Understanding Speaker Fees

Sucess Clique with Tarran Deane, Australia's Corporate Cinderella.com.au 61 417 654305Professional Speakers combine years of subject matter and personal life experience with acquired expertise around key knowledge bases, study and a unique communication style and personality!


In this blog I wanted to help ease the awkwardness that can emerge when people on both sides, Speakers & prospective clients,  don’t have a clear understanding of why Speakers charge a fee. I’ve been there myself. I used to speak ‘for free’, as part of the many roles I’ve held throughout the past 25 years. All this with the blessing of my past employers over the years. Keynotes at conferences, seminar presentations, facilitating workshops, mentoring sector colleagues, well it was all part of the senior management position. Getting paid or the company being ‘reimbursed’ was never discussed.


Professional Speaking Isn’t a Hobby



It’s a whole different ball game, when you do this for a living! As a Professional Speaker we needed to give ourselves permission to be valued for our intellectual property. We live and breathe increasing knowledge, statistics, world events, economic factors, case studies, marketing, online development and the list goes on. Professional speaking isn’t a hobby.


Speakers as InfoPreneurs, EntrePreneurs & Small Business Owners


Professional Speakers are in fact “InfoPreneurs” Many Professional Speakers are members of National Bodies and work with professional Speaker Bureaus and Agencies to negotiate invitations, content, speaking fees and follow-up on their behalf.


Others run their professional speaking business as part of their own enterprise. The Speakers are entrepreneurs and small business owners. When you ask a speaker to speak for free it’s like (A) going into your local butcher and ordering the best cuts, letting them wrap it and handover it over you without paying. Seriously! Too much? Try this one then (B)  it’s like asking your staff to come in to the office and work for free AND often pay their own resources AND give you the IP they’ve developed over the years for FREE.


Professional Speakers Know Every Business Is Running On a Budget 


If you’re planning on hosting an event, always be encouraged that professional speakers understand you’re on a budget. We simply ask in return that you consider the nature of your event, the change you want to effect in your audience members lives, the nature of the topic you want covered, the proven communication skills a professional speaker can bring to your platform. You are buying a value package…..a transformation!


 The Buyers Mindset – What Are You Prepared to Pay for a Speakers Input


In complementary fashion, please also consider if you’re planning to ask for a fee reduction determine from your company value set, what your willingness is to pay for that value package?


A huge thanks to my clients who have valued us by understanding that our fee embodies more than a transaction. We’re committed to transformation! Our clients become part of a diverse community where we delight in looking for ways to shower extra love and attention, insight and tools to help them flourish! Side comment – I have the most wonderful clients!


Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions or Comments, Speaker’s Come Across:


[Note this list is growing through our recent social media invitation to professional speakers and the responses are being compiled. If you have more questions you would like us to list please email us at office [at ] corporatecinderella.com.au and we’ll be sure to invite responses from our Speaker network]




Q. We don’t have a budget. Can you speak for free?


Tarran’s Response:


Reality: Sharing our expertise through speaking is our primary income source.


We’ve given careful thought to our pricing structure. 90% of speaking engagements are at full rates. We must always cover costs, particularly travel, transfers, handouts, marketing, administration and a minimum fee for Tarran as a Speaker.


Other factors:


1. Let’s first talk about you and your business. Are we a good fit before we go any further?


2. Let’s talk about your audience. Are you charging a fee? What is your aim for the event?


3. Is there an opportunity for some kind of contra-arrangement, strategic alliance or joint venture? Will you promote the speaker to your database, provide opportunity for pre or post event mingling or discuss some form of mutually beneficial ‘contra’ arrangement e.g. In the past photographers, venue organisers, networking groups and large conference hosts and I have shared our collective wisdom for the benefit of both of our respective target market and professional growth but always respecting the other persons decision to defer to standard fees


4. What is the topic you’re wanting to cover as you be able to access different budget allocations for the presentation costs e.g. part technology (for my Toolbox Leadership component and HR for Culture Leadership)


In every instance, it’s vital we gain a clear understanding of what’s involved before we let finances impact on discussion.



