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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  November 15, 2016

How Professional Speakers Get High Speaking Fees

How Professional Speakers Get High Speaking Fees

Blinding flash of the obvious: The 2008 economic meltdown tanked speaker fees.

Or did it?

Yes, many associations slashed speaker fees. There are two reasons why:

  1. To boost their reduced budgets
  2. Because many talented speakers accepted the lower rate

What I’ve found, though, is buyers will pay for speakers they really want.

Exhibit A: Nia Joynson-Romanzina. I met Nia at Harvard University, and after a stimulating conversation about the speaking industry, she hired me to position her speaking for high fees. My analysis found a hole in the market around which we built her platform.

Result: Nia was approached with your typical “free panel discussion” offer from an industry association. Instead of taking the opportunity, she talked about her focus and the impact. She asked for the keynote slot. They said “sure” and asked about her fee. She told them. Their response: I think we can find that money somewhere.


Listen: Nia’s story in her own words


The first step to getting top speaking fees is to look past the initial request. Instead of responding to a yes/no construct, have a conversation and show (not tell) how your approach would fit another slot better. When buyers get excited about your perspective, the money just magically appears.


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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.