Keynote Speakers Payment Terms

How and What to Pay Your Keynote Speaker

When you’re ready to look for a keynote speaker, there’s a lot to know in order to make the process go smoothly. You want to have a clear understanding of the costs and payment terms that are typical so you can approach your keynote speaker with knowledge and confidence.

Speaking Fees

Speaker’s fees range widely. Some beginning speakers are willing to speak for free for exposure to new clients. Average speakers may earn as little as $250-$1000. Geographical location also accounts for some differences in keynote speakers’ rates, as those in areas with a higher cost of living might charge more than others.

Speakers experienced in their professions often command up to $4000 an engagement with highly qualified keynote speakers earning $10,000-$15,000 per speech. Your top end specialty presenters may command between $15,000 and $25,000.

And finally stars—marquee names—like famous athletes, Bill Gates, or ex-presidents may receive from $25,000 to $300,000 to present.

Hiring a leading keynote speaker will impress your employees and show you take their growth seriously, while giving them surefire success strategies.

These fees are typically for a 45-90 minute presentation. But you may want your speaker to do more. Make sure you discuss these extras with your presenter so he or she can factor them into the price they quote.

  • Autographs
  • Mingling with attendees
  • Question and answer periods
  • VIP reception
  • Videoing or recording their speech
  • Break-out sessions


In addition to the speaker’s fees, you will be expected to cover the speaker’s expenses. They can include:

  • Air fare
  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Ground transportation

Be sure to ask your speaker what costs he or she expects to be reimbursed for. Are there additional expenses they expect to incur and will want to be reimbursement?

Typically speakers make their travel arrangements and send you the itinerary several weeks before the event. Most often, the payment terms have the speakers billing their expenses after the event.

To make sure you have no surprises, you’ll need to clarify the type of transportation your keynote speaker will use—such as business or first class.


Most speakers have their own contract. Do ask about modifications if you cannot agree to all their terms. Many speakers are flexible and try to accommodate your needs as well.

Of course speakers don’t like surprises either. Make sure you are clear with them on exactly what you expect as far as time and presentation subject. It may take an extra call to insure they understand your audience and goals.

Both your group and the speaker benefit when the speaker has clear insight into exactly what you need to have presented to your audience. Put it in writing. Put it into the contract.

Payment Terms

Most contracts call for an initial, non-refundable deposit when the contract is signed. This locks in the date for the presenter. If for any reason, the contract is canceled, the speaker keeps that deposit.

If the event is canceled within 60 days of the speaking engagement, the entire speaking fee (including travel expenses) may be due the speaker.

Plan to pay the final payment of the fee at or before the actual event. However, the fees for travel, lodging, and other expenses are typically billed after the event.

When you know your keynote speaker’s payment terms you can handle hiring a professional presenter much easier. You know what you must discuss with them and how the contract should be arranged.

Then you’ll end up with a speaker that will WOW your audience, teach them powerful concepts and strengthen their ability to reach their goals. Remember, your keynote speaker is an investment, and if you make the right one, it will pay off for a long time to come.

Joel Garfinkle has spoken all over the United States and Canada. He tailors his leadership talks to your specific audience. When you need a professional keynote speaker, contact Joel.

Copyright © 2024 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S. He is a Master Certified Coach with 25 years of executive coaching, corporate training, and speaking experience. He is the author of 11 books, including Executive Presence: Step Into Your Power, Convey Confidence and Lead With Conviction. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Amazon, Deloitte, Eli Lilly, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Oracle, and Microsoft. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter which is delivered to over 10,000 people. You can view his video library of over 200+ easily actionable 2-minute inspirational video clips by subscribing to his YouTube Channel.

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