You’ve got to understand who your audience is and what their culture is to ensure a great fit between your speaker and them. Imagine, to pull an example from a different area, what would happen if your audience was looking for a rowdy country band and you booked a classical chamber music quartet? No matter how good the quartet is, it’s not a good fit and it will probably be a disaster. Know your audience.
What Are Your Goals?
Do you want your audience to gain new wisdom, be persuaded, entertained, educated, or to effect change? What do you hope to accomplish with the speaker you book?
A Speaker or a Trainer?
Are you looking for a keynote speaker or a trainer? Keynote speakers tend to work with larger audiences (but not always), while trainers tend to work with smaller audiences (but not always).
Trainers usually present in half-day or full-day formats (or longer), and often are willing to customize their presentations to meet your needs.
Keynote speakers usually present in 30 to 90 minute formats, and as with trainers, they are often willing to customize their presentations to meet your needs.
Can the Content be Customized?
Many presenters are willing to customize their content to make it more relevant for the audience. Have a conversation with the presenter to discuss your needs prior to booking him or her for your event or training. Depending on the nature and extent of the customization, there may be an additional fee.
The earlier, the better, if for no other reason than to make it more likely that the date you want is available. Still, if you have a last minute need, it never hurts to ask. Most professional speakers, if they’re not available for your event, have a wide network of colleagues in the speaking profession and will gladly help you find someone else.
The National Speakers Association (NSA) is the premier organization for professional speakers. NSA offers a certification based on speaker performance, bookings, income, and recommendations called the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional). The CSP is an independent audit of the speaker’s presentation skill, business practices, financial performance, and ethics. The CSP is held by fewer than 12% of professional speakers worldwide. When considering a speaker for your event or trainer for your group, the CSP credential is your assurance the presenter you choose is known and respected by the NSA and its membership. The NSA membership also includes many individuals who, although not certified, are excellent speakers including well-known authors, educators, and trainers. This link will take you to an online directory of NSA member speakers.
Fees vary widely, based on the individual presenter, the nature of the presentation, the nature of the event, the location, and the size of the audience. Some inexperienced presenters may be willing to work for a few hundred dollars while celebrity keynote speakers often command six figure fees. Most major conferences pay their keynote speakers between $10,000 and $30,000. Commercial seminar training companies charge fees starting around $2000 for a day of training and go up from there, based on the nature of the training and the experience and other qualifications of the speaker. Fees for international engagements tend to be higher due to the amount of travel time required.
Are There Other Expenses in Addition to the Fee?
In addition to speaking fees, expect to pay for travel expenses. Some speakers expect reimbursement for everything including airfare, hotel, meals, taxi, tolls, tips, and so on. I generally only charge for airfare, hotel, and ground transportation. Some speakers charge a flat rate including travel. Again, discuss this with your presenter prior to booking.
Getting the Most From Your Speaker Investment
This link is to an excellent article by my friend and legendary speaker Patricia Fripp. In it, she discusses practical ways you can stretch your speaker budget while getting more for your investment. I am in complete agreement with everything she says in the article and encourage even veteran meeting professionals to read it. Getting the Most From Your Speaker Investment
I’m happy to help you work through the process, even if you choose to work with a different speaker. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (206) 988-5858.
Also, contact the National Speakers Association. Their phone number is (480) 968-2552. You might also check if there’s a local chapter of the National Speakers Association in your area. For example, I’m on the board of the National Speakers Association Northwest Chapter, based in the Seattle area.
Or, click the Request Info button to learn about scheduling me for your event.