motivational speaker. If your budget is less than $10,000 but you want a higher caliber of speakers to choose from, you can consider booking a speaker for a virtual or pre-recorded speaking engagement to cut down on costs. 

If you have a budget of $15,000 to $100,000, this is a sweet spot to be able to hire a speaker with notoriety who is accessible and hands-on for your event. Most great speakers are happy to join a planning call and customize their talk to your unique goals.

Speakers who have a household name and who are considered celebrities rarely consider in-person speaking offers for less than $100,000 plus travel expenses. Speakers with a fee greater than this amount typically prioritize their primary career for which they are famous, and need more incentive to take on speaking invitations due to high demand. (think the Obamas, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Brene Brown, etc.)

Additional tips and takeaways

• Virtual speaking appearances are a cost-effective alternative to high speaking fees. Virtual speaking rates can be 10-50% cheaper than in person rates.

• There is typically no difference in fee for a 15-minute speech versus a 60-minute speech.

• Some motivational speakers are open to discounting their fee if  hired for more than one event by the same organization.

• When browsing our speakers, it’s easy to see where speakers are located or “traveling from,” or you can narrow your search to a specific state to keep travel costs down.

• You can increase your chances of securing a renowned speaker if they have a personal connection to your organization, mission, or the event location (does this give them a chance to visit their hometown?) Consider adding a cover letter to your speaking invitation, with the help of your Key Speakers Account Advisor.

• Be upfront about what you will need from the speaker – such as recording permission, promotional requests, the activities you want them to participate in –  so that Key Speakers can pair you with a speaker that checks all your boxes.

• Speaker bureaus like Key Speakers help guide you through the speaker booking process to help you negotiate the best deal with the most favorable terms.

Get started by using Key Speakers Bureau’s advanced search feature – use the fee slider to see which speakers fall within your event budget and desired category. Or, you can reach out to us via our contact us form to be paired with an agent who can help you find the perfect speaker for your event!