In the dynamic world of public speaking, where opportunities are abundant yet fiercely competitive, writing a great speaker proposal is the key to unlocking doors to prestigious stages and captivated audiences.

Writing a great speaker proposal

Writing a great speaker proposal that not only showcases your expertise but also resonates with event organizers requires a strategic approach. We’ll delve into the art of writing a great speaker proposal that leaves a lasting impression and increases your chances of being selected as the voice that graces the next big event.

Know Your Audience and Event

The foundation of a compelling speaker proposal lies in understanding the audience and the specific event you are targeting. Tailoring your proposal to align with the needs, interests, and goals of the event organizers and their audience is crucial. Research the demographics, industry focus, and overall theme of the event to demonstrate your relevance and value. Don’t make the mistake of applying for events you’re not right for. Even if you end up getting the job, the audience won’t be a good fit for you.

    • Highlight specific aspects of your expertise that directly address the concerns or interests of the audience.
    • Showcase how your speaking topics align with the event’s overall theme and objectives.

Craft an Irresistible Introduction

The opening of your proposal sets the tone for the entire document. Capture the attention of event organizers with a compelling introduction that not only introduces you as a speaker but also establishes a connection with the event’s purpose.

      • Share a relevant and engaging anecdote that relates to your speaking expertise.
      • Express genuine enthusiasm for the event and convey how your contribution will enhance its overall impact.

Clearly Define Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

What sets you apart from other speakers? Clearly articulate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to showcase why you are the ideal choice for the event. This could include your distinct speaking style, innovative approach, or a unique perspective on industry trends.

    • Highlight any awards, recognitions, or notable achievements that underscore your expertise.
    • Emphasize how your presentation will offer a fresh and valuable perspective, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Outline Your Speaking Topics with Precision

Provide a detailed yet concise overview of the topics you can cover during the event. Often this will mean sending in more than one proposal. It’s a lot of work, but this is where they go to find speakers and topics that may be of interest to their audience.

Clearly communicate the key takeaways and benefits that attendees will gain from your presentation. Use compelling language to spark interest and curiosity.

    • Break down each speaking topic into subtopics, demonstrating the depth and breadth of your knowledge.
    • Include real-world examples or case studies to illustrate the practical relevance of your content.

Demonstrate Your Speaking Experience

Event organizers seek speakers with a proven track record of delivering engaging and impactful presentations. Showcase your speaking experience, including past events, conferences, and testimonials from satisfied attendees or organizers.

    • Provide links to videos or recordings of your previous presentations, allowing organizers to witness your speaking style and audience engagement.
    • Share any positive feedback or testimonials you have received, emphasizing the value you brought to previous events.

Interactive Elements and Audience Engagement

In today’s dynamic speaking landscape, audience engagement is paramount. Illustrate how you plan to interact with the audience during your presentation. Whether it’s through Q&A sessions, interactive polls, or group activities, showcasing your commitment to engaging the audience enhances the appeal of your proposal.

    • Describe specific interactive elements you will incorporate to create a memorable and participatory experience for attendees.
    • Highlight any audience interaction techniques that have been particularly successful in your past presentations.

Address Logistics and Practical Considerations

Anticipate and address logistical concerns that event organizers may have. Clearly outline your requirements, such as audiovisual needs, equipment specifications, and any additional support you may require during the event.

    • Provide a comprehensive list of technical requirements to ensure a seamless and stress-free event for organizers.
    • Communicate your willingness to collaborate with event staff and address any specific logistical concerns they may have.

Offer Flexibility and Customization

Demonstrate flexibility in tailoring your presentation to meet the specific needs of the event and attendees. While providing a solid outline of your proposed topics, express your openness to customization based on the organizer’s preferences or any emerging themes.

    • Showcase your adaptability and willingness to collaborate with event organizers to create a presentation that aligns seamlessly with their goals.
    • Highlight any instances where you have successfully customized presentations for specific events or industries.

Transparent and Competitive Pricing

Be transparent about your speaker fees and any associated costs. Clearly outline the value that event organizers will receive in return for your fees. While showcasing the competitive nature of your pricing, also emphasize the return on investment (ROI) that your presentation will bring to the event.

    • Break down your pricing structure, detailing what is included in your fees.
    • Highlight any additional benefits, such as post-event promotion or networking opportunities, to enhance the perceived value of your services.

Strong Call-to-Action

Conclude your proposal with a strong call-to-action, encouraging event organizers to take the next step in securing you as a speaker. Provide clear contact information and express your eagerness to discuss the proposal further or answer any questions they may have.

    • Clearly state how organizers can reach out to you to discuss the proposal in more detail.
    • Express gratitude for the opportunity and reiterate your excitement about the possibility of contributing to their event.

