What Does a Keynote Speaker Cost?

The short answer? It depends.

There are speakers for every budget but event planners need to spend less time thinking about the cost of bringing that individual to their event and more about the return on investment. For inexperienced planners, their expectations might quickly be tempered by the limits of their budget, so it’s important to know what your organization can afford and to work with a speakers bureau, who can get you the maximum value for your available dollars.

Why do I say this? Because a keynote speaker can make—or break—an event. The return on investment that I mentioned earlier can skyrocket or tank, based solely on the keynote speaker, so if there is an area of your budget that you want to skimp on, let it be on a different line item than your speaker.

How are fees decided and charged?

Every speaker sets their own fees and by working with a bureau—whose fees are charged to the speaker and not the event planner—you can sometimes get a better deal. Why? Because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, a bureau has  leverage with the speaker to negotiate the best possible rate.

A bureau will also set up the contracts and arrange for travel and so on, leaving you free to concentrate on other aspects of your meeting or event.

What can you expect to pay?

Speaker fees can range from a few thousand dollars to over a hundred thousand dollars but a mid-range speaker, such as a great business keynote speaker, a professional athlete keynote speaker, TEDx speaker, or well-known motivational speaker will likely fall somewhere in the range of $7,000 – $20,000 for a keynote speech.

Ultimately, you need the right speaker for your event and that doesn’t always mean a household name. Fame doesn’t automatically mean that they are a good fit for your meeting. For example, if your event is a closed event for members of the coast to coast corporate team only, a $50,000 big name won’t necessarily be the main draw. Having said that, the cachet provided by a well-known speaker can do a lot for an open event where tickets are being sold to the general public or to a bigger group than one organization.

Why are celebrity speakers so expensive?

The more well known a speaker is, in a general sense and not with a specific segment of the population, the higher fees they can command. It’s just the laws of supply and demand at work.

A celebrity speaker does bring a lot to the table, besides ticket sales. They add credibility to an event and to your organization. People will get the sense that your organization has relevance and value, since the celebrity speaker made the time in their schedule to attend.

Their presence will also generate a fair amount of media attention, which can be particularly useful if your event is related to a cause or fundraising. Finally, attendees will likely come away feeling like they got a lot out of an event when the keynote is a notable celebrity

Are celebrity speakers worth the money?

Celebrity speakers—think Richard Branson—can sell tickets for an event just by being announced as the keynote. There are people who would attend without giving a second glance to what the event was actually about.

So I’m coming back full circle to the notion of return on investment. You have to have a clear understanding from your planning committee as to what the goal of the event is. If it’s to draw big numbers to get more people familiar with a new piece of technology, a celebrity speaker with a tech background might make sense and would probably be worth the investment.

If the point of your event is to get a specific group of people up to date, for example, on new legislation in their field and plans for the financial market, Kendall Jenner, regardless of her cachet as a celebrity, isn’t your best choice.

Working with a speakers bureau can help you to define those needs and put together a budget that makes sense, given your plans and requirements. They are professionals who can put the sparkle into your event by matching you with the right speaker.

Contact Midwest Speakers Bureau today and let’s start planning!

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