What is the average public speaking salary and how can high can it go?
The good and bad news: the average salary of a public speaker isn’t fixed
Trying to bring together the concept of salary and the act of public speaking into a coherent sentence is pretty tough as most speakers are not employed on a full-time contract. In most cases, they in hired for a one-off event, or job. Whilst it’s possible to give multiple speeches to the same group, organization or company over time the jobs are still one-time only i.e. there’s no guarantee you’ll be called back to another speaking slot.
Does the type of public speaking affect pay?
Yes, the type of speech you specialize in affects the amount you’re paid. Speaking on topics that motivate people to advance in life and adopt new and more positive viewpoints is the best-paid and most common form of speech we hear. If you’re in any doubt, take a look at YouTube where you’ll find more motivational speakers than you can shake a leadership group at! Here’s a quick overview of the 4 types of speaking? and accompanying salaries:
Of all the salaries reported, motivational speaking is the king of speech giving, but is it the best paid? Most speakers who dwell here have achieved something of note or worth which allows them to bring their experiences to an audience. Pay for this type of speaker can reach $300,000, and more. The key to becoming an in-demand motivational speaker is to have a compelling story (this is covered on the 4 types of the public speaking page linked above), one that usually involves overcoming hardship. The highest-paid motivational public speakers in the world include names such as Brene Brown and Tony Robbins.
Educational public speakers can astronomical sums of money and they leverage in-demand skills. At the top of this category are the likes of Myron Golden, a marketer who reputedly earns in the region of $3 million. Per month. Yes, per month. Myron’s background in sales and the skill with which he wields words is legendary.
This type of speaker is in big demand because people want to learn from them, in part because they want the secrets of wealth accumulation and money-making revealed to them. To succeed in the education category you’ll need to have skills that people are willing to pay to learn including marketing, sales, and persuasion techniques.
Informative public speakers talk about events, locations, people and ideas. And, although it would be easy to categorize these speeches as educational that would be wrong. The type of information you present in an informative speech is often designed to make the audience of a given set of circumstances, and some of the less obvious speakers in this niche include Plato, Socrates, and the President of the USA when they give their State of the Union address.
A good informative speaker can earn upwards of $100,000 per year.
A persuasive public speaker’s job is to persuade you that their argument or viewpoint is correct. These talks have a strong emotional element because we humans are often led by our emotions. Don’t believe me? Head over to YouTube and watch Bob Geldof’s presentation ahead of the very first Band Aid concert in which he shows images of starving children in Africa – that’s powerful.
If you’re interested in becoming a persuasive public speaker you need to have a solid case for your speech – anything less than watertight and your speech was nosedive into the audience… and you probably won’t be invited back.
A good persuasive speaker can earn $500+ from each presentation as a beginner, and the numbers go up with experience.
So what is the average salary?
The average salary – across all types of speaking and factoring in experience – is $36,000 per year. Now that might seem like a small amount of money to some, but you have to remember the range of earnings spans people giving free talks to orators earning millions per year. Moreover, when you look at that figure it’s fair to say it would keep all but the most extravagant in food and clothes.
Does the length of speech affect the pay rate?
No, the length of a talk or speech doesn’t necessarily affect the amount you earn. A prime example of this is the former athlete who will earn $10,000 for a short 10 motivational talk versus a rookie informative talker who is paid $500 for an hour-long presentation.
What affects the amount is earn includes:
fame. If you’re famous then people are going to pay more to hear you speak;
skills. The more in demand your skills, especially those that help people make money, the more you’ll be paid to speak;
story. If you have a powerful story that motivates others to excel in life and work, especially a tale of zero to hero or extreme hardship, the more you’ll be paid to speak.
Which type of speaking should I choose?
This is a question I don’t have a direct answer for, but I can give you a few tips to help choose your niche, grow your confidence as a speaker and increase your fees.
Find your area of expertise as a speaker.
Early in this post, I mentioned the 4 types of speech and whilst these aren’t the entire list of options they are a good starting point. The easiest way to find a topic to talk about is by examining your own life and asking what stories people will be interested in hearing. And right now you’re probably thinking, “I’ve done nothing with my life, what can I talk about?”
I’ve heard motivational speakers, but how do I compare to them?
But you have done so much and made many achievements that people want to hear about. Here are a few examples:
you’ve climbed Everest and almost died after getting lost in a storm, but managed to find your way back to your teammates… minus a few fingers. This has happened on more than one occasion and those survivors have amazing stories to tell;
you’ve overcome a condition such as ADHD to make a huge success in the world of business;
you’ve learned the secret to true happiness…
you overcame your crippling fear of public speaking to give the speech you’re giving right here, right now.
you can give people advice on building a successful career because you’ve had multiple jobs in your life (honestly, this is one area where many people can offer wisdom. Showing people their current job is likely not forever and offering thoughts on how to progress through a series of jobs during their lifetime is invaluable).
you own, owned, a successful business and can help startups grow. This is a tried and tested route for many a former business owner, even someone who aspires to keep it small. Your options beyond talking include training and support for budding entrepreneurs.
Some of those examples are pretty extreme, but that last one… well, you can do it. Really, you can.
Achievements are in the eye of the beholder and even if you think you’ve never reached the pinnacle of ‘success’, there are 100s, maybe 1000s, of people and companies who want to hear about your quest, including failures. And whilst you’re here I highly recommend you read my post about how failing can make you a success (a bit like Elon Musk)
Check out this post for an answer to the question: “What can I teach an audience on a speaking engagement?”
There is no fixed salary for speakers and the avg salary we’ve listed reflects the average amount earned across engagements, or jobs and building a career as a speaker is a challenge. But when you think about it, any job you choose to be the very best requires time, effort and dedication because you’re not in the business of giving talks nobody will remember. This last point is important to remember – go all-in unless you really want your first speaking job to be your last.
Now it’s your turn. You know the public speaking salary varies and have a list of ideas to work from. So do the research needed and start your journey!