Keynote Speaker Cost – An Explanation
Keynote speakers’ fees can vary as much as the speakers themselves. They are often somewhat negotiable and also depend on many variables, including experience, the need to travel, and speaker content.
The short answer is that the keynote speaker cost can be between $0 – $100,000. Or more. Since the short answer is not much help, here’s a breakdown of the type of keynote speaker you may get for each price bracket.
- Free: It is possible to get a keynote speaker for free, but don’t rub your hands together just yet; it will either be a new speaker who is trying to get experience or someone who can push a product or service and hopefully make some sales.
- Travel expenses only: You may be able to get a speaker for whom you only need to cover travel costs. For similar reasons as above, this speaker usually intends to benefit from talking at your event.
- $500 – $1,500: this small fee is generally reserved for non-profit events or small conferences and depends on how much the event appeals to the speaker. While you won’t get anyone famous for this price, you will have a good number of speakers to choose from.
- $1,500 – $5,000: A lot of good keynote speakers will fall into this price range. You will probably have to negotiate to achieve this, however, as speakers often ask for more initially.
Generally, the lower in price you go, the lower the experience level of the individual speaking. At the top end of $5,000, your choice is considerably widened.
- $5,000 – $10,000: This is where you will find the top keynote speakers. For this price, you can expect good, experienced speakers who have had remarkable careers.
- $10,000 – $20,000: A major conference or global event with a large audience will typically pay this kind of fee for a well-known speaker.
- $20,000 – $50,000: This price range is celebrity territory. The higher you go, the more popular and more prominent the celebrity will be. We’re talking about household names or industry experts that have a vast fan-base or following.
- $50,000 – $100,000: For this price, you’re going to get an A-list celebrity or a global industry leader with speaker experience. There aren’t many individuals within this category, but those who are know they are worth the considerable fee. Usually, a speaker at this price will only be booked if ticket sales can recoup the cost.
- $100,000+: Want a former president? You’ve found their price range. At this price, even Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos will pick up the phone.
What about travel expenses?
As well as their fee, you should always expect to pay travel costs when hiring a keynote speaker. Bear in mind that the higher the fee, the higher the standard of travel and accommodation expected. A household celebrity is not going to stay in a motel!
For factoring travel expenses into the overall keynote speaker cost, budget for the following:
- Return flights
- Ground transport (a taxi or a chauffeur-driven vehicle)
- Overnight accommodation
- All meals and refreshments
- Audio/visual equipment used during the speech (particularly if you have booked a celebrity or high-caliber individual)
No fee is set in stone
Most keynote speaker fees are negotiable. You need to be organized if you want to negotiate though. Here are some ways that you may be able to lower a speaker’s fee:
- Last minute bookings are always at a premium. This is also the case for booking speakers. Book as early as possible, therefore, and make the speaker the priority when planning your event. The emptier the speaker’s calendar, the more you can negotiate.
- Offer your speaker a way to grow their own brand or promote their products or services at your event. For example, allow an author a book-signing session at the end of their speech.
- Book them for a string of events. If you’re holding several conferences for which the speaker is required, you should be able to negotiate a discount for multiple bookings.
- Get a sponsor. Having a famous brand backing your event can be an advantage. Not only could a sponsor contribute towards the cost, but having sponsorship also makes your event more desirable to speak at.
When looking to book a speaker, bear in mind what you should expect for your overall keynote speaker cost. Do your research to find the speakers who will fit your event best. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Even the lower ends of the price range can secure you a great speaker as long as you know what you want, you know what to expect, and you plan in advance.