I still remember the first time I was asked to speak outside of my own organization. I was invited to present a keynote presentation to 300 people in a large auditorium setting. As a young presenter, I was excited about the opportunity and gladly accepted the invitation. What I would learn with that event was that my inexperience would lead to my presentation skills being taken advantage of. You see, I made a poor assumption that day. I assumed that I would be given a standard speaking fee without a full negotiation ahead of time.

The day of the presentation came and went, and I was praised for how well the event had gone; in fact, everyone said they would be excited to have me back again. While I was honored to receive such high regards, I was disappointed when no check was presented. A week later, I received a thank you card with a gift card to a chain restaurant enclosed. To say I was not thrilled was an understatement.

That moment was a turning point in my presentation career. From that day on, I knew it was vital to set a standard speaking fee and negotiate as necessary.

Hopefully you have not experienced a similar situation, but if you have, here are some tips on what to consider when setting your speaking fee and negotiating with each presentation.

How much preparation will the presentation require?

Many presenters only consider the time spent delivering the presentation when setting a fee. What this leads to is a lowball number that does not account for the hours it will take you to prepare for the presentation. The more familiar you are with the content, the less preparation it will take; however, the less familiar you are will require more time. That is why we recommend that you charge for an average of your preparation time when setting a standard fee. Set an hourly rate and then decide on a set number of hours based on the average amount of time spent.

How much is spent in travel?

When negotiating a speaking fee, it is important to be clear about the travel and expense reimbursement. As a presenter, you can either choose to set a flat-rate fee where you are responsible for all travel and expenses that you have already built in to the presentation cost. If you are just starting out, this is a great option as many organizers love the idea of not dealing with expenses. However, it can end up being costly depending on travel distance and cost of accommodations. At Ethos3, we recommend charging the cost of travel and expense to the organizer after the event has taken place. This does require you to have the up-front capital to cover the costs, but it ensures you don’t get stuck with an expensive flight or unexpected hotel cost.

What is the size of the audience?

As a thought leader, you are delivering your IP to a group of people. In essence, you are sharing your value to each person in the audience. That is why your speaking fee should adjust based on the size of the audience. As the audience grows, so should your speaking fee. This doesn’t have to be a specific per-person cost, but we recommend setting a tiered system that has benchmark points which lead to increase in cost. After all, you’re not just selling your time – you’re selling your knowledge, and each individual audience member will benefit from it.

Many presenters think that just being asked to speak is worth the effort. While it is an honor, it is important that you don’t sell yourself short. You have a skill and knowledge set that is worth financial compensation. So take the time, and set a standard fee for your time and knowledge – it will make negotiations that much easier.

At Ethos3, we love to help presenters develop so that they can get more paid speaking opportunities. Contact us today to find out how you can work one-on-one with our professional presentation coaches.

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