What to Charge for Virtual Speaking Events: The Ultimate Guide

“We’d love to have you as a virtual speaker at our event! How much do you charge?”

Even if you are an experienced speaker and know exactly what to charge for an in-person event, that question can send you into a cold sweat.

Knowing what to charge in the virtual world can be tricky, regardless of your experience in the non-virtual world.

Pricing In the Virtual World

In this guide, we’ll discuss the factors you should consider when pricing so that you can land first-time virtual gigs with new clients and create positive relationships that will keep your clients returning time and time again.  

Speakers Starting Out Virtually

If you’ve never spoken to an audience before and are starting your speaking career online, this guide will help you to get started.

While you may think that you can’t charge for talks initially, don’t assume that to be true. Subject matter experts can be in high demand, depending on their area of expertise, industry, and location. You may be able to get a paycheck for your very first presentation!

virtual speakers

Differences When Speaking to Virtual Audiences

For those who have experience with speaking to live audiences, it can help to first understand what’s different about online events vs. in-person events when selecting your new pricing structure for the virtual world.

The Speaker’s Comfort Level

Some speakers naturally feel more comfortable with a live audience.

The feedback that the audience gives through their facial expressions and body language is valuable information that the speaker can use to adjust their message in real-time.

For speakers who are used to being in tune with their audience in this way, virtual speaking can present a challenge.

The Audience’s Mindset

Audiences come to virtual events with different mindsets than when in person.

For some, the convenience of not needing to find parking or a babysitter, for example, can cause them to approach the event with a grateful attitude. They are just happy to be able to participate!

Others might find it easier to become distracted compared to in-person events and they may only be attentive for part of your presentation.

Some may be frustrated about not having the full experience of an in-person event.

virtual audience
virtual speakers

Your Introduction

At an in-person event, you will often have someone to introduce you, whether it be an emcee, Master of Ceremonies, or organizer of the event.

Your introduction serves to warm up the audience and to establish your credentials for this presentation.

At a virtual event, you may not have someone to fill that role and if that is the case, you must decide how you will establish your credibility and build rapport with your audience without the influence of one of their associates.

Virtual Event Moderators

Because of the unique limitations and opportunities of presenting in a virtual world, you may solicit the help of a role player that is less common for in-person events: a moderator.

Moderators can handle the technical aspects of your event, such as troubleshooting technical difficulties for both you and the attendees, ensuring that participants’ audio is muted, and preventing unwanted outsiders from “bombing” your event. 

During your presentation, moderators can provide invaluable assistance to you by monitoring your chat window so you can focus on your presentation.

The moderator may answer the questions in the chat window directly, publish them to the entire group, or pass them on to you for an answer.

In some cases, you may choose to have the moderator make a list of questions from attendees for you to answer later in a Q&A session. 

What you need your moderator to handle will depend upon many factors, such as the type of presentation you are giving, the platform you are using, and the number of attendees online.

Regardless of your situation, hiring a skillful moderator will ease your stress and take the quality of your event to the next level.


Keeping Their Attention

At virtual events, you need to be able to adjust your energy in order to get and keep the audience’s attention. It will be more difficult to engage the audience, especially when you might have to depend on chat boxes and “Like” buttons for assessing the audience’s engagement.

You will likely not get a full sense of the audience’s reactions until you can review their comments after the event. You may realize that you made major blunders with an audience only after it’s too late to fix them.

As was previously mentioned, having an experienced moderator can aid you in reading the audience in real time, so you can avoid any significant missteps. A moderator can be your eyes and ears during the presentation and can alert you to any issues that arise or guide you if adjustments are in order.

Technological Challenges

A major difference with online events is that you are in charge of your technology. This could be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your equipment and your skill in running it. Here, too, a moderator can be beneficial by removing some of the technological details surrounding the event. 

While you may be used to handling some aspects of your setup, like making sure your presentation slides work on your computer, most venues control other aspects, like the audio system. You will need to consider those elements when you go virtual. Issues as fundamental as whether your internet connection is stable can present challenges in the virtual world.

virtual speaker

Virtual and in-person events have similarities, but their differences are notable and understanding them is critical to establishing a price that reflects your value in the marketplace.

Factors that Affect Pricing

Whether you’re dealing with live or virtual audiences, how much you can charge is not set in stone and can sometimes be difficult to assess. There are many factors that affect pricing and you should consider all of them, whether they initially seem to apply to your situation or not.

