How to find keynote speakers under $5,000

Do you need to hire a keynote speakers under $5000?

Event planning can be a thankless job.

Do it right, run a seamless meeting and nobody will notice just how smooth things went.  But if you make a mistake, it will stand out in the most hideous of ways, made all the worse by the fact that you’ll probably worry it into a bigger problem than it actually was.

Lots of little things can go wrong at an event, but one big thing you need to get right is choosing your keynote speaker.

Choosing the Right Keynote Speaker

Finding and booking the right keynote speaker can render a bunch of other small imperfections meaningless.

A great keynote speaker can mean the difference between a so-so event and one of the most memorable events ever.  Think back on your own experiences.

If you ever heard Coach John Wooden, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, Brian Tracy or any other number of top professionals, you probably walked away transformed and inspired.

A great keynote speaker can do that, and will do that at your upcoming event. And even if your budget is a lot less than what top speakers charge, you can still make a big impact on your audience if you’re willing to do the hard work up front.

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Costs of Hiring a Keynote Speaker

The fee a keynote speaker charges is one of the purest forms of supply and demand.  If a keynote speaker is able to generate interest based on their accomplishments, past presentations or perceived value to an audience, then their speaking fee will be commensurate with those elements.

One way you can save money when hiring a keynote speaker is by simply asking if they are willing to give you a deal. Here’s language you can use.

Based on reputation, experience, demand and other relevant factors, here are some loose guidelines about what you might expect to pay for a keynote speaker.

Keynote Speakers Under $5000

While paying less than $5,000 may seem cheap, it doesn’t always mean you’re getting an entry level speaker.

Some of the best speakers charge $5,000 or less. I once sat through a talk with an NFL hall-of-famer and it turns out he was willing to speak for $5,000 because it was a local event and didn’t require any traveling.

So, definitely don’t associate keynote speakers under $5,000 with entry level, sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a really powerful and action driving speaker for your event.

Another helpful way to find a keynote speaker under $5,000 is if you’re a non-profit. Non-profits may be able to negotiate a lower fee if the cause resonates with the speaker.  There are a wide number of choices of keynote speakers who will accept this fee range and negotiating in other soft benefits may allow you wiggle room in what the ultimate hard cost speaking fee might be.

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Keynote Speakers for $5000-$10,000

Expect to pay in this range for a professional, experienced speaker who has successfully given a number keynote addresses, has a certain amount of name recognition, and a several positive reviews and samples to justify their cost.

Keynote Speakers for $10,000-$20,000

Even though your budget may only allow for $5,000, through sponsorships you may be able to upgrade significantly and move to higher caliber and more well-known keynote speakers. People is this category have experience in speaking at large global conferences in front of large audiences.  This can include CEOs, leading academics, subject matter authors, and some celebrities.

Keynote Speakers $25,000-100,000

Think A-list celebrities and well known people who are more than just keynote speakers.  You can attract worldwide industry leaders, best-selling authors and those with similar pedigrees in this range.

Keynote Speakers for $100k or More

Reserved for former presidents, selected high level CEOs and a few select others.  Most everyone on the planet is available for the right price, even though your budget won’t allow for it, it’s good to know what the upper limit is.

Hiring Free Keynote Speakers

If someone is new or has limited keynote speaking experience and you have no budget, you may be able to work a trade with a speaker, allowing them to sell merchandise or consulting services in exchange for the exposure a keynote address would provide to them.

Did you know that Russel Brunson didn’t charge Grant Cardone a speaking fee at the 10x conference walked away earning $3,000,000 from selling his program?

This works especially well if the speaker is local to your conference event, otherwise you might have to pay for travel and hotel expenses.

You can limit your costs for travel if you place a cap on these items as part of your negotiations.

Always ask your keynote speaker if they have products they would like to sell in exchange for waiving the speaking fee.

Tips on finding a keynote speaker under $5,000

If you’re responsible for finding a keynote speaker, you have got to have a game plan in place that you’ve developed with senior event organizers.  Gaining general consensus early on is important to making sure you do actually wind up with the best possible option.

What type of keynote speaker do you want?

One of the most important questions to ask is what type of speaker do you want?

Removing price from the discussion, there is a huge impact the speaker will have on the message they will deliver on your behalf.

Consider the following:

Do you want a celebrity keynote speaker? 

You don’t have to think “Hollywood” or “Washington, DC” for this, but perhaps someone who is well known in your industry who will attract attention, is current and relevant.

