6 Tips for Getting the Best Speaker Possible at the Best Price

best even speaker price

Close your eyes and imagine you are in charge of your organization’s annual meeting. It’s going to be a big affair. You’ve decided to get an outside speaker or two, and you want to make sure you get the right speakers for your meeting, at the right price.

From experience, you know that some speakers will lower their price at the drop of a hat—others, not so much. Are there perks you can offer to attract a top-notch speaker for a little less than he or she currently receives? Yes, but only if you find ways to make it mutually beneficial. Here are some things to consider.

1. Multiple Dates, Consecutive Days, Lower Fees

Engaging a speaker for multiple dates—perhaps in June, August and October—might yield savings because it simplifies the business side and builds a relationship. Similarly, if you need a speaker on two or more consecutive days, you may find that many speakers will drop their fee by, say, 10 percent for each consecutive day they are booked. This has happened to me in the case of large conventions, where I might be presenting a keynote on one day and conducting a breakout or general session on another. So, another win-win.

2. Share a Speaker

Consider what group in your local area could be included as part of your meeting, help foot the bill and help make the entire affair more successful? You could share the cost of a speaker whose fee is above the range either group could afford alone. I was once requested by the Houston Chamber of Commerce to speak to their members. In an effort to keep their costs down yet ensure that they would have a successful meeting, they invited the nearby Galleria Chamber of Commerce to co-host the event. The day went well, and members of both chambers were served. Yet the costs were half of what each chamber would have incurred otherwise.

3. Roll Those Cameras

Professional speakers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to be
videotaped. This affords the speaker the opportunity to produce a saleable product, either in coordination with you or separately. Second, a speaker may be able to extract small segments that highlight his or her capabilities, or accent audience responsiveness. Such segments can become part of a video brochure or demonstration tape. Third, many speakers simply desire the opportunity to critique themselves.

4. Back-of-the-Room Retail

At times, it makes sense to allow the speaker to pitch products from the platform. One of those times is when you can get the speaker at a negotiated rate. Many speakers have DVDs, books, software, and all manner of support and learning materials in their trunk, looking for a good home. Particularly when the audience is large, a speaker who receives a discounted or modest speaking fee may well earn double, triple or more if he or she is allowed to briefly present his or her products to your audience. The product presentation can be done in an entirely tasteful manner. Many meeting professionals simply prefer that the speaker make fliers available at the back of the room or put one on or under each chair.

5. Bleasure Payments

If your organization will be meeting at a fabulous resort location, you may be able to entice a speaker to speak for less in exchange for several extra days at the location. I know speakers who have taken their spouses—and in some cases, children—and spent an extra three or four days, while reducing their fee. The discount more than offsets the added travel and room expense you might incur.

6. Nonprofit Group Discount

Many speakers will offer a reduced fee a set number of times each year when speaking to charitable organizations. Some speakers go as far as offering pro-bono services to such. Thomas Winninger, who speaks many times annually, suggests that speakers go ahead and offer a presentation when they’re approached by a group that can’t possibly meet their fee, but can pay something. He suggests that the speaker ask the hosting organization to donate to a charity of the speaker’s choice the sum they have earmarked for a speaker. In this way, three parties benefit: the speaker, hosting organization and charity.


Jeff Davidson is “The Work-Life Balance Expert®” and the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues. He works with organizations that want to enhance their productivity by improving the work-life balance of their people. Jeff is the author of 65 books, including Breathing Space, Dial it Down, Live it Up, Simpler Living, 60 Second Innovator and 60 Second Organizer.