Setting fees is a major obstacle for many speakers. My best advice? Stop
listening to those friends and family members who rave about your speaking
skills and promise that you are worth twice whatever you are getting paid.
The only opinions that matter are those of the people who hire you and
write the checks.
To figure out your real fee, take the money you brought home over a
certain period and divide it by the total number of engagements you had
during that time—including the freebies and the discounted gigs. That’s
your real fee, not what you tell people it is. That number represents
the accurate market value of the services you provide.
Then think about supply and demand. If you want to increase your
fee, find a way to build demand by expanding your value. Do your
research. Know what clients want and need, and deliver it. Increase
customization. Provide meatier takeaways. Project more authenticity.
Exceed their expectations. Be so unforgettable and relevant that everyone is talking about you, and the word-of-mouth promotion will give you
Once you increase your value, start watching for clear signals that it’s
time to raise your rates. You’ll be consistently earning your full fee, and
you’ll be so busy that you have to turn down profitable jobs. Likewise, if
you notice an abundance of rejections and an airy calendar, it’s time to
ask yourself whether the value you are delivering really justifies the cost.
Speaking is a pay-for-performance job unlike anything else out there, and
market demand gets to call the shots.
Just because you’ve been asked to give the
keynote at an event doesn’t mean that’s the end
of the income story. Approach the client about
facilitating a panel, acting as the emcee for an
awards presentation, or adding a breakout
session that digs deeper into a certain topic. By
offering more value, you can charge a higher fee
for the same amount of time away from home.
Plus, you’ll build a stronger connection with the
client and increase your chance of getting qualified referrals. Be sure to ask for them!
If you want to lock down the same event
next year, make sure the client knows you can
apply your killer delivery style to a wide range
of speech topics. Nothing saves time quite like
marketing “part two” of your speech before
you’ve finalized the contract for “part one.” Get
creative about upselling your services, and
you’ll expand your income with the least
amount of e;ort.
Many speakers leave serious money on the table when they book an event. Why? Because
they don’t confidently negotiate their fees and effectively communicate their value. Sure,
negotiating isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s a business reality. Since the need to negotiate
isn’t going away, invest the time to learn about it and get more comfortable with the
process. And think twice about handing over such a powerful opportunity to connect with
a potential client to someone else.
When you first interact with new clients, uncover the results they expect from the presentation. Their goal isn’t to just hire a speaker; it’s to create an event that impacts their audience
in a certain way. What’s the desired outcome? And do their budgets match their expectations?
If not, that’s your first point of negotiation.
As discussions progress, know your value and stick to your fee. Convince them that you
are the one to make their event a knock-out success. If they want a really big impact, they need
to invest in a speaker who can make that happen.
Negotiations take time, so be patient. The key is maintaining control of the conversation.
Rather than reacting to their low budgets by instantly discounting your fee or throwing in free
merchandise, concentrate on helping them understand the value you can offer and the results
you can generate. Get agreement on your rate first before you jump into add-ons and upgrades.
3QUIT FORGETTING THAT MARKET DEMAND ETERMINES YOUR FEE.