Speaker Fees: To Negotiate Or Not To Negotiate

Gail Davis, 20 July 2022

When it comes to negotiating speaker fees, timing is everything. In the midst of the global pandemic, all speaker fee offers were on the table. The speaking industry was turned upside-down as we navigated the newfound value of a virtual presentation. During that point in time, we saw flexibility in negotiating speaker fees. However, that was over two years ago - now it is a very different story. 

Remember in college economics when you learned about supply and demand? The same principles ring true in the speaking industry. During the pandemic, speakers had more availability doing virtual presentations. It was not uncommon for speakers to film two virtual presentations in one day - in fact, I actually know one speaker who did four in one day! The issue of travel was also non-existent which made speaking back-to-back for several days the new norm.

Fast forward to 2022, live events are back. A single domestic speaking engagement can take three days off a speaker’s calendar, and even more with international speaking engagements. Speaker’s availability dates are limited and it simply does not make sense for a speaker to negotiate fees when the demand is so high.

Travel is another important factor at play. All travel, especially business travel, has become increasingly difficult. In years past, the best practice was for speakers to schedule their travel with at least one backup flight. With current airline crew shortages and flight cancellations, speakers now need to book with two backup flight options. This added travel complexity is another time restraint added to the speaker’s calendar.

With meetings and events back in full swing, there is pent up demand for speakers. My advice for you is if you want a certain speaker for your event, book them quickly and offer to pay their full fee. Remember, there is a time and place for negotiating for discounted speaker fees - now is not that time.