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Hot Topics, Top Fees: 2023 Speaker Study

The newest Speaking Industry Benchmark Report is out with details on this year’s hot topics, what speakers are charging (and what planners are paying), and more.

Demand is hot for speakers who address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. In fact, event professionals are just as eager to find DEI-focused speakers as those who address time-honored topics around leadership and motivation.

According to the 2023 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, being released by AAE Speakers Bureau on April 3, the topics event strategists are prioritizing the most in 2023 are:

• Diversity, equity, and inclusion (56 percent)
• Leadership and motivation (56 percent)
• Mental health and mindset (44 percent)
• Future of work (30 percent)
• Corporate culture (28 percent)
• Technology (21 percent)

Jennifer Best, vice president of marketing at AAE Speakers Bureau, shared the results of the survey in advance of their official release on Global Meetings Industry Day, April 30, during a MeetingsNet track session at the Catersource & The Special Event show in Orlando.

Commenting on the top interests, Best said themes of race, gender, disabilities, neurodiversity, and embracing inclusivity all fall under DEI, and are “very, very popular this year.” Also, the strong interest in mental-health topics wasn’t a surprise “as we come out of a pandemic and there are a lot of job layoffs, especially in the tech sector.” Those presentations can focus on a range of topics, from anxiety and depression to addiction and suicide prevention.

The trends report is based on responses from 368 event professionals—largely corporate (37 percent) and university (31 percent) planners—as well as 145 speakers. It provides some valuable data and insights into speaker fees and how host organizations budget for speakers:

• The average speaker fee is $15,551 for in-person events.

• For speakers with more than 10 years of experience, the average fee is $16,659.

• For virtual events, 80 percent of speakers commanded a fee of less than $10,000.

• A vast majority of speakers expect the organizer to cover the cost of their hotel, air travel, and ground transfers. However, only 12 percent include those costs in their speaking fee.

• More than half of speakers (53 percent) say their fees are increasing in 2023.

• For event organizers, the average event budget for hiring a keynote speaker is $26,582.88. However, 44 percent of respondents said their average budget is less than $10,000. Only 10 percent said their budget is more than $50,000.

• The speaker add-ons that are most requested by event organizers are meet-and-greet experiences (66 percent), social-media promotion (42 percent), and book signing (38 percent).

The report, available for download from AAE Speakers Bureau, also addresses booking lead times, challenges in the speaker-planner relationship, what drives a speaker to take a booking, and more.

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