What’s the difference between a $6K Speaker and a $20K Speaker?

As a self professed “Left-Brain Creative”, I love to nerd out on stats and charts every now and then (but the creative part of me still has to make it fun!)  As the use of humour is traditionally a very subjective thing, I wanted devise a method to quantify and analyse what was happening when a Professional Speaker used humour to interact with an audience.  


And it’s time to release the findings!  You see, over the past few years I’ve been in research mode and gathering stats on how Professional Speakers interact and engage with their audiences.  Each time I attend a conference, I’ve been recording different types of audience interactions.  I’ve identified 7 key factors of audience interaction that Professional Speakers use.  (I like to call “Laugh Data”.)


The 7 Key Factors of Audience Interaction are:

  • Shareable – a slide that has your Twitter handle or social media address and a quote or key learning on it, where you encourage the audience to take a photo of and post on their social media accounts.
  • Laugh From the Audience
    anytime there is an audible laugh from the audience.
  • Ask for a show of Hands
    asking the audience to raise their hand when you ask a question – ie.  “give me a show of hands who’s satisfied with their current job?  Who wants to improve their life?  Who wants me to be quiet?”
  • Ask for Interaction
    asking the audience to interact with you or others in the room – ie. “Turn to the person next to you and give them a high five”.  “Tell your partner one thing you hope to get out of today.” “Write this down…”
  • Ask a Question
    asking a question directly to the audience that you want them to consider, but they don’t have to show their hands – ie. “What sort of impact is this having in your life?”  “Are you going to do anything about it?”  “When will you start taking action?”
  • Audience Clapping
    anytime there is audible clapping from the audience.
  • Quote a Quote
    when you say or show on screen a specific quote from a famous or noteworthy person.


The interesting pattern that I have started to see, is that higher paid Speakers and Presenters are getting much more interaction with their audiences than those who are charging lower speaking fees.  Obviously the quality and content has to be there first, but it appears that if you get more laughs and audience interaction you get paid more.  


Below are some charts for you to see for yourself.  These graphs represent the first 5 minutes of a presentation.  The time in minutes is listed across the bottom of the chart and each interaction is plotted at the time that it occurred.  


Note: the recordings I have used below included an introduction from the MC, so that is why the first few columns are blank.  The blue arrow indicates the start of the Speaker’s presentation.  The charts contain real data are intended to be a pictorial representation of what occurred during the Speakers opening 5 minutes.


Above: This Professional Speaker is registered with an Speakers Bureau and charges $6000 per keynote.


Above: This Professional Speaker is a PSA accredited CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and charges $6000 per keynote.

Above:This Professional Speaker is a PSA accredited CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and charges $20,000 – $30,000 per keynote.


Above:This Professional Speaker is a PSA accredited CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and charges $18,000 – $22,000 per keynote.

Above:This Professional Speaker is a PSA accredited CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and charges $20,000 -$25,000 per keynote.

As you can see from the Laugh Data in the above charts there is a distinct difference in the number of interactions between a Speaker who is charging $6000 per keynote and a Speaker charging $20,000 per keynote.  So my tip if you want to start increasing your fees is to start working on getting more laughs and interaction with your audience.


Other articles you might be interested in:

One quick tip to help you get a laugh from your audience

If you look at most comedians around the globe, they aren’t telling jokes are they? You may not have noticed (until now), but they are all doing pretty much the same thing.  It may appear different because Comedians bring their own style to the stage, but if you study them closely and break it down to the most basic form – they are just…  Continue Reading…