All American Entertainment (AAE), a booking agency, surveyed over 650 event professionals to create The 2022 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, its first-ever industry report. The report offers a snapshot of everything from speaker’s fees to virtual versus in-person events. The report surveyed 540 event organizers and 126 speakers and talent management companies. Here’s a summary of what they found.
- DEI is being prioritized in 2022
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key topics this year. (I’ll add that even if you can’t have a speaker address this topic, your panels need to showcase DEI by their speaker makeup.)
Budget is the most important factor in choosing a speaker right now, said the study. Speaking fees continue to vary between virtual and in-person events. Over 80% of respondents said their event budgets are the same or even higher than they were in 2021. (I’ll add that this makes a good argument for using virtual speakers where you have a better chance of securing them, and for less money, especially when you consider travel and accommodations. Our tech editor, Alfred Poor, reminds me he charges the same fee for speaking virtually and physically. The savings comes from travel expenses for the event planner.)
Event organizers were less likely to care about location, awards and honors, or whether the speakers come from a well-known company—perhaps reflecting our new hybrid reality and a renewed focus on authentic connections in a post-pandemic world. Translation: They need to be storytellers first.
A whopping 84.1% of event organizers are looking for speakers who have experience with virtual event technology.
- Fee Scales
For in-person events, speakers with 10 or more years of experience earned about 54% more—for an average of around $17,300—than those with less than five years of experience. However, that gap closed a bit in the virtual space, where more experienced speakers reportedly earned just 22% more. For virtual events, the average speaking fee in 2021 was $12,799.
- Most Speakers Still Prefer In-person Events
About 24% of event organizers prefer to host the speaker in-person, while around 16% like to host the speaker virtually. Others say it depends on the topic and session and that they’re open to a mix of both in-person and virtual speakers. However, most speakers (over 66%) prefer to present in-person, citing the importance of reading the audience’s body language and energy. About 22% prefer a hybrid format, which they say allows for better accessibility and attendance, and just under 12% prefer virtual.
- The 15-Minute Attention Gap
Most event organizers said in-person speakers can present for 45 minutes to an hour, while virtual presentations should top out at 30-45 minutes, maximum.
Virtual events have a shorter prep timeline when it comes to speakers. With in-person speakers, more than half of event organizers surveyed said they start looking for keynote speakers two to six months before the event, due to the extra challenges and logistics involved in speaker availability and travel. With virtual, most speakers are being booked two to four months in advance.