How Speaker Fees Are Like Handbag Shopping

Gail Davis, 23 June 2022

Recently a friend of mine was seeking my advice on how to determine the correct budget for a speaker they were interested in having for their event. I find that this is a common question amongst event planners in the planning process. I like to answer this question with my “handbag analogy” which I’d love to share with you today.

What is the purpose of a handbag? More often than not it serves to carry the essentials - keys, wallet, sunglasses, lipstick, etc. You can easily go to Target and find a wide selection of handbags that will get the job done at an affordable price. These are the equivalent to speakers who offer quality content but aren’t a household name.

However, if you want a designer handbag, it’ll come at a steeper price. You won’t find a Prada handbag at Target and if the one you want is a unique pattern or a part of a specific collection, your options might be limited. Depending on how big the designer name is, you might also be faced with limited distribution. If your turnaround time for purchasing your dream bag is a smaller window, you might need to be willing to pay more for expedited shipping. These name-brands represent speakers of celebrity status. 

Long story short, speaker fees can range significantly based on many factors including notoriety, event location, and audience size. Though a household name is more likely to fill an arena, there is a wide variety of incredible speakers who offer amazing content at lower fees. If you want a marquee name, you’re going to pay (by comparison) the “designer handbag” price for them to speak at your event.