Celebrity speakers can be anything from local to national and sometimes the best ways to find a celebrity speaker is to tap your natural market. You’ll be surprised what types of celebrities are only one connection removed from your natural network.

  • Hall of fame tennis players
  • Hall of NFL players
  • Retired hockey players
  • Actors and Actresses
  • Comedians
  • Philanthropists
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Media personalities

The list goes on and on, try utilizing your natural market to find a celebrity speaker willing to work with you for your upcoming event.

How about an Industry thought leader as a keynote speaker?

These may be similar to celebrities but more well-known behind the scenes and through a distinguished and long-standing track record of accomplishments.  Thought leaders may also agree to speak if they are passionate about what your event is about and may agree to speak in pursuit of knowledge and exchange of ideas.

Authors or journalists?

Often times, they are able to articulate a more global view than someone who might be colored by time spent at a certain company in your industry.  They may be able to connect the dots and bring new ideas and interpretations to your audience that may surprise a lot of people.

What about motivational speakers?

There are times when people need a break from their own industry and simply need to be rejuvenated with new ideas that are more universal.  Consider bringing in someone outside of your industry who will have an interesting take at a high level.

Finding motivational speakers under $5,000 is extremely doable and one of the best ways is to simply ask.

Here’s an example…

You’re looking for a motivational speaker and have your selection narrowed down to two candidates, both have great stories that will wow your audience.

The only difference is one motivational recently released their first book which is for sale on Amazon for $15. One great strategy for getting a motivational speaker to book under $5000 is offer to buy a bulk of books in lieu of a fee.

In this instance if you have 150 people attending your conference and you order 150 copies of the speakers book, you’ll only spend $2,250 which is a great deal for a motivational speaker.

You’ll be surprised how many motivational speakers are motivated to make a deal regarding their speaking fee when they are trying to boost their book sales.

Of course, with a budget near or under $5,000, you may need to get out-of-the-box because many keynote speakers just won’t fit into your budget.

That’s when you need to get creative.

Look for ways to structure an event that may bring in added revenue, such as a private lunch or meet and greet.  Work with a speaker on merchandising sales, sponsorships, a pitch for consulting services, shared contact information and more.

See if event organizers might be willing to juggle line items for other expenses to pump up your keynote speaker budget (i.e. a fully catered breakfast buffet can become coffee and donuts if the reward is high enough).

The great thing about many keynote speakers, especially those still earning a reputation, is that they will be flexible and recognize that every speech they give puts them that much closer to their own goals as well.

A limited budget means you’ll also need to start your search for a speaker as early as possible and remain flexible until you’ve reached a deal.

Run a Keynote Speakers Wanted Campaign

One of the easiest ways to find a keynote speaker to fit in your budget is by running a keynote speaker wanted ad online. This is a great way to target keynote speakers and tell them exactly what you’re looking for. And, it’s an expensive way to find a keynote speaker under $5,000.

A great way to do this would be to run a Facebook ad with some type of the following language.

Keynote Speaker Wanted

We’re looking to hire a keynote speaker to help our sales team discover their maximum potential. Event is scheduled for 1/1/2020. Our budget is $5,000 or less, if you’re a qualified keynote speaker on sales, please complete the form below to schedule a time to speak with our event planner.

Ways to negotiate the best deal for Keynote Speakers

If your looking to hire a keynote speaker under $5,000, you may need to get creative in what you’re willing to give and get as part of negotiating the best deal.

Here are some ideas to consider.

Invite Keynote Speaker to Lunch

It never hurts to ask a speaker to add value to your event by adding some things that the speaker could do for their normal fee.

For example, inviting the speaker to a private lunch with some of the key people at your event is a win-win for both you and the speaker.

The speaker will network with decision-makers who may be able to steer more speaking events in the future, and the key people will benefit from added exposure to an industry or subject matter expert. 

Keynote Speaker Expert Panel

In addition to delivering a keynote address, ask if the speaker will also agree to serve as part of a panel discussion.

Many times at annual meetings or conventions there are break out sessions on various topics specific to the audience.

  • Sales
  • marketing
  • Legal
  • Compliance
  • Networking

Consider asking your speaker if they would like to sit on an expert panel to further help them build their brand awareness and credibility in their respective field.

Sell Their Products

The speaker may also have several products they have developed such as books, audio series or multiple day classes that they would like to pitch at your event.

