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In 2023, Speaker Fees Rising More Than Event Budgets

A recent survey on speakers’ asking prices, lead times, added-value activities, and other elements finds common ground—but also some disconnect—between speakers and the planners seeking to hire them.

In a recent survey of nearly 500 professional speakers and meeting planners by AAE Speakers Bureau, 24.5 percent of planners have more money than last year to secure keynote speakers for their upcoming events. Unfortunately, 53.1 percent of the speakers who responded to the survey said they are charging higher fees this year.

Also noted in AAE’s 2023 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report: For in-person events, the average fee for a keynote speaker is $15,551. However, the majority of speakers (52.4 percent) charge fees of less than $10,000; 29 percent charge fees between $10,000 and $20,000; 8.3 percent charge fees between $20,000 and $30,000; and 10.3 percent have fees greater than $30,000. The report emphasizes, though, that speakers’ travel and accommodation expenses are generally not included in these fees.

For event organizers, the average budget for speakers at a given meeting was $26,583. But 44 percent said their average budget for hiring speakers was less than $10,000, while only 9.5 percent said their budget was more than $50,000.

When to Book Speakers
As for lead times, 42 percent of planners begin their search for keynote speakers more than six months ahead of an event. Another 28 percent begin the search four and six months out, and 22 percent do so between two and four months out.

In stark contrast, 27 percent of speakers would most prefer booking just one to two months out, while 43.5 percent would prefer booking two to four months out. Only 23.5 percent prefer to book four to six months out—and less than six percent want to be booked more than six months out from an event.

What Planners Expect from Speakers
For in-person or hybrid events, 45 percent of responding planners said that the right length of time for a speaker’s presentation is 45 to 60 minutes. Another 36 percent said that 30 to 45 minutes was the right length for a keynoter. Just 2.5 percent of planners said more than 60 minutes was the right amount of time.

For associations in particular, one important finding from the report is which activities keynote speakers will engage in to provide additional value to the host group. Fully two-thirds of organizers request that speakers participate in a meet-and-greet session with attendees, while 42 percent ask the speaker for social-media promotions ahead of the event, such as writing a blog post. Nearly 38 percent of planners request a book signing after a speaking engagement, and 35.6 percent ask for pre-event publicity beyond social media. Lastly, 31.7 percent of organizers want speakers to meet in person with executives from their organizations or sponsoring organizations.

Other topics covered in the survey include the biggest challenges planners and speakers have when working with each other; approaching controversial speaking topics; measuring the success of a speaker’s session; and more. Planners can get a copy of the AAE Speakers Bureau’s report by clicking here.

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