The conference speaking business, results from the survey

A few weeks ago I was writing content for my speaking information for conference organisers page and I wondered about other speakers’ ‘terms of business’ and how much—if anything—they charged. To get a feeling for how people approach the business of speaking, I set up a quick survey.

I included questions about contracts, fees, reimbursable expenses, and payment terms. I’m by no means a professional researcher and I’m positive that I could improve these questions if I run this survey again in the future.

The questions

  1. How long have you been speaking at conferences?
  2. How many times per year on average do you speak at conferences?
  3. Do you charge a fee to speak at conferences?
  4. If you charge a fee, how much do you charge on average?
  5. Do you adjust any fee depending on the conference’s ticket prices?
  6. Do you waive any fee for non-profit community events and meet ups?
  7. Do you charge a non-refundable ‘booking fee?’
  8. Do you insist on organisers signing a contract?
  9. How quickly do organisers pay your fee?
  10. Do conferences commonly arrange in advance and pay for?
  11. Do you insist on premium or business class air travel and train fares over a certain duration?
  12. Do you have information for conference organisers available online?

A summary

  1. 237 people responded over 7 days
  2. Majority have been speaking for between 2–5 years
  3. Most speak between 1–3 times per year
  4. Majority charge no fee to speak
  5. For those who charge a fee, the average is between $500–2,500 USD
  6. 90% don’t charge a booking fee
  7. Majority don’t sign a contract
  8. Most fees are paid within 30 days

The results

I’m presenting the answers to my questions without a commentary. I’ll leave how I feel about how people approach the business of speaking at conferences to a separate post.


How many years have you been speaking at conferences?
< 1 2–5 6–10 > 10
< 1 year 8.7%
2–5 years 40.6%
6–10 years 26.9%
10 years > 26.9%

Majority have been speaking for between 2–5 years.


How many times per year on average do you speak at conferences?
1–3 4–6 7–10 10 >
1–3 times 52.1%
4–6 times 26%
7–10 times 12.8%
> 10 times 9.1%

Most speak between 1–3 times per year.


Do you charge a fee to speak at conferences?
Always Sometimes Never
Always 8.3%
Sometimes 33.9%
Never 57.8%

Majority charge no fee to speak.


If you charge a fee, how much do you charge on average? (USD)
< $500
$500–2,500
$2,500–5,000
$5,000–10,000
$10,000 >

Fees converted to US Dollars. If someone gave a range, I included the higher amount.


Do you adjust any fee depending on conferences’ ticket prices?
No Yes I don’t charge
Yes 28.6%
No 21.4%
Don’t charge a fee 50%

Half of people don’t charge a fee. Of those that do, 21.4% charge a flat fee and don’t change it according to the ticket price.


Do you waive any fee for non-profit community events and meet ups?
No Yes I don’t charge
Yes 43.2%
No 8.3%
Don’t charge a fee 48.4%

Majority charge no fee to speak at non-profit community events and meet ups.


Do you charge a non-refundable ‘booking fee?’
No
No 92.4%
Yes 7.6%

Overwhelming majority don’t charge a non-refundable booking fee.


Do you insist on organisers signing a contract?
Yes No
No 82.8%
Yes 17.2%

Majority don’t insist on organisers signing a contract.


How quickly do organisers pay your fee?
In advance On the day < 7 < 30 < 60 60 >
In advance 19.1%
On the day 11.8%
< 7 days 10.9%
< 30 days 46.4%
< 60 days 10%
60 days > 1.8%

Most fees are paid within 30 days.


Do conferences commonly arrange in advance and pay for?
Accommodation Air or train travel Transportation Hotel wifi/internet
93.3% 73.8% 41.8% 37.6%

Do you insist on premium or business class air travel and train fares over a certain duration?
No
No 87.8%
Yes 12.2%

Do you insist on premium or business class air travel and train fares no matter the length of time it takes to travel to an event.


Do you have information for conference organisers available online?
No
No 94.5%
Yes 5.5%

Only a fraction of speakers have information for conference organisers available online.


A conclusion

I’ll leave how I feel about these results and how people approach the business of speaking at conferences to a separate post. Until then, are you surprised by them? Let me know what you think. (You can blame Errol for the bananas.)


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