“Would you speak to our group? What are your fees?”
Questions like these can leave you scrambling to quote a price that is reasonable for you and affordable for the organization seeking to hire you.
But push too hard concerning price, and you could find yourself out of a job. Offer a price that seems too low, and the organization that extended the invitation may wonder whether you really have anything of value to offer after all.
As a coach, how do you set a fair speaking fee? The answer depends on your business goals.
What Are Your Business Goals?
For me, the goal was never to travel and speak. From the start, my goal was to build a private caseload of coaching clients I could serve from home.
In my early days of promoting my coaching services, I would travel and speak almost anywhere I could get an invitation, and I didn’t hesitate to pay my own travel expenses, hotels, meals, and in some cases, the conference registration fee as well.
When a group invited me to speak and offered to pay my expenses too, I was thrilled. Of course, I knew speakers generally receive a stipend — and sometimes a decent one — but my focus was always on gaining visibility and credibility that would lead to new clients I could work with for months from home.
I saw speaking as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Be forewarned, by listening to well-meaning people who pump you up and tell you to “charge what you’re worth,” you could wind up penny wise and pound foolish.
Don’t Risk Setting Your Fees Too High
Recently, I spoke with a woman who received an invitation to be one of two keynote speakers at a national convention whose attendees were her target market.
She also received the typical advice that well-meaning consultants often give — something like, “Oh my goodness, you need to ask for at least $2,000.”
She took the consultant’s advice.
Although they had assured her the gig was hers, they reneged saying, “We’ve had a downturn in membership renewals this year, so we’ve decided to go with another speaker who didn’t charge a fee. Please know that you were our first choice, but the budget committee made the final decision.”
Naturally, my client was devastated, realizing she had lost the single best opportunity she had to get before her target audience for at least another year. Sadly, she lost not only the speaking fee she had hoped for, but also potentially thousands of dollars in client income.
It was a painful lesson and one I have seen often enough to know it’s important to be clear upfront about your business goals before negotiating your speaking fee.
Remember, if your primary business goal is to gain visibility and credibility to market your coaching services, don’t push too hard for a speaking fee — or you could end up losing far more than a speaking opportunity.
What’s your business goal for speaking?