Event pros ask: What is an honorarium payment for guest speakers? When hosting a special professional keynote speaking pro or presenter at your event, conference, or lecture series, paying them a fee is considered standard practice. But what is an honorarium payment for guest speakers exactly in practice, and how does it differ from a professional speaking fee? Let’s break down the core details.

What Is an Honorarium?
An honorarium is a small payment or gift given to thank someone for their service or for voluntarily contributing their expertise and time. It is seen as a token of appreciation, rather than compensation for services rendered. Honorariums are commonly paid to guest speakers, lecturers, panelists, and others who are sharing their knowledge without an expectation of a full professional fee.

Honorarium vs Speaking Fee
In contrast, a professional speaking fee or keynote fee is negotiated based on market value, the speaker’s draw and demand, travel requirements, preparation time, and other factors. These fees can range vastly from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars for top celebrities and thought leaders. Unlike a professional speaking fee, an honorarium is a modest, pre-determined amount intended to offset costs and convey gratitude.

Typical Honorarium Amounts
Appropriate honorarium amounts can vary considerably based on the guest’s profile and your organization’s means. As general guidelines:
– Student, local community guest: $50-$250
– University lecturer or local expert: $250-$750
– Regional or specialized professional: $500-$2,000
– National figure or celebrated author: $2,000-$7,500+

Top international speakers may receive higher honorariums of $10,000 or more if not their full fee.

Other Compensations
In addition to the honorarium payment itself, it is customary to cover all reasonable travel expenses for out-of-town guests. This includes airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, and meals. Some organizations may also provide additional courtesies like event tickets, books, or gift items.

An honorarium is not a replacementfor a full speaking fee, but rather a respectable way to compensate someone’s time and expertise at a lower cost. It allows organizations with limited budgets to host more renowned guests. Clearly communicating honorarium details upfront ensures a positive experience for all.