GUIDE to the VALUE of Professional Conference Speakers and their Speaker Fees
What are the Speaker Fees for an Australian Conference Speaker?
Every conference organiser wants to know about SPEAKER FEES and usually has a set BUDGET to spend on speakers and entertainment. This Blog discusses the VALUE, PRICE RANGE and COSTS of hiring an Australian conference speaker.
Newbie conference organisers are usually shocked that someone famous like Richard Branson won’t come to their event for just $1,000.
Speakers Fees in Australia range widely from FREE to an APPEARANCE FEE of AUD$100k+ depending on many factors.
The bulk of professional conference speakers are in the AUD$5k to AUD$15k range ex GST for a keynote presentation. (see below).
How do Australian keynote speakers determine their speaking fee?
Fees for a Speaker are impacted greatly by things such as their fame & name recognition, availability & demand for the speaker’s services, the location of event, number and length of presentations and many other factors.
Most Professional Speakers have set a Fee Schedule for Local, Interstate, Overseas presentations and different types of presentation – Keynote, Workshops, half or full day or MC work. Obviously, you pay MORE for longer sessions and distant locations.
The time of busy Celebrities is valuable so some can also charge more for extras like book signings, photo opportunities, VIP meet & greet, lunch or dinner.
How do Conference Speakers determine what to charge?
A keynote speaker can ask for ANY amount they feel their time is worth – making an allowance for time taken on travel, briefings, preparation, admin, attendance as well as delivering the presentation itself.
Some celebrities, CEOs and wealthy business owners will NOT speak at all at ANY price because their time is too valuable. Many famous speakers and sportspeople also have limited availability.
How do you VALUE a Professional Conference Speaker?
You are NOT paying JUST for the short time of the speaking presentation itself, you are paying for ALL the years of experience and preparation that has gone into it.
ALL the preparatory work, research and effort that has enabled them to be skilled enough to deliver a consistently great presentation every time to entertain and engage the audience.
A great presentation that is truly transformational and adds significant value to the attendees and the organisation.
They are being remunerated for ALL the hours of speaking skills development, storytelling, humour, learning, coaching and practice. Delivering a GREAT presentation takes WORK.
So when you pay more than AUD$7k for a GREAT Professional Content Speaker they will usually have some proprietary cutting-edge intellectual property that is highly relevant to the marketplace and probably has published a book and appeared in the media.
They will have numerous testimonials confirming the quality of their presentation, their ability to connect, engage and entertain an audience, and provide useful tools and information that has a real impact on the audience and the organisation.
What is the RANGE of Speaker Fees in Australia?
Speaker fees are rarely discussed openly and are a mostly a well-kept secret discussed between clients, bureaus, agents and the speaker. They are rarely made public.
For smaller events, charities or not for profit events, a more modest fee is acceptable, especially if travel is covered. If the speaker really wants to speak if front of that audience or attend that event – the fee may be reduced.
Speaker prices will usually vary depending on Location, Type of Event, Duration, Value added and any extras required. Well known or famous Speakers can draw a bigger crowd and charge more for that.
David Staughton’s GUIDE to Australian Speaker Fees in 2020
- Newbie, industry and academic speakers MAY speak for FREE or “Exposure” (haha), or a Charity Donation, Book Sales or for their Travel Costs only
- Basic Content Speakers and Trainers charge around $1k to $4k+GST for a keynote or breakout workshop
- Good Professional Content Speakers start around AUD$5k+GST for a keynote
- Great Professional Content Speakers start around AUD$7k-$9k for a keynote
- Awesome Speakers with valuable content and Better-Known Celebrity Speakers start at AUD$10k+GST for a keynote and can add value as a conference headliner
- Really Famous Celebrity Speakers and content speakers offering significant value-add before and after the event start at AUD$20k+GST and can attract MORE attendees
- Really Big Name Celebrities can charge around $50k+GST or more just for an appearance at an event. This can attract more A-Listers to your event.
- Guru Speakers that do “Selling from the Stage” style public events to big audiences can earn fees of well in excess of $50k+ from product and membership program sales but are rarely found at conferences.
Some Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) may also add on or ‘mark up’ a speakers fee and some bureaus also charge a booking or admin fee.
Can you negotiate a Speakers Fee?
Yes you can! – In a competitive marketplace Speaker Fees can occasionally be negotiated directly with the speaker, their agent or through a speakers bureau. Many professional speakers DO have ‘price integrity’ and offer the same price to all parties through all distribution channels. But you might get a deal or an added extra like signed books.
You can ALWAYS ASK for a lower speaking fee and give a REASON for a better price – like making multiple bookings, offering a great holiday destination, selling the benefits of your event or a charitable cause. The speaker can always say NO.
Who pays for TRAVEL COSTS for the speaker?
Many professional speakers charge additional travel costs that can include airfare, accommodation, ground transport and/or meals. (Some may also ask you to fund travel for a nanny or support person).
