Maybe you’re still waiting for that TEDx logo on your website or the New York Times Bestseller before ‘making it’ in the speaking business. Not having all those credibility logos is why you’re not making the high speaking fees you deserve, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

Credentials have nothing to do with what someone is willing to pay you for your talk. After more than 8,000 sales calls, we’ve learned that driving higher fees starts long before we ever get a buyer on the phone.

High Fee Skill #1: Delivering On Promises

Most speakers, if they market at all, blast out an email or two and wonder why their phone isn’t ringing. They’re missing a key element we found is the first step in driving high fees, and it’s also something sorely lacking in today’s business world:


The last thing we do with every piece of communication – whether it’s letter, card, phone, email or LinkedIn, is state when our team will be in touch to follow-up and what method we’ll be using. Of course, when we say we are going to reach out or follow up on a certain date, it is vital that we do so. By constantly engaging and following through, we create continuity in our conversation, make a promise and deliver on it, and make decision makers understand we have a vested interest not just in us – but in the success of their event.

High Fee Skill #2: Customizing Content

One of the worst things that can happen for a speaker’s career – and future fees – is when a decision maker hears from their audience: “Where the heck did you find this guy? He knows nothing about our industry!”

Conducting interviews with audience members prior to an event can help us go beyond a keynote simply filled with buzzwords. By asking questions that build out the bullet points of our talk, we are able to integrate pain points and challenges that individuals in that audience are facing, making our keynotes relatable. This can be done with contacting a random sampling of attendees months prior to the event itself or with the help of the organization’s board members/executives.

When we can say to a decision maker, “We regularly build between 50 and 60 customized references in our hour-long keynote,” we prove to them they are not getting a run-of-the-mill speaker. Instead, decision makers see they are making an investment in someone who spends a lot of time learning about the industry. It’s a massive selling point during sales negotiations that puts you in a class above even celebrity speakers.

High Fee Skill #3: Don’t Just Hit It and Quit It

After we get back home, it’s vital to follow-up with the decision maker. While some speakers hit it and quit it, that’s not the style of a professional.

While we’re doing a pre-event call (sometimes months prior to actual talk), we book time on everyone’s calendar after the event for what we call an After-Action Review. During that call, we discuss the quality of the keynote by sharing metrics of opt-ins, laugh lines and how many customizations we delivered.

Even after the event is complete, we show them the fee they paid was not just for a keynote – it was for a partnership to help them achieve their goals.

That’s what being a high-fee speaker is all about.

Do This Now To Increase Your Fees:

-Incorporate promises into every letter, note, email or phone message you send to people that can hire you. Make promises and deliver on them.
-Map out the bullets of your talk and ask yourself, “If I was building the knowledge I’m delivering in that bullet specifically for the folks in my next audience, what specifics about their jobs and lives would I need to know?” Get on the phone, get contact information for the folks in the audience, and ask them!
-Schedule after-action calls before your events (you drop to the bottom of the priority list the minute you step off stage, so get these scheduled early). That’s the time to go over the objective metrics you tracked and hear from your buyers – “Did I achieve what you brought me in to achieve?” and “If we did it all again, what would you like me to have done more, better or differently?” are GREAT questions to show them you were worth every penny they paid – and make you worthy of their referrals.

Shawn Rhodes, CEO Shoshin Consulting
(813) 833-5059