Q. We’re a non profit and don’t have much money. Can you speak for free?


Tarran’s Response:


I love working with NGO’s and NFP’s. In fact, I worked in the sector for almost 10 years in a strategic and operational management capacity. Working alongside organisations that are passionately committed to their cause is very admirable! I’m delighted by the number of flourishing NGOs & NFPs that understand that to be not for profit, one must be ‘not for loss’.


Investing in the growth of your People, Practice and Processes yields a positive return. Funding that investment can be drawn from non traditional funding pools, such as marketing (developing their communication & PR skills), OHS (strengthening teams, creating more collaborative cultures and reducing risk exposure to breaches of the OHS legislation), IT (developing your online leadership presence through the development of appropriate automated systems, including social media scheduling tools etc)  depending on which of our  Leadership Suite of Topics you’re seeking!



Q. How much do you charge and what is your payment method?


Tarran’s Response:


Our fees are reviewed quarterly. Quotes are valid for 30 days. Payment terms are per your individual quote



Q. Why is your fee this amount $xxxx? You’re speaking less than an hour…


Tarran’s Response:


On top of the ACTUAL time a speaker is on the platform, every Speaker typically allocates a minimum of 40 hours preparation, research, administration, accounting, crafting the story, designing the presentation,  tailored responses to research results, practice of the presentation before the day of delivery, so that it is rehearsed but beautifully natural and ‘spontaneous’, engagement and follow up strategies per speaking engagement.


Additionally, our travel, pre and post networking components are all designed to enhance the desired outcomes for the event organiser.


It’s never just a 50 minute speaking engagement or a half day workshop! Most professional speakers care SO much about the organiser, the audience, the outcomes, their topic of expertise and own brand reputation,that we invest a lot of ourselves in YOUR success!



Q. I know you said that on this occasion you’ll speak for free, but please we insist on paying you and valuing your time and expertise


Tarran’s Response:


Oh, this has got to be one of the sweetest compliments an event organiser can give a Speaker. When hearts and values align… when grace has been extended, the integrity of the organiser is still to ‘honour’ the speaker by making a financial gift or ‘token’ of their appreciation. They understand the principles of sowing and reaping.


Learning to receive graciously as the speaker and accept the nominal figure also honours the ‘giver’! It’s then up to the speaker to determine if their own  financial obligations give them the room to ‘pay it forward’

Q. Can we have your powerpoint presentation in advance, like 1 -3 days?


Tarran’s Response:


I need to understand the framework around such a request first as the IP that is shared is unique to me and many speakers guard the presentation content for maximum impact until the morning of the event.


Unless I’ve worked with a company before or it’s a very large conference (e.g. more than 1,000 people, with a guest list of many speakers and the audiovisual team need it) my preferred electronic delivery of the presentation, using ‘DROPBOX’ or similar, is no sooner than 24 hours before.


With multiple clients and sometimes back to back conferences, I like to make sure my content carries references to emerging news items, trends or case studies. In some instances, I could be on a plane tweaking the final keynote presentation as much as 2 hours before the event. I prefer to email a copy to the host the day before but have the freedom give an updated version on arrival to the event if necessary. It doesn’t happen often but occasionally world events, local issues add that little piece of magic to the presentation


Q. Can our audience members receive a copy of your full powerpoint?


Tarran’s Response:


Generally speaking… no.


Alternatively I often like to do a special landing page within my website where I have some control about how my IP is accessed. I have been known to give conference attendees a special password where they can access the presentation or a special offer following the event for a limited timeframe.


This approach has highlighted the conference attendees who are serious about implementing their learnings and taking accountable actions.


Q. Will you include giveaways in your Speaking Presentation


Tarran’s Response:


Like many Speakers my presentation is ‘the tip of the iceberg!’ Complete to the brief and valuing adding, there’s still greater opportunity for audience growth when participants have access to additional reosurces following the event!


The toughest decision a speaker may have is deciding on what gets left out of a presentation – it’s easier to speak for 10 hours than it is for 1hour!


