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Why Are Keynote Speakers So Expensive (Or Are They?)

Why Are Keynote Speakers So Expensive (Or Are They?)

Keynote speakers may seem like a big-ticket item in your event budget, but the lasting impact they can have on your attendees? The return on investment they offer? Priceless. Well, almost.

Of course, we know there is a cost to hiring a speaker for your event, and it can sometimes feel like a hefty one. So why are keynote speakers so expensive? We like to start this conversation by asking two questions — what are your attendees most likely to remember about your event? And what is likely to influence their decision to attend your next event? Or perhaps we should say, who.

As delicious as your catering is or as beautiful as your venue is, these other big-ticket budget items are unlikely to have the same impact on an attendee’s event experience as a keynote speaker will. We recently sat down with our seasoned team to dig into speaker fees, exploring why they are “so high” and why they are worth the investment.

With decades of experience between them serving and working within the events industry, our teams’ invaluable advice will help you maximize your investment and create unforgettable — and unmissable — events.

Why Do Keynote Speakers Cost So Much?

“I’m fond of saying, ‘you’re not paying for the hour, you’re paying for the years’,” Speakers Spotlight’s Executive Vice-President Kelly MacDonald said. Kelly has been working in the speaking industry for 30 years.

A speaker’s fee, she continued, is representative of the years behind their expertise, their body of knowledge, their journey to becoming a thought leader and someone people are excited to see on stage.

As Picasso is often credited for saying, that 30-second drawing took 40 years to master. Hear more from the team in the video below:

Are Professional Keynote Speakers Worth the Investment?

Someone once told me that the most expensive speaker you can book is the one with a low fee that’s terrible, Martin Perelmuter, Speakers Spotlight’s Co-Founder and President, said. This is why hiring a professional keynote speaker is worth the investment.

The best conference speakers are practiced in the art of delivering impactful speeches with years of first-hand experience, expertise, and anecdotes to inform and elevate their presentations each time they take the stage.

If you take every single person in your audience and add up what their hourly time is worth, Martin continued, it’s going to be a lot more than a speaker fee. And if you waste your audience’s time, that’s going to be an opportunity cost that far outweighs the cost of booking a good, quality keynote speaker.

So, while the cost of a speaker may be 10% of your budget, if you hire the right speaker for your audience, it’s guaranteed they will deliver more than 10% of the impact of that event.

Hear more from Martin in the video below:

How Can a Speakers Bureau Maximize Your Speaker Budget?

Hiring a keynote speaker is as much an investment in the success of your event as it is an investment in risk management. That’s where a speakers bureau comes in.

Speakers Spotlight vets every speaker added to our roster. By representing the best of the best, we can help maximize the value of our client’s budget and ensure they hire the right speaker for their audience.

We’ve seen our speakers in action, Speakers Spotlight’s Senior Vice President Bryce Moloney said. “We know who they work well with… If we can have a dialogue with you about what you’re trying to achieve, the experience you want, then we can guide you. We won’t make the choice for you, but we can recommend the people we think are the very best chance to achieve what you’re looking for” within your budget.

Hear more from Bryce in the video below:

Contact Us to Learn More

Speakers Spotlight has been serving the speaking and events industry since 1995 and proudly represents some of the world’s most renowned keynote speakers and leading industry experts. Contact us to learn more and to book a keynote speaker for your next event.

This article has been published as part of our content series, Behind the Spotlight, which explores the inner workings of the speaking industry. Every month, our incredible team — one of the most experienced in the industry — will share tips and insights to help meeting and event planners maximize the impact of their events through the power of a great speech.

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