Some speakers also charge travel time for international work and others just charge a higher keynote fee.
Some famous speakers and entertainers have specific “riders” or expectations and insist on business class travel, higher quality hotel rooms or other special conditions like red skittles.
Should I hire a NEW speaker at a lower cost for my conference?
Probably not on the BIG stage. The problem with speakers < AUD$5k +GST is that they are generally NOT well known or NOT very experienced speakers and sometimes get inconsistent results with different or difficult audiences. Free speakers may also be unreliable, cancel at the last minute or NOT turn up at all. Caveat Emptor – Buyer beware.
How much do Conference Speakers charge in the USA?
USA Speaker Fees can be two or three times what you would pay in Australia for a similar speaker and US Speakers are used to speaking to much bigger audiences.
You can find many professional speaker prices on the speaker directory E-Speakers – These are usually in US Dollars and this may be the inflated USA speaking fee for an Australian-based Speaker NOT their usual Australian speaking fee.
Australian Speaker Fees are a BARGAIN in comparison to the USA!
How much do USA-based Speakers charge when speaking in Australia?
When speaking in Australia, many USA Professional and Celebrity Speakers want to charge their US Speaking Rates, plus extra days of travel time and business or first class airfares which makes them prohibitively expensive and rarely used in Australia.
Some Overseas celebrities come to Australia for speaking tours and do multiple events in the one trip which reduces their travel time & expenses.
International Celebrities like Bear Grylls, Sir Bob Geldhof, Mark Randolph (Netflix CEO), Verne Harnish and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak come to Australia on occasion to speak.
2020 PRICE GUIDE FOR CONFERENCE SPEAKERS IN AUSTRALIA
Here is a speakers fee guide for a Standard Keynote presentation (say 45-75 min) at a Conference – more if you want multiple keynotes, workshops or other services.
- FREE SPEAKER. You might get a FREE speaker if they are new or inexperienced. Sometimes consultants, service providers or suppliers will speak for FREE to promote their other services. Some might just sell books or products instead of charging a fee. (Some Free speakers ‘make great authors’ and others just cancel at the last minute)
- AN HONORARIUM or TRAVEL ONLY. Newer speakers, professional service providers and some academics will speak and only charge a fee to cover travel and/or the conference ticket. They usually want to attend the event to network, build their profile or sell other services afterwards. (It’s Pot luck with these speakers)
- AUD$500 – $2,000. A small fee is charged by newer and inexperienced speakers or trainers to just get on a stage. Usually for smaller or charitable events. (Hit & miss – you pay for what you get)
- AUD$2,000-$4,000. A modest fee for a competent trainer or new keynote speaker, usually for a less accomplished speaker or trainer. (again, you pay for what you get – keynote speaking is NOT a training session)
- AUD$5,000 – $10,000. A typical range for most professional keynote speakers – content experts who have given MANY keynote speeches in the past and/or have serious career accomplishments.
- AUD$10,000 – $20,000. You will get well-known and famous keynote speakers who will attract more attendees to your major conference. Some content specialists with proven methodologies also charge in this range.
- AUD$20,000 – $40,000. Many Celebrities that are a well-known household names or alternatively, category experts that are a big drawcard. Think very famous Authors, Sportspeople, Politicians & Movie Stars.
- AUD$40,000 – $100,000. The TOP celebrity speakers’ fees – World Famous names that can attract and entertain a large crowd.
- AUD$100,000+. Big Bucks. The biggest name politicians in the world or world-famous celebrities & stars that can fill a stadium. Check some of them out at Washington Speakers Bureau
CAVEAT EMPTOR – BE VERY CAREFUL HIRING NEWBIE SPEAKERS – There are MANY newbie speakers with great looking websites who charge higher prices than they are worth because they THINK they are great speakers. Look for PROOF of their significant speaking experience & abilities or recommendations from PCOs, Speaker Bureaus and people you trust.
Finding Speaker Fees for Individual Speakers
Most speakers do NOT have their fees on their website. You can make enquiries with a friendly speakers bureau to find out the speaking fees for most professional speakers or contact your chosen speaker directly.
Some individual Speaker Fees can also be found online here
- High end politicians fees
- This OLD ‘out of date’ CRIKEY article from 2011 gives you some idea of the range of speaker prices. Some of these speakers have left the speaking circuit or significantly changed prices.
When should a Speaker Put Up their Speaker Fee?
- If your speaking is in DEMAND and presentations numbers & enquiries are going UP – Then consider putting up the Speaker FEE.
- If you are NOT in demand and your volume of speaking gigs is going DOWN – improve your marketing & sales efforts or reposition & re-invent yourself
ABOUT THE BLOG AUTHOR – David Staughton CSP
David Staughton is an Award-winning Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), past board member of Professional Speakers Australia and advisor to a large Australian speakers bureau.
David is also a successful serial entrepreneur and an expert on Future-Proofing your Business
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