Writing a great speaker proposal is an art that involves a delicate balance of showcasing your expertise, understanding your audience, and addressing the unique needs of each event. By investing time and effort into creating a proposal that stands out, you increase your chances of being selected as the speaker who not only informs but inspires and captivates audiences. As you embark on this journey, remember that each proposal is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression and forge meaningful connections that extend beyond the stage.


The Cambridge Dictionary defines transformational as “a complete change in appearance or character of something or someone, so that thing or person is improved.”

Becoming a transformational speaker typically involves a combination of personal development, public speaking skills, and networking. Here are some steps you can take to pursue a career as a transformational speaker:

Define Your Message

Clarify the transformational message you want to share with your audience. Reflect on your own experiences, challenges, and growth journey. Identify the key insights and lessons that you believe can inspire and empower others to transform their lives.

Develop Expertise

Gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in the area you want to focus on as a transformation speaker. This might involve continuous learning, attending workshops, reading books, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research.

Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Effective communication is essential for any speaker. Work on improving your public speaking skills, such as articulation, body language, voice modulation, and storytelling. Join a public speaking club like Toastmasters to practice and receive feedback.

Create Compelling Content

Craft engaging and impactful presentations or talks that resonate with your target audience. Your content should be informative, inspirational, and actionable, providing practical steps for personal transformation.

Start Speaking at Small Events

Begin speaking at local events, community gatherings, or workshops to gain experience and build your speaking portfolio. This will also help you refine your message and delivery based on audience feedback.

Leverage Online Platforms

Utilize social media, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube to share your insights and reach a broader audience. Consistently create valuable content to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

Network and Collaborate

Attend conferences, seminars, and networking events to connect with other speakers, event organizers, and industry professionals. Collaborating with established speakers or thought leaders can help you expand your reach.

Seek Speaking Opportunities

Actively seek speaking opportunities at larger events, conferences, and corporate functions. Reach out to event organizers and showcase your expertise, highlighting the value you can bring to their audience.

Collect Testimonials and Refine Your Brand

As you gain experience and speak at various events, collect testimonials and feedback from attendees. Use this feedback to refine your brand and continuously improve your presentations.

Stay Committed and Persistent

Building a career as a transformation speaker takes time and persistence. Stay committed to your message, keep refining your skills, and be open to learning and adapting along the way.

So far, 2024 is getting off to a great start for the speaking industry. Every year several companies put out a yearly speaking industry forecast. If you’ve been working as a speaker for any length of time you probably already have a good gauge at how things are going. However, trends do still exist and change according to the economy and other disruptive issues.

Speaking industry forecast

Obviously Covid disrupted the meeting and event industry like nothing we’ve seen in a long time. But according to meeting and event professionals we are back on track to at least tie with pre-pandemic levels of face-to-face meetings. According to Knowland’s Hospitality Group and Business Performance Index we’re at close to 90%. During the pandemic many industry professionals left the business. But the good news is that more are staying and entering now. And their optimism for the future is high.

According to the American Express survey, 84% are optimistic about the future of the meeting and event industry. 81% expect their meetings to have a face-to-face component and 63% expect them to be totally face-to-face. Face-to-face meetings offer more opportunities for team building and collaboration.

Meeting and event spending

Meeting spending in general is expected to increase 4.2% in North America. Unfortunately, inflation is putting a damper on things and most don’t think the extra budget money is keeping up with inflation. Therefore they are looking into ways to cut costs across the board.

Maximizing sponsorship

With budgets being cut and inflation on the rise, more interactive sponsorship is being sought out. There have always been free speaking opportunities but during tough times you tend to get more of those. Speakers who have their own sponsors have tons of opportunities to make money by taking those free jobs and having their sponsors pay the bill. It increases the number of jobs out there and decreases the competition.

Diversity and sustainability

Almost a third of planners said they would try choosing diverse suppliers if they could. 70% said sustainability was very important to their organization. A majority want to incorporate it into meetings and events where they can.

Business and leisure travel

Another upcoming trend I happen to like is the blending of business and leisure travel and the opportunity to explore outside of the conference venue. This trend is expected to continue. Hopefully this will attract more attendees who might not think of traveling for business.

AI for meetings and events

AI is helping meeting and event planners better customize the event experience. It can analyze attendee demographics, track engagement, and monitor social media. This helps provide valuable insights to make better decisions. Strategies can be altered to maximize success and time-consuming tasks can be streamlined.

Experiential meetings

Another trend that will continue from last year is more experiential events. This includes interactive technology and immersive environments through sensory elements. As a speaker, how can you add more of this to what you offer?

Hybrid meetings

The majority of planners expect to have more face-to-face meetings, but they are still keeping hybrid on the table to attract more national and international attendees.

