How To Negotiate Speaking Fees

If you are in the market to be asked to speak at things — fancy! — but are perhaps not at Malcolm Gladwell speaker circuit fund your life status yet, this post by artist and speaker Seb Lee-Delisle is super helpful.

Negotiating a fee for this kind of stuff can be awkward. After all, you feel so cool to be asked! And maybe you’re promoting your work, or your ideas, or your #personalbrand. But they are not holding this conference out of the kindness of their hearts or to do YOU a favor! Unless they are, and it’s a nonprofit or true “community” (i.e., free) event, in which case: different story.

In any case, Seb breaks it down:

First of all – here’s how I would respond to someone inviting me to speak at a conference :

Hi xxxx,

Thanks so much for inviting me to speak at xxxx conference, it looks like a great event and I’d love to be a part of it.

My fee for 2014 is £xxx, plus travel and accommodation, with payment in full 14 days before the event. If that works for you then let me know and I’ll book it in.


Sometimes they’ll come back saying that they don’t have budget, or make you an offer. It’s at that point that I ask, very directly, usually in one sentence.

What is the capacity and ticket price for the event?

I usually don’t even put any niceties around this question, which may come across as a bit dickish, but I like to think it makes me sound confident. Some simple maths will then enable to you figure out if they can really afford you or not.

Oh man, I totally support that last part, as hard as it would be for me to actually follow through with it.



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