This could be a small commercial at the beginning or end of their speech as well as a booth set up in the back of the room to actually physically sell these products.  Most times, this is a given, but you can try to use it as leverage when negotiating a fee.

Get Your Speaker More Exposure

You might also negotiate giving a way of few of these materials as part of the fee.  It’s good publicity for the speaker and nothing gets an audience revved up like getting something for free.

  • Dangle the prospect of allowing the speaker to use your event email list to contact attendees after the fact, if its feasible. 
  • Barter with the speaker by offering advertising or the ability to do a direct mail piece to attendees.
  • Consider building in the ability to videotape the address so that it can be used internally for reference in the future.

Conference or Event Discounts

It you are part of a large corporation, you may be able to negotiate a multiple event speaking fee that averages out to a reduced rate.

This happens all the time when booking a keynote speaker.

One speech may be $5,000, but the speaker may be open to doing three speeches at your regional conferences for $10,000.

If your company puts on multiple conferences per year, you should always leverage that with your speakers.

Have Your Conference Vendors Sponsor Your Keynote Speaker

Using other people’s money is also a great way to negotiate the best deal.

You can do this by seeking sponsorships from your vendors, suppliers or someone attached to your event who can offset some of the costs.

For example, if you’re a financial services firm looking to bring in a keynote speaker for a sales meeting, consider asking one of the insurance companies you sell to give you a marketing budget. This is not uncommon at all and a great way to build additional relationships in your business.

Perhaps you can get a keynote speaker for $10,000 and only pay $5,000 because your sponsor is willing to split the cost with you.

Traits of a good keynote speaker

Finding a great keynote speaker is not an exact science.  What works best for one conference or event or organization will not always work best for another.  Your needs, your audience and your goals are going to be different in every case.

Despite all the differences, there are some things that good keynote speakers share in common.  Here are some things you should look for and want during your search:

Keynote speaker with Charisma

Some people have it.  Others develop it over time.  Either way, charisma can carry the day.  People are engaged when a speaker is energetic, makes good eye contact, is funny, direct and delivers important information that is both memorable and useful. Charisma means being well rehearsed but not to the point of choking all the spontaneity out of a presentation.  It also means reading from cue cards is a kiss of death. 

Keynote Speaker with Confidence

This may appear obvious, but chances are your audience will have seen several keynote speakers during the course of their career, and they’ll be able to spot someone who is unsure of themselves a mile away.  A lack of confidence becomes the primary focal point and takes away from whatever message is being conveyed, even if it is timely and critical.  A lack of confidence also leads to a lack of ability to motivate an audience to listen and to consider making a change based on the message.  When that happens, you lose an audience who may actually resent the speaker and the conference organizer for wasting their time. 

Keynote Speaker that is a Great Storyteller

Anyone can stand up in front of an audience and spout statistics and case studies all day long.  But a truly effective keynote speaker will be able to take raw information and distill it into something more personal.  A shared story is memorable and can unite an audience with something that’s easy to remember and makes an important point to drive a message home. 

Keynote Speaker with a personalized message

If you are a keynote speaker talking to an audience in Chicago, is your speech going to resonate more if you can talk about going to a ballgame at Wrigley Field or to taking in a Seahawks game in Seattle?  Connecting to an audience with something familiar is critical to gaining attention and removing barriers that can get in the way of delivering a message. 

A good speaker will find a way to comment on corporate culture (don’t chat about Apple’s way of doing things if you’re talking to sales executives at Microsoft) in a way that is relevant to the audience.  This also shows a speaker has taken the time to do his or her homework and an audience takes note of that as well. 

The other way a good keynote speaker can be relatable is if they can give examples or tell stories that involve their own personal experiences.  Being vulnerable and self-aware is not always easy to do, but it is a great way for a speaker to connect with others. This helps the audience to see that you’re a real person with life experiences, emotions, and lessons learned. When you personalize segments of a speech and show passion for your topic, you have a better chance of selling the principles you’re trying to convey.

Keynote Speaker who is Authentic

A good keynote speaker can stand out from the crowd by having an original way of delivering a message, or by infusing humor into a presentation.  Bad humor can be devastating, but when done right, humor can lead to wider acceptance and a more memorable message.

Keynote Speaker with Take Aways

An audience should walk away from a keynote address with actionable items that can immediately be implemented.

Those actionable items should be fleshed out in the keynote and supported with facts, personal stories or observations. Below are some common items you should expect a speaker to have available.