Almost half of planners expect to see more internal meetings and local meetings as being on the rise. As a speaker, I’ve seen this too. A lot of those meetings are still in offsite locations. I’ve noticed this too. Planners can also save money on speakers by booking ones who live close to the conference venue.

Speaking industry forecast 2024

These are some of the trends that meeting and event planners will be implementing as part of the speaking industry forecast for 2024. How can you help improve the experience for them as a speaker?



I’ve heard this comment from so many meeting planners recently I wanted to dig in a little deeper about it. Some meeting planners are complaining that their audiences aren’t happy with speakers who don’t really understand their industry. They’re not getting the hard skills they need to excel in their fields.

Speakers, especially keynote speakers, also need to convey soft skills, which are also important in the workplace. So, what is a speaker to do?

Speaker hard skills vs. soft skills

The comparison between speaker hard skills vs soft skills is not a matter of one being universally better than the other. Both types of skills play essential roles in personal and professional development. Their value depends on the context and the specific requirements of a situation.

Hard Skills:

  • Hard skills are specific, measurable abilities that are often learned through formal education, training programs, or on-the-job experience.
  • They are typically job-specific and are easy to quantify and test. Examples include technical skills like programming, accounting, data analysis, language proficiency, etc.
  • Hard skills are crucial for tasks that require technical expertise, precision, and specific knowledge.
  • In certain professions, having the right hard skills may be a prerequisite for getting hired or advancing in a career.
  • However, relying solely on hard skills may not be sufficient for long-term career success as industries and technologies evolve rapidly.

Soft Skills:

  • Soft skills, on the other hand, refer to a person’s interpersonal abilities, emotional intelligence, communication, adaptability, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, etc.
  • They are less tangible and harder to quantify but are vital for effective communication, collaboration, and building strong relationships with others.
  • Soft skills are essential in almost every professional setting, as they contribute to personal growth, teamwork, leadership effectiveness, and overall career advancement.
  • Individuals with strong soft skills often excel in leadership positions, as they can inspire and influence others positively.

Here is some insight from those in the meeting and event industry:

“Event and meeting planners are looking for speakers who are experienced and professional along with some type of alignment with the event’s audience. In some cases, this is that the speaker is an authority in the field, and in others, it is a speaker who can delight, entertain, motivate, or inspire an audience in any field. Choosing which direction to go is truly made on a case-by-case basis depending on the client and their overall goal of the session, but more often than not, meeting planners are always looking for speakers who will resonate, experienced in their field or not.”

Jennifer Best

VP Marketing

All American Speakers

Knowledgable expert

“As the CEO of Event Solutions, with more than 35 years of experience planning meetings and corporate events, I can tell you that choosing the right keynote speaker is a crucial task for us. We aim to find a speaker who excels in both hard skills and soft skills, creating a memorable and impactful experience for our clients and their audiences (see our featured past events here).

Hard skills are vital because we want a speaker who is knowledgeable and an expert in their field. This ensures that the content they deliver is valuable, informative, and aligns with the theme and objectives of the event.

Equally important are the soft skills of the speaker, which include their ability to engage, connect, and inspire the audience. We look for speakers who have charisma, excellent communication skills, and can capture the attention of attendees from the beginning to the end of their presentation.

Relevant experience

In addition to these skills, we also seek speakers with relevant experience that resonates with the audience. When a speaker shares stories and insights that align with the challenges and interests of the attendees, it creates a stronger connection and adds authenticity to the overall presentation.

Throughout my career in event planning, I’ve seen the positive impact that a well-chosen keynote speaker can have on an event. They have the power to elevate the experience and leave a lasting impression on everyone involved.

At Event Solutions, our team works diligently to find speakers who possess the right mix of hard and soft skills, along with relevant experience. We strive to create exceptional events that inspire, educate, and leave a positive mark on our clients and their audiences. Together, we can make your event a success with a keynote speaker who brings knowledge, charm, and inspiration to the stage.

Brad Lipshy

Event Solutions

Entertaining and inspiring

When meeting planners want a speaker who is going to be more engaging with a big personality (like a motivational speaker) then they will focus more on soft skills. They will book these speakers because they want to focus more on entertaining or inspiring their audience. But when we work with organizations who are looking to train their employees on a specific topic (leadership, customers service, DEI, etc.), or event planners who are managing a specific type of conference, then they focus more on hard skills. But at the end of the day, it’s usually a mixture of both with an 80/20 rule (hard/soft or vice versa).

Sergio Diaz

Balanced skill sets

Hard and soft skills are valuable and serve different purposes depending on what an audience is looking for. For certain speaking jobs, hard skills are the primary requirement. This is especially true for breakouts and workshops. While for others, soft skills may be equally or even more critical if the audience is looking to be entertained. The best approach is to aim for a balanced skill set that includes a mix of hard and soft skills. This will make you more adaptable and effective in various situations.

