Speaker fees for virtual events can vary wildly depending on the type of speaker you bring on board. There is indeed a notable difference between the speaker fee structure for in-person events and virtual events. Here is a look at this difference, the actual fees you should expect to pay virtual keynote speakers, and the factors that impact these fees.
Live Event Fees vs. Virtual Event Fees
Virtual events require somewhat of a lesser effort on the part of a keynote speaker. After all, a speaker does not have to travel to the location of the venue. Instead, he or she can deliver a keynote speech from the comfort of their home.
This is the primary reason why there is some disparity between the speaker fees for live events and that for virtual events. In general, virtual speakers charge 50% to 70% of an in-person fee. So if you typically pay $10,000 to a speaker for an in-person event, expect to be charged around $5,000 to $7,000 when tapping them for a virtual keynote speech.
Virtual Keynote Speaker Fee Structure
Speaker Fees for New Experts
($500 – $2,000)
New experts who are only starting in a field and have yet to establish a name for themselves typically charge the smallest fees. Such experts are perfect for virtual events that are small, have a limited audience, and are on a budget. A virtual event is an opportunity for such a speaker to gain exposure, expand their network, and seek new opportunities.
If you hire a speaker from this category for a keynote speech at a virtual event, you may pay an amount between $500 and $2,000.
Experienced Keynote Expert Fees
($5,000 – $10,000)
This category includes keynote speakers who have many years of experience in the industry. These speakers have already carved a place for themselves and can comfortably speak at a variety of events and occasions. They have already delivered keynote speeches at other events of a similar nature or related to the same industry.
You will have to pay more to retain a speaker from this category for your event. Typically, the budget range for hiring an experienced keynote speaker is $5,000 to $10,000.
Accomplished and Published Thought Leaders
($10,000 – $40,000)
If you want to establish thought leadership for your company or business, you will have to include keynote speakers that are at the frontier of your industry. These may include cutting-edge researchers, scientists, corporate leaders, or anyone who is seen as a veritable authority in a specific and relevant area.
In contrast to other keynote speakers, thought leaders charge more for delivering keynote speeches. That being said, they still attract more interest as every sentence uttered by such an accomplished speaker is valuable to the attendees.
Many speakers in this category already have a sizable following, both online and offline. This gives you an additional advantage of gaining exposure for your event. Thought leaders have also often published books, and you may be able to seek joint publishing collaborations with such a keynote speaker.
The actual fees for keynote speeches delivered by thought leaders can vary wildly. You can generally expect to pay anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000.
($25,000 – $75,000)
Some individuals are well-recognized and known in a particular industry or field. Such renown may be for a variety of reasons and is not always because of their expertise in that particular area.
The great advantage of getting a well-known figure to deliver a virtual keynote speech is that you can add value to your event’s marketing and appeal. You can show off your keynote speaker on posters, in videos, over social media campaigns, and across any other marketing efforts.
It is best to hire a renowned individual for a virtual keynote speech if you are looking to attract a large audience to your event. The more widely known is the speaker, the greater your chances of hooking the interest of the relevant attendees.
However, getting such an individual to speak at your virtual event comes at a price. Expect to pay anywhere between $25,000 and $75,000 for tapping a speaker from this category.
($50,000 – $200,000)
The top celebrities command fan followings going from tens of millions to billions of people. The presence of one such celebrity at a virtual event can guarantee its success and exposure.
An early example of this was the famous Travis Scott concert back in 2020. Scott performed at a virtual concert in the game Fortnite. The event was able to attract well over 12 million players, making it one of the biggest virtual events at the time.
It makes sense to bring a major celebrity on board for your virtual event if you expect to draw a huge audience. Most event organizers are willing to invite such star-rated celebrity speakers only when they expect the ticket sales to far exceed the hefty fees they must pay the speakers.
For a celebrity speaker, you can expect to pay $50,000 to $200,000. Celebrities with a larger fan following tend to charge more than those with a smaller fan base.
Click here for tips to rein in entertainment riders for big-name artists.
The Best of the Best
($100,000 – $300,000)
These are the top-rated speakers who are known both regionally and globally for their expertise, renown, success, or fame. Think Tony Robbins, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. Your virtual event is sure to make headlines around the world if you tap one of these speakers.
The best thing about hiring these top-rated speakers is that you don’t have to do a lot of marketing. Your panel of keynote speakers is enough to draw a huge number of relevant attendees to the event.
That being said, this category of keynote speakers costs the most. You will likely be paying anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000 to have a speaker from this category deliver a keynote address at your virtual event.
Factors That Affect Speaker Fees
Several factors impact the actual virtual keynote speaker fees. Here is a look at these.
Pre-Recorded vs. Real-Time
Your virtual may be real-time or pre-recorded, depending on your audience and other requirements. If you are going with pre-recorded content, your chief speaker may charge less. This is because a pre-recorded speech typically involves one-way content so that the speaker doesn’t have to interact live, respond to questions, or otherwise engage with the audience.
If the event is live and involves interactive activities like Q & A sessions, a speaker may end up charging you more. You should consider this when determining what format is best suited for your virtual event.
Duration of Keynote Speech
A speaker who is delivering an hour-long speech is very likely to charge more than if he were to speak for only 15 minutes. Given the brief attention span of online audiences, it is best to stick to shorter keynote speeches. However, longer speeches are unavoidable when a thought leader or industry expert takes the stage.
Ultimately, you should plan ahead to strike a balance between the duration of the speech and your budgetary considerations. You can also tap multiple speakers that charge differently to bring a diverse range of content without breaking your budget for the event.
The time a speaker has to prepare for an event also impacts the fees that particular speaker will charge. If you have notified and hired a speaker only days ahead of an event, the speaker will likely charge you more for the short notice. If you have brought a speaker on board months ahead, you have better odds of striking a more favorable fee arrangement.
Virtual Event Speaker Agreement
Because of their legal importance all contracts should be vetted by a legal professional. This ensures that the contract is legally binding and that both parties are confident they’re protected when signing.
Most virtual events rely heavily on keynote speakers to attract and engage a desirable audience. This is true for virtual conferences, workshops, lectures, webinars, and any other kind of online event. As with in-person events, you will have to pay a certain fee to get a notable speaker to be a part of your event’s guest line-up.
Speakers from different categories charge differently. Industry experts typically charge based on their years of experience, accomplishments, publications, and prowess as a speaker. Celebrity keynote speakers will charge you based on their star power and fan following. The top speakers, which typically include globally renowned politicians or experts, charge the most.
Don’t forget that the right speaker will not only add value to your event but will also bring extra exposure. A celebrity with millions of followers, for instance, can bring a spotlight to your event by tweeting about it as they deliver a keynote speech. These are all things you must consider when determining what type of keynote speakers best suit your particular virtual event.
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