2018 Public Speaking Report – Chapter 2

Feb 13, 2019 | Public Speaking


One of the reasons why Speakersbase launched the survey is to find out more about the secretive market of public speaking. And it seems like the public speakers that participated in the survey wanted the same thing! We found that there is a real desire for more transparency with the public speakers as well.

In this chapter, we will be diving in the opinions of public speakers when it comes to transparency in the public speaking industry. All about communication, public speaking fees and secrecy will be exposed!


So what do the respondents think about the notoriously clouded communications with event organizers? A lot apparently! A staggering 65% clicked “totally agree” on the statement “I believe open communications between organizers and public speakers can improve the public speaking industry”. Which means that well over half of all public speakers want more transparency from the bat. Add to that number the surveyed who said “agree”, and we come to a whopping 95%.

Figure 7. I believe open communications between event organizers and public speakers would improve the public speaking industry.

It stands without question that the public industry has a need for more straightforward communication. Too often, communication takes a long time, there is being skirted around pricing and expectations, which results in frustrations on both sides.One of the reasons we started with our Call for Speakers is so event organizers get unburdened in this often tedious process.
About the agencies
The event organizers are not the only known very private party in the industry. The public speaking agencies are famously mysterious about commission, which speakers they represent, and how they support their public speakers. However, the opinions regarding them are a little more mixed.

Most survey respondents agreed with the question that more transparency regarding agency commissions would improve the public speaking community. Though less people straight out “totally agreed”, a total of 81% still “agrees” or “totally agrees”. This large majority proves the anecdotes within our community. Namely, it seems that public speakers find the way some agencies work and provide services unclear. Public speakers like knowing what agency takes what percentage of commission, so it seems.

Yet when it comes to agency representation, there are more mixed responses. With agency representation we mean transparency about what public speaker has signed with what agency. Considering the exclusivity clause in many contracts, Speakersbase believes would be interesting the know who your colleagues and competitors are within your agency. However, 26% of the speakers were not entirely convinced that agencies had to share which speakers they represent. Interestingly so, but such transparency would be more beneficial for the event organizers rather than their fellow public speakers. On the other hand, 74% of all respondents still agreed on the fact that more transparency in this area would benefit them. No mean number!

Figure 8. I believe open communication about agency commissions can improve the public speaking industry.

Figure 9. I believe open communication about which agency represents which public speaker can improve the public speaking industry

The question remains, will the public speaking industry – and the MICE industry by extension – make the efforts required to create that transparency?


We do not wish to point fingers at the bigger players in the industry, because public speakers themselves are notoriously secretive towards their colleagues as well!

Figure 10. I believe open communication about how much other speakers charge can improve the public speaking industry.
Figure 10. I believe open communication about how much other speakers charge can improve the public speaking industry.

22% of all public speakers do not feel the need to know or share public speaking fees. Their reasoning is unstated. Though one can assume they feel secure in their fee, or that they worry that fees being out in the open would push prices down rather than up.

78% of all speakers to feel like sharing would be beneficial. Some advantages of knowing the fees of your peers would include being more confident that your own price is correct, being able to agree on higher prices, and not underselling your expertise.

When asked about the average speaking fee, there was a huge difference between the highest and lowest named fee! While there are a lot of respondents that ask for nothing or around 100 dollars, there are some that comfortably ask anything between 5.000 and 10.000 dollars per speech. So why the big gap?

Figure 10. I believe open communication about how much other speakers charge can improve the public speaking industry.

Figure 11. What is your average speaking fee?

Some of the responses about their fees included “I am just learning to be a public speaker, so I don’t feel comfortable asking for money yet”. But there are also public speakers who let us know that “This is work, and I want to be paid to work.” Which seems fair to us.

There was only a slight connection between the mentioned fee and the country of origin and age. Though all speakers asked 5.000 dollar or more were above 40 years old, there was no real pattern in country. We expected to see that famously mature and established markets like the USA and the UK would provide the speakers that asked higher fees, but that was not entirely true. The USA did provide 30% of the speakers that asked a fee over $5.000. However, Italian and Dutch speakers also made up 30% of that group. It seems that age, or rather experience, has a lot more to do with the fee than the maturity of the public speaking market.

In Chapter 3 we will discuss the public speaking industry conventions: where public speakers speak, if they ever speak for free, and if they pay to be on stage.

Missed chapter 1? Read it here!

Are you ready? Download the report below!

2018 Public Speaking Report (105 downloads)

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