It’s a common Q: What is an appropriate honorarium for a speaker who keynotes an event? We understand: Hosting a top orator can be a highlight for any event or gathering. While some presenters command hefty professional fees, when considering what is an appropriate honorarium for a speaker, many experts are willing to participate for a modest cost that covers their costs and shows appreciation for their time and expertise. Establishing the right balance requires considering numerous factors.

Reputation and Drawing Power
A speaker’s reputation and ability to attract attendees should influence the honorarium amount. Renowned thought leaders, best-selling authors, or celebrities will likely expect higher honorariums (ex: $10,000 and up) than lesser-known local professionals or up-and-coming voices. Their name recognition adds significant value.

Travel Requirements
If your speaker is traveling from out of town, a higher honorarium helps offset costs like airfare, transportation, hotels, and meals. Domestic travelers may only need coverage for a few hundred dollars, while lengthy international travel could justify a $1,000+ honorarium.

Preparation Time
While some speakers deliver generic canned presentations, others invest significant time crafting customized, richly-researched content tailored to your audience. An honorarium of $300-$1,000+ is where local presenters start – you can begin adding one or more zeroes where professional keynote speakers are concerned, though.

Topic Complexity
Speakers addressing intricate or highly technical subject matter typically warrant higher honorarium ranges of $500-$2,500 or more, if they are local or regional presenters. You are paying for their depth of specialized knowledge and experience. Keep in mind that again, professionals may command significantly higher fees by an order of magnitude of 10X or more.

Speaking Length
Speakers spending a full day at your event should receive a higher honorarium than those only presenting for an hour or two. Equating the honorarium to their time commitment is reasonable.

Your Organization’s Budget
As a general guide, many organizations plan for speaker honorariums of $200-$1,000 for local/regional experts, with adjustments based on their profiles. National conferences and conventions set aside more like $10-30,000 per individual presenter. Assess your budget’s flexibility, but avoid undervaluing truly exceptional speakers.

Speaker Motivations
Also understand some speakers’ primary motivation is sharing their insights rather than compensation. They may only expect travel costs covered or a modest honorarium below market rates for the exposure or philanthropic reasons.

Determining what is an appropriate honorarium for a speaker demonstrates your appreciation for a speaker’s time, costs and expertise while respectfully fitting within your organization’s means. Openly discussing honorarium expectations upfront ensures a rewarding experience for both parties.