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Speaking Fees… Did You Consider These Items?

You spoke at a local association’s Lunch and Learn last week and now one of the members has called you to ask if you’re available to speak at their upcoming regional conference. Woo-hoo! Or maybe you’ve been getting paid to speak at regional conferences and have just been asked to speak at a national conference—one you know pays big bucks. Double woo-hoo!!
Both of these situations beg the question: what do you say when the meeting planner asks you about your fee? It’s kind of a catch 22 question because neither of you wants to show your cards first. They’re hoping you’re going to quote them a fee that fits their budget. You’re hoping not to leave any money on the table.
If your goal is to get paid for speaking, there’s no time like the present to come up with a fee strategy. So here’s a short list of four questions that will help you organize your thoughts around how you’re going to grow your fees.
What are your typical speaking expenses? For example, are you traveling to speaking engagements? If you are, how much does the trip to and from a venue usually cost? How far are you willing to travel? Do you need lodging? Are there supplies you have to purchase for your presentations? We might think of these kinds of out-of-pocket expenditures as investments, but at some point we want our investments to start paying off.
What is your earning potential with this event? Will you be allowed to sell from the stage or from the back of the room? Will you have a breakout session? Is the event willing to pre-purchase copies of your book/programs/training materials? Or will you be speaking somewhere that doesn’t provide those types of opportunities? Think about both situations in terms of dollars.
Are there perks that might work as trade-offs for accepting less money? Are you willing to take less money if they will pay all of your expenses? Maybe they’re offering to promote you while they’re promoting the event. Can this meeting planner recommend you to another group that you can speak to during the same few days? Or maybe you can book yourself at another event/venue close by and get paid for both.
How valuable is this opportunity to you? Most speakers want to keep growing, and that means tweaking their presentations, trying new approaches, presenting new material, and even branching out to new audiences. Is a smaller fee worth the opportunity to try something new or different? Or maybe the location of the event will give you a chance to check off a bucket-list item?
Another approach might be to try and get a sense of how much money the event has to spend on speakers, but don’t make this your first approach to determining your fee. Come up with your fee based on your research about the true cost of an event for you. It might take a couple of events to get comfortable with charging a higher fee, but there’s nothing quite as attention-grabbing as a speaker who is confident and comfortable with their topic and their fee.