  • Mental Toughness Playbook
  • Scripted Sales Language
  • Networking Tips
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Business Hacks to Save Time

These items should provide immense value to the audience so they are walking away completely amazed and inspired.

A few other things to consider when booking a keynote speaker

Much like buying other services way in advance (i.e. airfares, hotels), if you’re able to book a keynote speaker way in advance, you have the opportunity to save a fair amount of money.  If you host an annual conference, a smart move may be to book your speaker this year for next year’s event.  You’ll only need to pay a deposit in most cases of 25-50%, and you could realize significant savings before a speaker’s fees go up.

Another key is making sure you use a reputable speakers bureau.  This is where doing your homework comes in.

What is a speakers bureau?

A speakers bureau is a company that specializes in aggregating keynote speakers across various topics and connecting them with speaking event opportunities.

One of the best speakers bureau groups we have found is run by Ben Newman, an international performance coach and keynote speaker. Newman is best known for his work at the executive level in business and sports at the professional and collegiate levels.

Newman founded BNC Speakers as he’s built his brand over the last decade. BNC Speakers is a highly regarded group of speakers that covers the budget from under $5,000 all the way up the spectrum.

Want to Shop a Keynote Speaker?

Yes, I need to find a speaker that fits my budget!

Find a speakers bureau who will not tack on additional expenses such as a commission on top of the standard speaker’s fee they charge.  There is typically no extra cost to a client who purchases or books a speaker through a speaker’s bureau, because the speaker pays a fee to the bureau for the referral.

Look for a bureau who is willing to be flexible based on the date of your event, the location and what your budget can really stand. 

Most every keynote speaker has at least one other professional career, especially those charging under $5,000, and you can use “ulterior motives” as a bargaining chip that may help you reduce monetary fees. 

Sometimes it may be possible for a broker at a bureau to string together a series of speaking engagements for a keynote speaker and this could lead to a reduced fee.  Also consider where a keynote speaker lives.  If it’s convenient for the speaker to travel 50 miles instead of 3,000 miles, this might allow for some flexibility as well. 

Guest speakers may be keynote speakers as well, but they can also be used alongside a keynote speaker. Often, the keynote speaker will do a talk and is then followed by another guest speaker. The keynote speaker is usually also the most important speaker and may therefore cost more than most guest speakers.

What to expect…could anything go wrong in the process?

Sometimes, what you see and hear isn’t always what you see and get.  That can hold true for keynote speakers too.  Despite chatting with them over the phone, reviewing demo performances and doing your homework, you can still end up with a less than ideal performer.

A poorly prepared speaker is one who has not done his or her homework either.  That includes understanding the event and the audience, tailoring a speech to that audience and having a deep understanding of the goals of the event.

Don’t be fooled by credentials only.  Sometimes a speaker with outstanding academic credentials will come off as too bookish.  Also don’t assume that just because someone is an author of a book that they’ll be a good speaker too. 

Part of your due diligence should also include whether or not the speaker has a reputation for showing up on time, if they normally arrive prepared and rehearsed, and if they are responsive to answering questions from the audience.  For a speaker with any kind of a track record, this should be easy to determine, but you need to be aware of these things as possible red flags.

Human error is one thing, and mother nature is another.  If your event takes place in the winter and the speaker is traveling any kind of distance to attend, just know that weather can derail all kinds of travel plans with very short notice.

Best keynote speakers for 2019

Here are some additional resources you can tap to help you find the best keynote speaker for your event in 2019 and beyond:

Aeneas WilliamsT

Teri Griege

Donovin Darius

Vicki Hamilton

Will Compton

Liv Ryan

David Gorsage

Alan Stein Jr.

Nicole Kalil

Jeremy Patty

Dan O’Brien

Kaleb Thornhill

Jordan Montgomery

Dylan Slattery

Brittany Bock

Lisa Corona

Conclusion

Finding an affordable keynote speaker isn’t hard, the hard part is finding the right speaker for your audience. Just because your budget is under $5,000 doesn’t mean you can’t work with a speakers bureau to find the perfect fit.

Your experience finding a speaker under $5,000 should be just as strong as those looking for the most expensive keynote speakers.

As obvious as it may sound, if your budget is $5,000 or less, simply do an online search for “keynote speakers under $5,000.” 

You’ll turn up dozens of possibilities to help you find what you’re looking for.

If you would like our help finding a keynote speaker, we would be happy to discuss your event details and pair you with any of the great speakers in our vast network.