In today’s dynamic speaking market, many meeting planners look for speakers who not only possess the necessary hard skills but also exhibit strong soft skills to entertain an audience. As a speaker focus on developing a well-rounded skill set that encompasses both hard and soft skills to enhance your overall employability. And focus on those industries where you have a background that you can relate to a meeting planner’s audience. This increases your chances of connecting with them and leaving a good impression.


Founded, in 1984, TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design”. Anyone can speak at a TED event and anyone can put on one. The licenses are free but you have to apply for them. TED speakers and TEDx speakers are different in that TED speakers are invited. Anyone can be a TEDx speaker and they are everywhere.

You don’t get paid for a TEDx talk. So why would a speaker do them? Giving a TED talk can provide several benefits for individuals. Here are some of the key advantages:

Global Exposure

TED talks have a vast audience worldwide. Learn to give a great TED talk, you have the opportunity to reach millions of viewers who are interested in your ideas, experiences, or expertise. This exposure can lead to increased recognition, visibility, and influence.

Thought Leadership

TED talks are known for showcasing innovative and thought-provoking ideas. Being invited to give a TED talk positions you as a thought leader in your field. It can help establish your credibility and expertise, leading to new opportunities, collaborations, and invitations for further speaking engagements.

Networking Opportunities

TED events attract a diverse range of attendees, including influential individuals, experts, and professionals from various domains. Giving a TED talk allows you to connect and network with like-minded individuals, potentially leading to valuable connections, partnerships, and collaborations.

Personal and Professional Development

Preparing and delivering a TED talk requires careful thought, research, and practice. The process challenges you to distill complex ideas into concise, engaging presentations. Through this preparation, you can enhance your communication skills, storytelling abilities, and overall presentation effectiveness.

Impact and Inspiration

TED talks are known for their ability to inspire and motivate people. By sharing your unique perspective, experiences, or ideas, you can potentially create a positive impact on the lives of others. Your talk may spark discussions, challenge conventional thinking, or empower individuals to take action, making a meaningful difference in their lives.

Content Creation and Distribution

TED talks are typically recorded and shared online, allowing your message to be accessible beyond the live event. This content can be shared on social media platforms, websites, and other channels, extending the reach of your talk and allowing it to have a lasting impact on a global scale.

Personal Fulfillment

Many speakers find giving a TED talk to be a personally rewarding experience. It provides a platform to share their passions, stories, or ideas with a receptive audience. The process of crafting and delivering a compelling talk can be deeply fulfilling and gratifying.

How to give a great TED talk

Giving a great TED talk requires careful preparation and effective delivery. Here are some key steps and tips to help you deliver an impactful and memorable TED talk:

Choose an engaging and compelling topic

Select a topic you are passionate about and that aligns with the TED talk format of “ideas worth spreading.” Ensure your topic is unique, interesting, and relevant to the audience.

Craft a clear and concise message

Distill your main message into a concise and powerful idea. Focus on delivering a clear takeaway that your audience can remember and act upon.

Structure your talk effectively

Organize your talk into a logical structure with a clear introduction, main body, and conclusion. Use storytelling techniques to engage the audience emotionally and make your ideas more relatable.

Develop a compelling opening

Begin your talk with a strong opening that captures the audience’s attention. You can use a surprising fact, a personal anecdote, a provocative question, or a powerful quote to create intrigue and draw the audience in.

Use visuals effectively

TED talks often include visuals to enhance the audience’s understanding and engagement. Utilize slides or other visual aids sparingly, ensuring they are visually appealing, easy to comprehend, and support your main points.

Be authentic and passionate

Connect with your audience by being yourself and sharing your genuine passion for the topic. Show enthusiasm and energy throughout your talk to inspire and engage the listeners.

Use storytelling and personal anecdotes

Weave relevant stories and personal experiences into your talk to make it more relatable and memorable. Stories have the power to connect emotionally with the audience and convey complex ideas in a compelling way.

Keep it simple and accessible

Avoid jargon, complex language, or overly technical details that might alienate your audience. Strive for simplicity and clarity, making your talk accessible to a broad range of listeners.

Practice and refine your delivery

Rehearse your talk multiple times to familiarize yourself with the content, timing, and flow. Pay attention to your body language, voice modulation, and pacing. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, or seek feedback from others to improve your delivery.

Respect the time limit

TED talks are typically limited to 18 minutes or less. Ensure that you respect the allocated time and practice delivering your talk within that timeframe. Being concise and focused will help maintain the audience’s attention.

Engage the audience

Incorporate interactive elements or moments of audience participation to create a more engaging experience. This can involve asking thought-provoking questions, using rhetorical devices, or sharing relatable examples that encourage the audience to reflect and participate mentally.