Therefore to ensure that participants in the audience can expand their knowledge, you’ll find we offer more information, resources for growth, and engagement strategies to help them flourish in their professional and personal lives. Some of these may be give aways, saleable resources like learning materials or tailored opportunities with a limited time access


It is common practice to provide the speaker with a resource table near the entrance to the room for traffic flow – it creates a great atmosphere. Generally the table will be a linen covered trestle, so that unsightly boxes may be hidden underneath

Q. We know you’re coming to our city in xx month. Can you stay an extra night and we’ll cover the cost of transfers to the airport plus your speaking fee


Tarran’s Response:


As a Speaker you’ve got to be very clear on who your target market is and what your not negotiables are. Staying that extra day could mean you don’t get to speak at that full paying event in another city, dramatically impact your cashflow. Alternatively, staying that extra day could be an unexpected bonus, putting you in front of a group of individuals that you’d simply love to do business with!


My thoughts: always ask a speaker if this is ‘doable’ and be realistic and gracious if they can’t. Nobody, not even a speaker, likes to feel they’re being used or that another client has paid for the luxury of a secondary event organiser getting the benefit of you….


Q. What if we cross promoted you during the event and provided you with an opportunity to share your resources to our audience at the end of your topic?


Tarran’s Response:


Cross promotion and a link back to the speakers website is a minimum expect ion, so too is the opportunity for the Speaker to provide learning resources and / or additional programs for audience members PROVIDED there is no conflict between what the Speaker sells and what the event organiser sells…. If in doubt, simply ask…


Q. Can we record your session and send it out to our network and charge a fee, even though we’re not paying?”


Tarran’s Response:


As part of my Speaking Engagement Contract, the audiovisual rights of my presentation belong to Corporate Cinderella. These rights may be shared only through the express written permission from Corporate Cinderella and stated on the Booking Proposal PRIOR to the event.


Interestingly, I was recently speaking with a videographer who is called into conferences to film events He’s been caught out on occasion when an event organiser has not thought to obtain permission from the Speaker to be filmed. This leaves the audio visual and the speaker in really horrible positions. Both would like to serve, but the content of what is shared is again the IP of the Speaker.


Permission must be gained for any type of recording. If permission is granted, it is professional courtesy to ensure the speaker receives both the professionally edited and raw footage versions of the recording, with FREE reign to use it for his or her promotional purposes. Professional etiquette suggests that co-branding of the audiovisual material, based on permissions, is well thought of.



Q. Thank you gifts for the Speaker…. is it okay to give wine or books?


Tarran’s Response:


This depends on how well you know the speaker really. Here’s some considerations:




* Are they travelling by train or plane – bottles of wine are a nightmare for packing


* Do you know their lifestyle choices – they may not actually drink wine, whether it’s lifestyle or religious beliefs


My personal preference, I’d prefer NOT to receive wine.




* Is it a book I mentioned in passing? If so, I’d be bound to love it! 🙂


With all grace, I’d rather you equipped yourself with further growth opportunities by purchasing my resources than give me something big and heavy to carry back on the plane or train! It’s another way you can also encourage your guests to “take me home with them”




Until I became a professional speaker I didn’t understand what it all involved.


For more than 20 years I’d speak at different conferences, financially underpinned by the safety net of my employers salary.


InfoPreneurs, Professional Speakers, we’re in the business of speaking. We employ staff, host numerous events and programs ourselves, in many instances. We carry insurances and risks. We’re researchers, analysts, futurists and more.


So next time you’re considering a Speaker for your event may I invite you to honour them and the expertise they bring to your event? And in the words of an anonymous speaker…..


“Don’t clap – throw money!”



So what do you think of these FAQ’s “Understanding Speaker Fees?” We’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and suggestions. Connect with us on social media!
by Tarran Deane, Corporate Cinderella. Tarran is a Professional Speaker, Author, Consultant & Executive Coach. Tarran’s passion is helping leaders lead with a clear understanding of what they stand for! If you’d like to receive a copy of Tarran’s Speaker One Sheet click on the link below or learn more visit our ABOUT TARRAN page above!


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