keynote speaker microphone in front of a waiting crowd

You’ve been tasked with planning an event for your organization. Maybe it’s the first event you’ve ever planned and you want to prove yourself to upper management. Or perhaps, you’ve been doing this for years but there’s something extra special about this conference. Either way, you want to make sure that the event is unforgettable and that your attendees walk away with excitement in their eyes and a “wow!” on their lips.

You’ve already considered the date, the venue, and the theme, and now it’s time to find the perfect keynote speaker to kick off your event and motivate your audience. They’ll have to be entertaining and you’ll still want your audience to walk away with content they can put into action once they get back to work. With a strict budget in place, the question on your mind now is, “How much is this going to cost us?”

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How Much Does a Keynote Speaker Cost?

Before we discuss how much a keynote speaker costs, let’s discuss the value they bring to your event. A motivational speaker sets the tone for your event whether it’s just an afternoon away from the office or a multi-day conference designed to set up success for the next year. They will engage your audience, get them excited about the upcoming program, and motivate them to take action once they’ve left the event. Six months, 1 year, or 10 years after your event, attendees won’t remember the food you served (unless it caused an outbreak of food poisoning), but they will remember a great keynote speaker.

It would be wonderful if there was a standard fee you could expect to pay for a keynote speaker, but this doesn’t exist within the speaking industry. While there are certain (approximate) tiers for speaker cost, there are a variety of factors that affect how much a speaker charges and how much wiggle room you have for negotiation. Keep in mind that your budget should always be a primary concern when selecting a speaker and this is one area in which you should never skimp. Chances are, you can find a quality speaker within your budget, or offer up other benefits to negotiate with a speaker in a slightly higher price bracket than you can afford.

Related: What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Motivational Speaker?

Factors That Affect Standard Speaking Fees 

So what factors determine how much a keynote speaker charges and what can you do to attract the best on a better budget? Here are several questions that will impact the cost: 

Are they an experienced keynote speaker? 

If they are just starting out, they’ll command a much smaller fee than someone who has been keynoting for 30-40 years.

Are they experienced in their industry?

While they may be new to speaking, they may be a true expert in their field with years of experience, books written, and a sizable platform.

Do they have to travel? 

Keynote speaking requires a lot of travel and many speakers are willing to offer their services for less if they get to sleep in their own bed at night. 

Will they be selling anything during their program? 

Are you providing them with the opportunity, the audience, and the time and space to sell their product or service at the event? If so, they may be willing to charge less since they’ll be making up for it in sales. 

Will you pay in full up front? 

Some speakers are willing to discount their price if you send them a check for the full amount at the time of booking. 

What type of organization are you? 

Many speakers will offer a nonprofit discount for smaller nonprofit organizations.

How big is the event?

Some speakers will charge based on the size of the audience with smaller audiences commanding a smaller fee and larger audiences costing more.

Are you offering any other perks?

Depending on the type of gig, a speaker may charge less if:

  • It’s an audience they want to get in front of
  • You’ll provide professional video
  • You’ll give them a testimonial and good referrals for future speaking engagements
  • They were planning to attend the conference anyway
  • And more…

Related: What Makes a Good Keynote Speaker?

What Is a Typical Speaker Fee?

Now that you understand what factors can affect pricing for a keynote speakers, let’s look at some of the common tiers within the industry: 

Free or for Travel Expenses Only: 

This may apply to a new speaker with little to no experience or someone who expects to make more during their program through the sale of their products or services. If they are the latter, they’ll likely only accept this option if they are in front of their ideal client who has the need and ability to buy from them. 

$500 – $5,000: 

You’ll attract newer speakers within this range and can expect to pay a fee within this tier for a small to medium-sized conference.

$5,000- $10,000: 

This is the fee for speakers who have given many keynote speeches and worked in the industry for many years.

$10,000-$20,000: 

If you’re planning a major conference, you should expect to be shelling out a fee in this range. You’ll be looking at superb professional speakers who are no stranger to keynoting large conferences.

$20,000 – $50,000: 

In this range, you’ll find motivational speakers in the top rung of their industry all the way up to celebrities like actors, musicians, and sports stars.

$50,000+: 

If you’re looking to bring in a current or ex-president, or someone like Richard Branson, you should expect to pay top dollar. 

Remember, the keynote speaker and the message they share is one of the most (if not the most) important aspects of your event. While all the other details will factor in to an unforgettable conference, it’s most important to find a quality keynote speaker who will communicate what you hope to communicate. Your speaker should energize and engage your audience, and motivate them to be the business rock stars you want them to be. This will ensure that your audience leaves feeling like they can take on the world and take your business to new heights.

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