This is a question that we have been advising on since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is not only companies and clients asking this question. Speakers are also asking the question as we have all entered into a new world of virtual service delivery. What we have is inexperience and no established cost model in place for virtual speaking. This part of the speaking circuit remains ambiguous in terms of pricing.
After six months of the pandemic and speaker requests both from globally recognized companies and virtual conference organisers, we do observe that unacceptably low offers are being put across for experienced speakers. ‘Don’t pay for a Mini and expect a Rolls Royce!’
In this article, we provide helpful advice on guest speakers and their fees for virtual keynote delivery.
Speakers have traditionally factored in travel time to and from conferences.
Consider if a conference location is remote or without nearby airports and regular flights. Unless the speaker is local to the venue their commitment or time away can be two or even three days of travel. This means lost time and for highly in-demand speakers, other bookings can’t be accepted due to travel time.
Just because the talk is online, which means no travel time is needed by the speaker doesn’t always mean the speaker will charge less for their keynote delivery.
Another point of view is that travel time is irrelevant to the speaker’s fee. The speaker is paid to deliver a keynote on a topic in a location. How they get to the venue and however long it takes is unrelated to the guest speaking fee.
Some of our speakers have queried reducing fees for virtual or even pre-recorded inspirational speaking. The valid point that they made is that: ‘ film stars and musicians don’t discount their fees when recording movies or music videos, so why should a speaker.’ Speakers are also performers after all!
The speaker still has to invest the same time and energy in preparing their keynote content and presentation. A briefing call and now added is a check on the speaker’s home audiovisual set-up are mandatory requirements in the virtual setup.
Some speakers report that they are still collecting 100% of their normal speaking fees for virtual talks. This is likely to occur when the speaker has been previously booked by the company with success. Speakers are reminded that agents work in a more competitive landscape than speakers themselves. Agents make recommendations and work to the available budgets. Agents have a wide array of speakers to choose from which is to the client’s advantage.
We advocate finding a balance for virtual speaking costs that sits well with everyone. In this case, it is the clients booking them and the speakers themselves.
A good agent provides strong advice and the ability to generate the best value in selection of the speaker to meet the clients requirement.
Virtual speaking services should be less expensive. But by how much is based upon an individual basis and the speaker’s status.
We don’t think any speaker should be devaluing their professional speaking fee by more than 25 to 50 percent of their in-person on stage fee. But we do feel that in most cases clients agree that a 25 to 50 percent reduction in standard speaking fees is acceptable. This won’t apply to all speakers as there will be those at the top who clients will need to pay their full speaking fees to secure their services.
We have a responsibility to professional speakers to help not have speakers income reduced further. We have already seen great loss with the temporary shut down of conferences worldwide.
“Our belief is that speakers can and will play a very important role in bringing positivity and learning to companies during and post Coronavirus.”
There should be a higher volume market for virtual keynote delivery as companies familiarise themselves with video conferencing solutions. This is positive for those speakers who’ve made the leap successfully to speaking online.
We are here to help advise, recommend, and negotiate with leading conference speakers to bring their talks online.
If there is anything we can do for your group or organization to set up an event online please let us know.