Your Experience Level

The most widely referenced factor to consider when determining a pricing strategy is how much speaking experience you have overall.

For most speakers, both in-person and virtual, fees tend to be modest in the beginning. As you do more speaking, your skills will improve and, over time, you can raise your fees.

Beyond that, though, there are no hard-and-fast rules linking experience with pay because of the other factors we will mention, below.

In a section to follow (see Flat Fee Guidelines Based on Experience), we will provide some ballpark estimates based on experience, which you will need to adjust based on the other criteria that apply to your situation.

Your Perceived Value in the Market

Of paramount importance when choosing a pricing strategy is your perceived value in the market. Your perceived value is a combination of many elements, such as your marketing materials, your reputation, and your involvement in social media.

Tangible considerations for your perceived value can be numerous:

  • Do you have a website? How professional is it?
  • How credible are you as a virtual speaker?
  • What is your reputation, both in your industry and in the speaking world?
  • Do you have persuasive testimonials?
  • Do your marketing materials prominently display logos of companies you’ve served?
  • Do you have samples of yourself speaking (i.e., a “speaker reel”)?
  • Are you active on social media?
  • How large is your active audience (including those on social media)?
  • How often do you produce new content on your social media channels?
  • Have you written a book (or several) and how popular is it?
  • What is the lasting impact that your message will have on your audience?
  • Do you have excellent skills on stage and/or in the virtual medium as a speaker?
  • Are you personally fun, compelling, or unique in a way that comes across on the stage?

To gain an insight into your perceived value, imagine that you are an outsider looking in.

What do your marketing materials say about you? What do your clients say about you? If you were an event planner, would you hire you based on your marketing, skills, and reputation?

market value

Supply and Demand in Your Market

As with all goods and services, supply and demand will play a considerable role in how much you can charge at any given time.

Questions you need to ask to determine the economic relevance of your pricing strategy include these:

  • How in demand is your subject matter?
  • How many other active speakers within this subject are you competing against?
  • What are the budgets of clients in this industry and market?

Despite the aforementioned factors of supply and demand, one factor stands out as critical to your success: How badly do you want to be a virtual speaker and what are you willing to do to increase your earnings?

Just as in any other industry, speakers who pound the pavement, connect with potential clients, and close the sale are the ones that can charge higher fees.

Unless you are at the point where event planners are approaching you with gigs on a regular basis, you will need to hustle to keep a steady stream of business at the price point you’re seeking.

The Problem You Solve

Every virtual speaker – in fact, every business – needs to solve a problem in order to be profitable.

What is the problem you solve for your audience? How much value are you bringing to your clients?

For instance, if a particular client keeps operating in the same way and it costs them $100K to do so, but you’re only charging them $10K for a solution that fixes that problem, then they are getting $90K worth of value if they hire you.

It is not always possible to put a value on your message in that way, but when you can, it gives you a great deal of leverage, especially when you are requesting fees in the higher ranges.

event message

Number of Attendees

Because your client’s budget will increase with the size of the audience, so should your fee increase based on the size of the audience. The reason is not only based on your client’s budget, however.

The larger the audience, the more people who are getting value from what you are presenting. Value is what allows you to demand a higher fee. 

Geographic Location

Although the cost of running an online platform is only minimally affected by location, there are elements of doing business for which costs are quite disparate based on location.

An organization in Los Angeles, for example, is likely to have a higher budget for a virtual speaker than one in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If the organization is hiring their support staff locally, that will affect their bottom line, as well.

Type of Speaking Engagement

The price you can charge will vary based on the type of event.

Virtual conferences can bring in significant revenue, and this income can be passed on to the speakers.

Virtual summits tend to be offered to increase audiences rather than as revenue generators and as such, speakers get paid only a small stipend, if anything.

virtual speaker

Virtual workshops, virtual educational events, and virtual training sessions may be run at various price points, depending on the context.

Other types of presentations, such as keynotes, motivational speeches, and even one-on-one coaching have wide variations in the price that a speaker can command.

Types of Virtual Speaking Engagements

  • Summits
  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Discussion Panels
  • Lunch & Learns
  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Coaching
  • Training

Fee Models

There are a few models which you can choose from to determine your fee for any particular speaking engagement. You may choose to use only one or you can vary them as needed to suit your particular situation.

Flat Fee

Arguably the most common method for determining a price to charge, especially for beginning speakers, is to use the Flat Fee model. Just as the name implies, in the Flat Fee model, the speaker quotes a single price for the entire presentation or event.

Per Person

Another often used model for pricing is the Per Person model. It works just as you might expect: The speaker charges a set fee per attendee. A variant of the strict Per Person model is to charge per person but in a tiered fashion so that the price is adjusted at some threshold of, say, 25 people.

Loss Leader

The Loss Leader model is used in situations where the speaker expects to gain sales of goods or services.

To take advantage of this model, you charge less than your value so you can present your message, but in return you are given the opportunity to market something else, such as a book or coaching services.

Speaking for a lesser cost (or possibly even no charge) is often used by professionals who are likely to be hired by the attendees. This model works well for accountants, lawyers, coaches, physicians, and even for IT professionals.

Flat Fee Guidelines Based on Experience

In order to know what to charge for a virtual presentation, it helps to understand Flat Fee ranges for in-person speaking engagements (without consideration of travel costs).

The chart below lists generally accepted fee ranges for a single in-person gig, with descriptions of the levels and types of speakers at each level. It is provided to help you understand what is accepted in the non-virtual world, but it is a very rough guide of what to expect in the virtual world.

Even experts who might normally be able to charge $20K for an in-person speaking gig might be interested in delivering an identical presentation for $500 in order to achieve new marketing goals or to build a virtual audience.

When examining the chart below it is important to note that an in-person speaker need not fit into both categories to charge within the given range.

For example, a scientist who has done important research might be able to get the same price as a speaker in an “experienced” category, even though he or she might not be a technically proficient speaker.

PriceSpeaker LevelTypes of Speakers
no monetary compensationAny- Any, but especially domain experts who can monetize by offering their products or services at the end of a virtual speaking event.
$500-$1000Beginner- Those who have done few paid gigs
$1000-$2500Beginner - mid- Those who serve smaller audiences
$2500-$5000Mid- Those who present on a subject matter that is not in high demand
$5000- $10KMid- “Serious” speakers
- Those that have written one book
$10K-$20KExperienced- Those that have written several books
Those with “social proof”
$20K-$75KVery experienced- Best-selling authors
Politicians (including former)
$75K-$150KVery experienced- Celebrities
- Famous authors (e.g., Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Dan Pink)
- High Profile Executives
$250K+Very experienced- Very popular celebrities
- Former Presidents and Heads of State (e.g., Bill and Hilary Clinton, Tony Blair)

Chart 1. Flat Fee Guidelines for Non-Virtual Presentations

These ranges are fuzzy, although there are some fairly well-agreed upon demarcations within the speaking industry.

Beginning in-person speakers that are not in-demand subject matter experts should not charge above $5000 per presentation

Nick Morgan, a top speaking coach and author of the book “Power Cues,” stated in a Forbes article that $5000 is the lower end of what “serious” in-person speakers charge.

Anything over $10K would be reserved for well-known speakers in the non-virtual world or best-selling authors. Higher numbers, especially those in the six-figure range, would be reserved only for celebrities and high ranking politicians, such as former presidents.


As yet we have not addressed the subject of speaking without monetary compensation, you may have noticed from the chart that this fee level includes speakers at all levels and types. This may be surprising to some, so in the next section, we will cover many of the considerations about unpaid speaking gigs.

Speaking Without Monetary Compensation

At some point in your career, you will likely be asked to speak without monetary compensation.

Should you do it? Some virtual speakers would respond emphatically “No!” Their philosophy is that all speakers deserve to be paid, all the time.

Although it’s true that all speakers’ time and energy is valuable, there are many reasons why even very experienced speakers might choose to speak without monetary compensation from the event organizers.

Reasons NOT To Speak Without Monetary Compensation

As was just mentioned, the primary reason you might never offer your services without monetary compensation is that you have a personal or business philosophy that precludes it. That decision is not right or wrong and it is yours alone to make.

A secondary reason you might not want to speak without being paid by the event organizer is because some clients or event planners might not understand the value of doing so.

As such, they could view you as less valuable relative to other virtual speakers. They might also not be able to accept your cost at a later date and choose not to hire you for pay in the future.

Reasons To Speak Without Monetary Compensation

Despite what may feel like compelling reasons to never speak without pay, there are also a number of compelling reasons for doing so.

Audience or Client Exposure

One of the most compelling reasons why you might decide to speak without charging a fee has to do with getting future engagements.

Is the audience for this particular event your target audience? Are they folks who might hire you professionally, follow you on social media, or otherwise enable you to reach an even larger, paying audience later? Will there be a person or persons in the audience who has the ability to hire you later, perhaps at a much higher price, or on a recurring basis?