End with a strong conclusion

Wrap up your talk with a powerful and memorable conclusion. Restate your main message and leave the audience with a clear call-to-action or a thought-provoking idea that encourages further reflection or action.

Remember, giving a great TED talk is not only about delivering a polished performance but also about sharing a meaningful and impactful idea that resonates with the audience. Be yourself, speak from the heart, and strive to inspire, educate, or entertain your listeners.


In the speaking industry, anything can happen at the last minute. It’s rare for a professional speaker to simply not show up. That tends to happen more when the speaker isn’t getting paid. But even a paid professional may find themselves in a position where flight delays, extreme illness, or family emergencies occur. I had to deliver a keynote the day my mom died. It was incredibly difficult, but the show must go on. It was also to a group of hospice workers so they more than understood. I was able to keep it together without crying until the end.
I’ve gotten a couple of jobs at the last minute because of my location and topic. How do you prepare and set yourself up for those opportunities to step in as a last minute speaker? Here are some speakers who have done it:

Last minute speaker

I’ve been a last minute speaker several times. I start by finding out everything I can about the organization with my standard questionnaire. I try to find several people I can interview about them beyond that. Then I plug the information into my presentation on the subject I’m speaking on, tailoring the presentation for what I’ve found.

We actively promoted me as a last minute speaker for a while, then decided that those gigs were so infrequent, it wasn’t worth the effort. But we did spread the word around and satisfied customers led to other clients.

Speaker and author, Barry Maher has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS, CNBC, and he’s frequently featured in publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the London Times, Business Week and USA Today.

His books include Filling the Glass, which has been cited as “[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books,” by Today’s Librarian along with books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The One Minute Manager.

Tik Tok follower

This has happened to me and I was actually a last-minute speaker this past Wednesday!
I was contacted at 3:15 on Tuesday to talk on zoom about the Spendthrift Trust to a real estate investment group.
I teach 1099 Income Earners and Investors how to save Federal Taxes with a Spendthrift Trust.
The zoom happened 1 pm EST and I told them on Tuesday I had a hard stop at 2 pm.
From that meeting I have had 4 appointments and sold a Trust today!
The investor has a wholesale deal closing May 31, 2023, and with the Trust they will save $15,470 in Capital Gains.
My advice to any speaker is know your talk inside out so you can step in very easily and answer questions on the fly.
I was asked to speak because one of the organizers follows me on TikTok and knew the investors needed to hear my information.
Sally Gimon
623 693 1382

Last minute tech speaker

One morning, I was enjoying my usual routine of coffee and news when my phone rang. It was an old friend, now a high-profile event organizer, and she sounded pretty flustered. The keynote speaker for a major tech conference she was organizing had suddenly fallen ill. She was in quite a predicament with the event just a day away.Despite the unexpectedness and my initial hesitation, I agreed to step in. Over the next 24 hours, I immersed myself in preparation. Having spoken on various tech-related subjects before, I was familiar with the terrain, but the short notice was a challenge. I focused on three key things: understanding the audience, reviewing the topic, and structuring my speech to be informative yet engaging.The day of the event arrived. As I stood on the stage, facing hundreds of expectant faces, I felt nervous but took a deep breath and began. Drawing on my experience and passion for the subject, I delivered a well-received talk. The initial nerves soon gave way to confidence and satisfaction, and I remember feeling immense accomplishment when I finished.

Some quick tips

As for advice to those finding themselves in a similar situation, I’d say preparation is crucial. Try to understand the audience’s needs and expectations. Prepare an outline, even if it’s rough, and structure your speech so that it has a logical flow. Remember to stay flexible as well, as you may need to adapt your speech on the spot based on audience reactions. Most importantly, bring your authenticity to the table. People connect with real stories and genuine emotions.Networking is essential to let people know you’re available for such opportunities. Engage with event organizers, join relevant professional groups, and participate in industry forums and conferences. Regularly update your professional profiles on platforms like LinkedIn and let your connections know you are open to speaking engagements.Remember, being a last-minute speaker can be nerve-wracking but also an opportunity to showcase your expertise and adaptability. Embrace the challenge, prepare well, and deliver your speech with confidence and authenticity.

Garrett Yamasaki, founder of WeLoveDoodles and a tech entrepreneur with many years of experience working for Google, Texas Instruments, and BroadcomThe Accidental Speaker

I’ve had the misfortune of being in a situation where I was asked to step in as a guest speaker at the last minute. Here is how I handled the situation:

I had to step in as a last-minute speaker during an event about utilizing online job marketplaces to earn money online. It was organized by a forum that was interested in helping students find the right direction when it comes to earning money online. Back then, earning money from the comfort of your home was a new concept. People were making money by creating CDs, books and other resources on this topic but very few of them were actually helpful. This eagerness of trying to earn money online led to a lot of people falling for scams. It also didn’t help that people were clueless about where to begin. The event was designed to educate these interested people.Although I was there as a friend of one of the organizers, I also had some decent experience as a freelance writer. My friend was aware of my activities and wanted me to meet the speaker. As the guest speaker didn’t show up, he requested me to take the stage.

Amateur speaker

Everyone was quite aware of the fact that the actual guest speaker didn’t show up. They didn’t mind seeing an amateur speaker taking the stage. Even though I am more comfortable writing stuff than speaking publicly, it was my knowledge of the topic that gave me confidence. The familiarity with the topic helped me stay calm and assemble my thoughts quickly around the key points. I wove a narrative that included both personal experiences and practical advice. My journey as a freelancer became a backdrop to the insights I was sharing which gave my speech credibility and relatability.It was the response from the audience that gave me the strength to deliver a meaningful and impactful talk. Their nods of understanding and thoughtful questions that followed my statements served as a confirmation that my message was resonating with them. This interaction didn’t just help me navigate this unexpected public speaking venture but also turned the session into a dynamic dialogue. Although it could have turned into a disaster, it was that event that sparked my newfound passion for public speaking. I loved the satisfaction of not only sharing my knowledge but also potentially making a meaningful difference in someone’s life.Every moment of that day remains etched in my memory, each second a vivid testament to a transformative experience.

Tim LeeFounder of Tims CoffeeWebsite:

Being a last minute speaker can be a great opportunity to help a meeting planner save the day. But being prepared and well-versed in your topic is important to make sure you make the most of that opportunity. Or as one meeting planner told me, “If a speaker doesn’t show up, there’s always Bingo”. Don’t lose out to Bingo!




AAE Speakers Bureau recently took a 2023 survey of around 500 meeting planners and professional speakers and found that almost a quarter of the planners have more money to spend on keynote speakers. That leaves 75% who don’t. And 53.1% of the speakers have said they have had to raise their speaking fee. The report said that the average fee for a keynote is $15,551. And the average total budget for speakers is $26,583.

Meeting planners expect added value from speakers these days, such as a meet and greet with attendees, social media promotion, a book signing, and a meet and greet with executives. This should all factor into what you charge as your speaking fee. But how do you know when you should raise your speaker fee?

When should you raise your speaker fee?

So many factors go into a speaker fee. And the truth is that there are really no rules about what yours should be. But there are some guidelines.

New speakers

If you’re just starting out as a speaker you can’t expect to get paid very much, if at all. Most speakers start out speaking for free. The only reason I never spoke for free was that I had my own sponsors. I taught other speakers how to make a living as a speaker from sponsorships. It cuts out all competition. Especially if you’re a new speaker. You can’t compete against seasoned professionals for regular speaking jobs, but with sponsorship, you have no competition. You get your own sponsors and create your own paid speaking jobs.

A good rule of thumb is that new beginning speakers can expect to charge between $500 and $2500 per speech. Again, if you have sponsors like I did when I first started out, you can charge as much as you think you can get. My very first speaking job was $2500 because I had several local sponsors and I put on my own event. If you can’t get someone to hire you as a speaker you can always become your own boss and hire yourself to speak. When the speaking industry is down this is a great option to still be able to make a living as a speaker. I used this method all through Covid to create my own virtual content for the sponsors I have in my portfolio.

Established speakers

Ok, so now you’ve been speaking for a while and you’ve been charging anywhere from $500 to $2500 and you’re pretty booked at that rate. By now you should also have at least one book on the market in your chosen topic in which you are an expert. If you’re marketing yourself you probably also have a decent following and are becoming well known in the industry. There’s no timeline about when that would happen. I’ve known very established speakers who spoke for free and low fee for a decade before they raised their rates. But it usually doesn’t take that long to get to that point. Go at your own pace. When you get to the established speaker level you will know it.

Established speakers should start to raise their speaker fee when they are too busy at the lower level fee to keep up with it. There are only so many days in the year and speaking every day of the year is not practical and will wear you out quickly. Speaking takes a lot out of you. Travel takes a lot out of you. And there is a sacrifice to be made in your personal life when you’re on the road so many days out of the year. You need the rest in between and you also need to have time to write more books and customize speeches for higher-paying clients.

Established speakers are able to charge between $2500 and $10,000 per speech. You’ve earned the right to boost your fee. Like every level, you don’t want to jump up in fees too quickly or you may find yourself struggling for work.

Influencer speakers

Once you’ve written multiple books and have tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of followers you move up to the influencer level of speakers. You probably also have a strong media presence. These speakers typically are able to charge around $10,000 – $20,000 per speech. Much more is expected of you as you move up to this level. My first big speech in this range was for 1,000 attendees for an engineering summit for Procter and Gamble. I was asked to take a lengthy internal research survey and find solutions for the issues they needed to find answers for. This was my first look at the difference between an established speaker and an influencer. You have to be prepared to up your game a lot at this point if you want to play in the influencer sandbox.

An influencer speaker is a known expert in their field. They don’t usually have an all you can eat buffet menu of speeches on 20 different topics. When a meeting planner thinks of your topic your name should be at the top of their list. This is also when you should start to differentiate yourself from other experts in your field. What’s in your background of experience that makes you different from all of your competitors? Hone in with laser focus on what makes you special, unique and different. What is your niche within your industry?

Celebrity speakers

Celebrity speakers are usually in the $20,000 range and over. If you are a celebrity in another field, such as a famous athlete or actor, you can skip the other steps. You are mostly being hired for your name draw. That doesn’t mean you haven’t paid your dues. Just the opposite. You’ve paid your dues in another industry and have earned the right to stand on a stage for big bucks.

A celebrity speaker is also a speaker who has been around for many years and paid their dues on the stage as a speaker. By this point you probably have multiple books and at least tens of thousands of followers. You are at least well-known in the speaking industry and probably by the general public as well.

Seth Dechtman of The Keynote Curators has a good guideline for working with celebrity speakers.

No rules

Again, there are no hard and fast rules for when you should raise your speaker fee. Being a professional speaker is a full-time job and there’s no contest for your own personal timeline.






As we’ve come out of the post-pandemic meeting industry it’s nice to be out and speaking in person for the past year. But what does the 2023 meeting industry forecast hold as we go forward?

Meeting industry forecast 2023

According to the 12th annual Global Meetings & Events Forecast, meeting professionals expect there to be more in person meetings. They also expect budgets to increase. But that also means they plan to do more with less, thanks to high inflation.

Planners dealing with rising costs and tight budgets are becoming more creative when it comes to finding budget-friendly options. According to Conventions South “this includes hosting fewer meetings, shortening meeting times, using less expensive venues and food options, choosing destinations close to their members, and negotiating everything.”

The cost of hotels and food is impacting the bottom line for meeting planners and they are finding ways to work around that.

Optimistic about the meeting industry

77% of respondents feel that the meeting industry will be strong in 2023. 67% think the number of in-person meetings and events will return to pre-pandemic levels in a year or two. I’m surprised that number is so low actually. From what I’ve seen most people are anxious to get out and network again. Airports have always been crowded lately as I’ve started traveling again for speaking work and for pleasure.

Face to face meetings

The good news is that most meeting and event planners expect 87% of meetings to have an in-person element. And virtual fatigue is a real thing. I, for one, am glad to hear that virtual is fading out. Part of the reason I like being a speaker is for the face to face, one on one with the audience. You can never get that same feeling from a virtual event no matter how well you do it. You can’t break bread over a virtual event or get instant feedback from an audience. Apparently, I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Meeting size

Covid is no longer a concern for most people. So meeting size is continuing to increase. Over 70% of events last year had attendance at or above 80% of 2019 levels. Two thirds of meeting professionals don’t expect the number of meetings to decrease.

Using industry speakers

One thing I’ve been seeing more of is that meeting planners are using more industry related speakers instead of general outside ones. I’ve asked if that is because of budget or if that’s what the attendees want and most of the time I hear that it’s what attendees want. There’s not much we can do as speakers to change that. Hopefully it’s a trend and will change, as things tend to do in this industry.

Overall the news is good. At least it’s way better than the past few years and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.











I’ve been working as a speaker for the past 15 years and have encountered a lot of different situations. But there is always a first time for everything. I’m posting this as a precautionary tale in case it ever happens to you in your speaker contract issues.

A few weeks ago I left for a very much needed 2 week vacation to Ireland. There must be some kind of law that says that you will book work as soon as you go out of town and stop looking for it. This has happened to me many times.

So, I’m in NY and miss my connection because of a 3 hour delay in L.A. and get stuck there for the day. That’s when I got a call about a speaking job. I’m not the most tech savvy person on an iPhone, but was able to get the meeting planner the info she asked for in a PDF version. Then I got a call from her right before getting on a plane to Ireland. I got the job!

Speaker contract issues

So, I relaxed and settled in for my 2 week vacation thinking all was good. Then she asked me to send her my contract, which I did asap. And by the end of the week I had signed the contract and thought I would be doing the job. She was supposed to send me the contract back with a signature and told me to go ahead and book my travel and hotel.

I got back and spent hours rebooking another speaking job to be able to make this one, and booking the flight and hotel like she asked me to do. I sent her an email to tell her that my flight and hotel was booked. That’s when she sent me an email to tell me that they had decided to go in a different direction for the event. This is after I rearranged another job and paid for a non-refundable hotel and another plane ticket.

I sent an email and called to find out what the problem was, but didn’t hear back from her. After leaving a voicemail she finally sent me a short message that they had never signed a contract. Basically I relied on her good word and the fact that she asked me in an email to book the travel and she asked me to send her a contract. I found out that she had done the same thing to other speakers and speaker bureaus.

My word of caution is to never, ever book anything until you have a signed contract AND a deposit. Even with a signed contract you still might have to fight it, but if you get a deposit at least you won’t be out the money.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you resolve it?



A Speaker Sponsor member recently asked why we send out opportunities for free speaking jobs. There are several reasons for that:

Should you speak for free?

You’re a beginner

When you’re just starting out as a speaker you may want to speak for free to get the practice. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it the same amount of time and professionalism you would give a paid job. But if you’re brand new you simply won’t have the same polish that speakers have who have been doing it for years have. Like a comedian who has to work out the bugs in a routine. It takes time to figure out what gets a laugh and what makes the audience cringe. Sometimes you stumble on something that gets a laugh that you didn’t expect. Each time you get in front of a new audience you learn something that you can add to your speech.

Speaking isn’t something you can learn by reading a book. You have to learn through experience. Students pay huge tuition fees to go to college. Think of this as your college education. Speak anywhere and everywhere you can. Try new things. Experiment. Be bold. When you’re speaking for free you can do more of that. Get in front of as many people as possible and as many different audiences as possible. Get feedback and keep improving.

A free speaking job can turn into a paid speaking job

Recently I’ve booked 2 paid speaking jobs because I filled out the online forms for free speaking jobs. Speaker Sponsor sends out free speaking leads, along with paid ones. It may seem like a waste of time when you want to get paid. But you never know when someone will be looking for speakers for a different conference. Or they secretly have the budget for speaker topics they really, really need. This is how I ended up with 2 paid speaking jobs.

Also, meeting planners will keep things on file for years. And when they need your topic they will search through them. I’ve booked jobs for things I filled out as long as 8 years ago. It was a free speaking job that I didn’t get at the time. I ended up getting my full speaking fee. So, I would say that it was definitely worth my time to fill out the free form.

If you have a book or other things to sell, speaking for free can often be a good deal. If you do speak for free ask for as many things in return as possible. Opportunity to sell books, etc. A free booth at their trade show. A list of attendees. All expenses paid. Mentions in their newsletter and social media. Opportunity to sell your coaching and consultant services. Your own sponsor, who they will help you promote.

You have your own sponsors 

I’ve taken several free jobs as a speaker, especially in the beginning. But I have never, ever spoken for free. I’ve always had a sponsor who paid me to get them in front of their target audience. I learned about sponsorship completely by accident. I was living in NYC and working on a TV pilot. It was a variety show with writers from Saturday Night Live, Broadway dancers, and celebrity guest stars. In addition to raising half of the money for the show, I was also one of the reporters. Behind the scenes my boss asked me one day to go out and get sponsors. I had no idea how to do it, but I put together a proposal and went door to door looking for sponsors for the show. This was my trial by fire into the world of sponsorship.

Once I learned out to do it I started using sponsorship to produce plays. When I became a speaker I realized about half of all speaking jobs are free ones. So I saw a huge opportunity to fill those free jobs with sponsorship to get paid. I practice what I preach and am constantly finding new ways to supplement speaking with sponsorship. Having a portfolio of sponsors helped me earn a living as a speaker during the shutdowns of Covid when events were being cancelled. Sponsorship means never having to hold your hand out for a paid speaking job. You have a much better chance of getting a free speaking job and getting paid for it.

Many Speaker Sponsor members have their own sponsors and welcome the chance to find any speaking opportunities. Paid or free speaking. They know they can monetize them and get paid for the free speaking jobs.

You need to be seen

The very best way to get booked as a paid speaker is for someone to see you speak live. I have a saying. “If you want to be in the right place at the right time you have to be everywhere all the time”. That means you have to speak every single chance you get. If you only wait for paid speaking jobs you miss out on opportunities to get in front of people who can hire you. Have a portfolio of sponsors and things to sell and you have a guarantee of being paid.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten full fee speaking jobs because someone saw me speak live at an event. And I’ve also lost jobs because I was in the running with someone who was seen live by a decision maker. Speakers who are constantly working will get more work. And be seen by more people who can hire them. If you’re booked solid all year long with paid speaking work, this probably doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re new or not solidly booked, think about all the ways you can get in front of more decision makers. Even if you speak for free.

If you want more speaking jobs you need to do everything you can. This includes adding free speaking to your strategy. But always make sure you monetize everything to get the most out of those opportunities.