How much should you charge to speak?

What is your professional speaking fee? How much should you charge to speak? How much can you actually charge? Should you speak for free? These are all versions of the same incredibly popular question I see this almost daily and am asked personally at least once a week. Why? Because I’ve been speaking professionally for nearly ten years, and lots of other doctors want to know how I transitioned from mostly academic talks for free or nominal honoraria (something around $500-$2000 plus travel) to charging $6000 (my first ‘real’ gig) to where I am today (around $20,000).

Recently I received the following question: “I got a call from a company to be a speaker, at an employee wellness event. Should I do this for free? Should I charge? And if I do, how much should I charge?” The answer may surprise you – it’s probably a lot higher than you think!

The answer to “how much should I charge to speak?” is a very personal question, and like everything in life – especially your professional life – it depends on your goals. But wait, you say, shouldn’t your fee depend upon your experience? Yes, in part.

How much does experience matter when setting your speaker fee?

Certainly you will be more successful with a higher speaker fee when you have more experience as a professional speaker. It helps to have experience, testimonials, and membership in a professional speaker association that requires a certain amount of experience and demonstrated income from speaking (such as the National Speakers Association – I’m a member). Lots of people ask if you need to be represented by an agent or speaker bureau – I personally don’t think that matters unless you’re a celebrity!

So, let’s dive into what does matter when you decide how to set your speaker fee. This video is going to give you my six-question framework to figure out how much you should charge when you get an invitation to speak.

Need help deciding how much to charge to speak? Watch this video for my six-step framework:

There are plenty of other questions about speaking that are worthy of a deeper dive if you really want to understand the business of professional public speaking so you can land paid speaking engagements. If you understand how the business works, you may find speaking to be not only fun and meaningful, but also very lucrative.

  • How to negotiate your fee (literally – how to start the conversation)
  • How to structure your contract (yes, you need one!)
  • How to adjust your fee with integrity (this means giving a discount without sacrificing the legitimacy of your professional fee)
  • Physician specific concerns about whether your organization has a claim to your fee, or prohibits you from charging money to speak
  • Understanding industry norms – which types of opportunities pay the best (and which might not pay you today, but will pay off in the long run)
  • The difference in delivery expectations when you’re charging a significant fee, and how to be sure you meet the standard on stage

We cover all of these and more in The Speaking Prescription course (shout out to all my students who have learned how to get paid!).

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