How Much to Charge as a Public Speaker

Written by the Mic Drop Workshop Team

One of the most common questions we get from Mic Drop Workshop students about starting a speaking career is how much to charge for a speaking gig. No matter what stage of your speaker journey you’re in, it can feel a little tricky to figure out what to charge as a public speaker. The short answer? It depends! 

Some of the factors that determine your rate as a keynote speaker are your desired audience, your experience level, any required travel or expenses. Discovering your ideal audience is a crucial first step in determining what to charge. 

High School and College Speaker ($1,500k-$5k)

Did you know that Mic Drop Workshop founder Jess Ekstrom landed her first paid gig for $2,200 at Marshall University? Schools are a great way to get your feet wet as a paid public speaker.

Schools on both the high school and college levels are looking for programming all the time. Most have specific programming budgets that they have to spend each semester. If you were heavily involved in organizations like a fraternity or sorority, sports teams, or student government, you’ll definitely have a leg up when pitching to schools. 

The best time for school-focused speakers to land gigs is at the beginning of the year around August and September for orientation. In the spring around March and April, leadership programs host events that need speakers.

If you’re just getting started, quote around $2,500. If you’ve already had some gigs, quote closer to $4-5k.

Association Speaker ($5k-$8k)

Want to know a secret? There’s an association for just about EVERYTHING. Associations are built to bring people together in the same industry to educate and motivate them. There are regional associations, statewide associations and national associations. Some even have monthly meetings with speakers, which means speaker opportunities galore. 

It’s important to note that these associations aren’t always looking for people within their industry to speak. They usually have a few keynote spots for motivational speakers and specifically want someone outside of their industry. 

One of the best things about associations? They all talk to each other.

For example, say you speak at the Association of Miami Realtors and you crush it (which you will). The head of the Miami Association will likely tell the Tampa Association. Or maybe even the state of Florida Association.

These associations are tight-knit communities, so word travels fast if and when you do a good job. Speaking at associations was how Mic Drop founder Jess went from a $2,200 speaker to consistently booking around $7k with 35 gigs a year. Now, she’s a $15-20k speaker. 

Pro Tip: When you speak at an association, take the testimonial they give you (always ask for a testimonial) and send it to all the other associations in that industry. 

Bookmark this Directory of Associations to find professional associations near you to start pitching to.

Corporate and Women’s Event Speaker ($8k+)

If your ideal speaking audience falls under this category, you can expect to charge at least $8,000 for gigs like corporate events, leadership events, and women’s events. 

Corporate events are constantly looking for motivational speakers to inspire their attendees. Plus, there are tons of companies that host their own leadership conferences for their employees that need diverse speakers. 

Leadership events present even more high-paying opportunities for speakers. These are privately-run independent events that aren’t associated with any company. Sometimes there are different themes like entrepreneurship, faith, sales, business, etc. (ex. Leadercast Live)

Women’s events are the ultimate jackpot for women speakers. There are so many women’s events popping up within companies as well as outside of them. Many companies have dedicated funding towards women’s programs that bring in speakers all the time. In addition, there are independent events built for women in these industries…

Real Estate

The list goes on and on! 

Corporate, leadership, and women’s events all have the budget to acquire talent. They’re not looking for speakers $5k and below. They want speakers charging $8k+ because they want people who will hit it out of the park with the website, video and testimonials to back it up.

Pro Tip: Add a client list of past speaking engagements on your website to boost your credibility when pitching for these events. See an example of a client list on Jess’s website.

So, there you have it – a starting point for knowing how much to charge as a public speaker. Deciding your ideal audience is half the battle. Need some guidance on how to get your foot in the door for your dream gig? Mic Drop Workshop has everything you need to kickstart your speaking career and land $10K gigs just like Speaker Sister Karen L.

If you’ve got a story to tell, you’re ready!

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