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8 Questions to Consider When Setting Speaking Pricing for 2021

Setting your speaker rates can be a tricky task, as you want to be fairly compensated for your time while also remaining competitive in the market. There are a lot of factors that go into your pricing, so there isn’t one set rate that works for everybody. A planner with a decade in the industry has the experience to merit higher rates than one with only a few years under their belt.

As a result, you can expect your speaker fees to change depending on the situation and, for those still starting out, they will likely grow as you earn reputable standing throughout the speaker circuit.

Use these eight questions to guide your pricing based on where you are currently, but keep them on-hand so you can continue evaluating and updating your rates based on your experience and the market landscape.

Why do you want to speak?

Before anything else, you need to first consider why you want to speak in the first place. Is it because you enjoy it or are you looking to position yourself in front of your target audience? Do you want to turn speaking into a significant revenue stream? Your motivations for professional speaking will drive your pricing strategy, as well as your willingness to be flexible in certain circumstances. Get clear on your “why” before assigning any dollar amount to your worth.

What can the market bear?

You also need to consider what the current market can handle to avoid being priced out of the market. For example, many associations and groups have a tighter budget for speakers this year than prior, so you need to be smart to remain competitive in pricing. If you do want to charge top dollar, you must be sure that you’re willing to put in the work to practice and deliver high-quality education for the price. 

How do you want to structure your pricing?

There is no right or wrong way to charge for speaking, but some pricing structures work better for specific situations especially when factoring in travel and accommodations. There are day rates, per person rates, hourly rates (to include content development), and flat fees. I’m partial to flat fees to keep things simple, but I recommend upping the rate to include travel instead of charging those items separately. It’s more efficient to charge $1,500 and handle your flights and ground transportation than to charge $1,000 and rely on someone else to coordinate for you.

How valuable is the audience?

If you know you’re going to reach your dream clients with the opportunity to gain new business, you might be willing to be a bit flexible with pricing. In order to determine this, you’ll need to know the type of people you are most effective in converting. Go through your cash flow, review your bookings, and evaluate who is most likely to convert. When speaking to those groups, you may consider charging less for the added value of the opportunity.

What can you deliver?

People pay for quality and your fee should factor in the value of your delivery. It’s important for organizers to put someone on stage who is polished and can give a dynamic talk. Consider how practiced your topics are and price your onstage appeal accordingly. On the other hand, you may consider cutting fees for well-practiced topics due to the minimal prep needed to deliver.

What else is covered? 

A fee for getting onstage isn’t the only form of compensation, so you must also consider what else is being covered. Ideally, your transportation and accommodations should always be covered, as should meals onsite for the days you’re speaking. If enough is considered, you might consider reducing or waiving your speaker fee. For example, I’ll speak at a conference that doesn’t pay speaker fees but covers my registration because I know I’ll be in front of prospects that will convert. 

What is the opportunity cost?

When you accept a speaking engagement that involves traveling away from home, you have to consider the other costs that aren’t always factored in. For example, you may have to pay for a babysitter for the kids, daycare for dogs, or overtime for your staff to cover the office while you’re away. Keep these expenses in mind as you draw up a speaker fee to ensure you’re not coming out at a loss.

What about virtual pricing?

Virtual speaking engagements can get complicated because you don’t have to factor in travel or outside expenses. You don’t have to leave your office (or home) for more than a few hours. Yet, it’s still your amazing content that you’ve diligently prepared and practiced. You have to decide what feels right. This year, we waived most of our virtual speaking fees as a courtesy due to the pandemic. Normally, though, you can typically get by with a modest honorarium. If you charge, you need to be sure to provide real value in the way of compelling content, great tech for an engaging experience, and even some extra freebies at the end.   

If you came here looking for a magic number to define your rates, I’m afraid there isn’t one to give. There are many factors that impact your speaker pricing, including your topics, your industry experience, the desired speaking engagement, and the market you want to reach. 

Ultimately, you may end up with different fees for certain situations. These questions, though, will help you to land on a pricing range that is comfortable for you while ensuring you remain a viable contender in the mix.  


Lead photo courtesy WASIO Photography

Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits