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How Much Should I Be Paid for My Speaking?

Dana Corriel MD weighs in on the factors involved in determining compensation for speaking gigs. It isn't always a cookie-cutter formula.

June 4, 2022

“How much should I be asking to get paid for my speaking gig?”

Someone in our physician-only SoMeDocs FB group threw the question out there to the crowd.

In my own experience, there’s no straightforward answer.

I’ve met people who speak for free, and also for compensation of upwards of $25k.

The calculation truly depends on various factors.

 

 

Weighing your speaking price includes:

1. How valuable YOU are to them.

Let’s face it, the law of supply and demand is how the real world works.

Your time is worth the amount someone is willing to pay for it.

And often times, they are willing to pay more if you’re a one-of-a-kind.

If no one else, for example, can speak about your topic, your talk is likely worth MUCH MORE than others’; especially if their audience benefits from your talk.

 

Let’s face it, the law of supply and demand is how the real world works. Your time is worth the amount someone is willing to pay for it. Click To Tweet

 

2. What’s your “value add”?

This refers to how much adding you into the gig’s lineup results in drawing in a paying audience.

If it means ten more people for them, at a ticket price of $499 per person, for example, then you help make the company hiring you an extra 5 grand, and they can afford to pay you more.

 

Video from SoMeDocs.

 

You can certainly get creative with this, especially when you’re negotiating a price.

If you throw factors in to “sweeten the deal”, it can up the cost you ask to charge.

 

3. How much it helps YOU to speak.

Getting hired into a talk can also help YOU, too.

Among other things, it helps you build credibility as a speaker, and as a thought leader.

You can add it into your CV, and that, in and of itself, is worth more than money, for some gigs you could take part in.

It adds to your speaking status, and enriches your experience.

Not to mention that it also allows you to practice and get even better, if it’s at all pertinent.

 

Getting hired into a talk can also help YOU, too. Among other things, it helps you build credibility as a speaker, and as a thought leader. Click To Tweet

 

4. What is their budget?

This is important because they may, for example, be a non-profit that doesn’t charge its audience to attend your speaking session.

In this case, they may not have a lot, money-wise to offer (but keep in mind, as I’ll mention below, that you can always barter!).

If, on the other hand, they are charging conference-goers, and especially if it’s a hefty amount, and your talk is lined up on their list, they may have much more to spend.

There are companies, furthermore, that pay much more for talks than others.

An example is a pharmaceutical company, or other multi-million (and sometimes billion) ventures, which can afford to pay a speaker much more nicely than would a residency program sometimes can.

 

5. How much preparation is involved?

You’ll need to factor in how much time you need to spend on the talk, in advance.

Are you preparing special slides? Putting them together? Hiring someone to do it for you? (stay tuned for our new Experts for Health Experts section, where we’re hoping to bring you services from experts of the public who can help). This all factors in to cost!

Are you merely recycling a talk that you’ve already successfully delivered? Guess what? Less time involved to just whip out.

Are u preparing special slides? Putting them together? Hiring someone to do it for u? This all factors in to cost! R u merely recycling a talk? It matters! Click To Tweet

 

7. In which medium will your talk be delivered?

If you’re adding yourself into a virtual lineup, it requires much less time out of your day.

You won’t need to ensure you can get to the venue location. No need to hop into a car and drive. And certainly, no need to fly.

Just click into the session and spend your speaking time talking and optimally impacting/connecting!

In which medium will your talk be delivered? If you’re adding yourself into a virtual lineup, it requires much less time out of your day. Click To Tweet

 

8. Will you potentially land clients by speaking, or other gigs?

Consider that possibility in all seriousness.

If, for example, you have a consulting business, and selling a single package results in the same amount as you would have normally asked to speak, it could be worth delivering the talk for less.

Scenarios in which the ROI – the return on your time & effort investment, in this case – could yield a high return are important to consider.

The crucial factor to consider in this situation would be who the audience you’re speaking to is.

If it’s an audience filled with your potential clients, then great!

If it isn’t, then it’s not likely anyone will “convert”, or become interested in what you have to offer.

 

If, for example, you have a consulting business, and selling a single package results in the same amount as you would have normally asked to speak, it could be worth delivering the talk for less. Click To Tweet

 

So you see, there’s more to pricing yourself out for speaking gigs than just money factors.

Don’t be afraid to consider all sides of the equation.

In fact, whip out a good old pen, if you need to (with the evolution of digital space, are those becoming obsolete??), and make a table of pluses and minuses.

On one side, write all of the positives to taking on the speaking event, like:

  • recycled talk, which you’ve done before
  • virtual, so easier to click in
  • other opportunities if you take part
  • CV plumper

 

On the other, write out all of the negatives, like:

  • time out of work and away from your family and regular, fun activities
  • low compensation
  • not the target audience for your business

 

Now compare the two lists and go from there!

 

Most importantly, remember that we’re not all the same.

We each come with our own special sauces and offer up unique skills in our talks.

Ask around for comparison, but take others’ experiences and advice with a grain of salt.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate.

(In fact, if you want a TON of great tips on how to do that well, take a look at our NEGOTIATION series, with David Norris, MD, MBA. It’s produced by SoMeDocs and it’s free)

Allow them to sweeten the deal if you don’t feel like you’re getting enough in return, and get creative! In the world of today, social currency has value (the exposure of taking part in an event, for example, and the possibility for your own online growth, which can lead to new opportunities).

 

Now go & make speaking magic!

Dana Corriel, MD

Dana Corriel, MD

“I haven’t LEFT medicine, I’m simply taking time to tackle its issues from a different angle. I’m stepping out of the traditional medicine box.”

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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