How to Hire a Keynote Speaker.

It’s your turn to organize a conference.

You wonder, “How much do conference speakers charge? Do I need a booking agent? Who pays for travel and accommodation? Do I need a contract? What class of travel and hotel?”

Here’s some help …

What is a professional speakers’ fee for a one-hour keynote speech?

Here’s a very rough guide:

  • a part-time speaker who is learning his craft might charge one or two thousand dollars
  • professional corporate speakers who are competent but not well-known might charge $5,000 – or less
  • bestselling authors and sports stars will likely charge upwards of $10,000
  • world famous business gurus will likely charge $25,000 and upwards
  • former US presidents and corporate and sporting superstars may charge $100,000 or more.

Professional speakers’ fees might be more than you expected because:

  • to attend your event, your speaker may be away from his office for a whole day – and sometimes three or four days. You are not paying him for just a one hour presentation – you are paying him for time away from his office and his kids.
  • few people can stand in front a roomful of people and keep them engaged and amused throughout. It is a rare skill that takes years of practice. Rare skills that are in-demand are costly.
  • popular speakers charge high fees because they can.
Are Speakers’ Fees Negotiable?

Many speakers will negotiate. Also, most speakers will accept a reduced rate for schools and non-profit organisations.

And a common question regarding how to hire a keynote speaker …

Do I need a booking agent?

No. Before the internet it was hard to contact authors and “famous” people. So speakers had agents. You needed an agent to:

  • help you choose the best speaker for your event
  • contact that presenter.

Before the web, agents would mail bundles of videos to conference organizers so they could choose a speaker!

Today, every speaker has an online video with contact details. Speakers expect you to contact their office via their website.

So if I want to hire a speaker direct, do I need a contract?

You need a simple document outlining your agreement. Any professional speaker will have one although you may wish to amend it.

The agreement should outline:

  • time, date, venue and address of the event
  • the speaking fee – gross fee, deposit amount and balance, and the due dates
  • travel arrangements including class of travel, who books and who pays
  • accommodation arrangements, who books and who pays
  • whether the speakers products will be sold – and if so, how
  • what happens to monies paid in the event of cancellation of the event.
My speaker is flying from another city, should he travel the day before?

Absolutely. Flights are often delayed or cancelled. It isn’t worth risking your speaker arriving late or not at all. One night’s accommodation might cost you a few hundred dollars – and will save you a lot or stress.

If I decide to book through an agent, how much is a speaking agent’s commission?

At least 25%, usually 30% or more.

Will I have to pay a deposit?

Yes. Expect to pay 50% at the time of booking.

Will a speaker charge less if I by-pass the agent and book direct?

Some will reduce their fee.

When hiring a keynote speaker, what else do I need to pay for apart from the speaker’s fee?

Professional speakers charge a fee to speak, PLUS travel expenses PLUS accommodation:

  • Air Travel: Business class is standard. Some speakers are happy to let the client book and pay for the tickets. Other speakers prefer to make their own bookings and invoice the client.
  • Ground Transfers: Travel to and from the airport to the venue or hotel is also covered by the client. A professional limousine or car service is standard.
  • Accommodation: Five star accommodation is standard because a) speakers get tired of travelling and they want to be comfortable and b) speakers need and expect a professional business center – the kind that you only find in a five star hotel.
  • Meals: Breakfast at least. Some seminar organizers choose to cover all meals in the hotel, but not alcohol. Other clients just cover breakfast.
  • Laundry: Some agreements cover pressing and laundry, most don’t.

It is simple enough to hire a keynote speaker.
How to Hire a Keynote Speaker
See Andrew Matthews live onstage: 3 minute video

Was How to Hire a Keynote Speaker useful? See related posts:
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Author: Andrew Matthews

Andrew Matthews empowers audiences in 25 countries to enjoy their life and work. Andrew’s books, including “Being Happy!” and “Follow Your Heart”, have sold over 7 million copies in 43 languages.