Marketing Materials               

A hurdle for beginning speakers can be developing a “speaker reel,” which is a collection of video snippets that showcases the speaker’s abilities.

In the non-virtual world, these reels might be created in a studio in front of a green screen or at an event with a live audience.

If you know that the event coordinator will have a professional video recording service available, you may be able to negotiate to get raw footage of your presentation in exchange for your services.

Virtual speakers have even more options in addition to those culled from in-person events. A notable opportunity is to record actual events on the speaker’s virtual platform of choice.

The popular Zoom platform, for example, provides a conspicuous “Record” button that with one click captures the event as configured on the speaker’s computer. GoTo Meeting, Skype, and other platforms have similar functionality for you to make recordings to showcase your skills as a virtual speaker.

Often speakers will hire a production company to combine footage from several events into a single reel, perhaps even including some secondary B-roll footage for variety or to highlight the speaker’s core message.

Acquiring raw footage to create a speaker’s reel, whether done at an in-person event or online, can be challenging and is one of the primary reasons that a newer speaker might choose to deliver an unpaid presentation (or several).

Selling Products or Services

Virtual speakers whose primary business is not speaking will often speak without monetary compensation in order to sell other products or services.

This not only includes professional services, such as accountancy, finance, legal, and technology, but it also includes services such as coaching and online subscriptions.

Book authors will often choose to appear at no cost in order to gain exposure for their books, particularly when a new book is forthcoming or has just been released.

virtual speaker selling

Developing New Material 

Even the most seasoned virtual speakers will want to modify their material from time to time and if the change promises to be dramatic, a speaker may choose to “test” the material on an audience.

While some speakers can do this while charging their usual fees, newer virtual speakers and those who feel uncomfortable doing so (e.g., because they are offering less value to the client) may wish to try out their new material by offering an unpaid gig to a client.

Contributing to a Cause

If the organization you are speaking to is a charity or non-profit for a cause that you feel strongly about, you may wish to speak as a gift or donation to the cause.

Your philanthropy need not be reserved only for non-profits, however. Perhaps you have a friend or associate whose business could be served by your message or by contributing to an event (such as a Virtual Summit). In addition to being a benevolent gesture, offerings of this kind build relationships that are mutually beneficial to both parties.

Regardless of your choice about whether to ever speak without monetary compensation, the most important thing is to understand why you are making that choice.

If you choose to speak for non-monetary benefits, make sure that your client understands why you are making that choice, as well. Set their expectations appropriately, in case you decide to charge them a fee at a later date.

You also want to prevent clients from recommending you to another client with the assumption that you always speak without monetary compensation (unless that’s true, of course).

One action you can take if you normally don’t offer complimentary services but choose to do so in a specific situation is to send your client an invoice with the full amount listed, along with a line item showing the (100%) discounted fee.

This should make it clear to the client that you offered them a limited deal and allow them to see exactly what the monetary value was of the gift you gave them.


Adjusting Your Price for the Virtual World

There are two schools of thought on how to price your presentations in the virtual world as compared to traditional in-person gigs.

Some virtual presenters suggest that you charge the same amount as you would if you were speaking in person because the value you give to the client is that same.

The prevailing opinion in the community, however, is that you should adjust your price downward for speaking in the virtual world.

How much should you adjust?

Many virtual speakers say they earn only 40-50% for a virtual presentation compared to what they would earn for a regular, in-person presentation.

Erick Rheam, a professional public speaker and author, decided to charge only 25% of his regular fees when he started creating virtual presentations for his clients.

He recommends pricing yourself “low enough” so that your client won’t be disappointed if things don’t go well.

What if my first virtual presentation is a disaster? Anytime we start a new venture, whether it be speaking in public or learning to cook, we will make mistakes. At some point you will blow it and that’s part of the process.

As you learn more, though, you won’t make the same mistakes – or, at least, won’t make them as often. Charge accordingly. In the beginning, you might charge less, but as you grow more skillful, you can command a higher price for your work. 

virtual speaker

Tips for Newbies in the Virtual Speaking World

Whether you’ve been speaking for decades or are ready to perform your first paid gig, there are some tips to keep in mind when determining what to charge when your presentations are online:

Don’t Overcharge in the Beginning

Though you may be anxious for your virtual speaking efforts to pay off financially, resist the urge to charge at the limit of what you think your clients will pay.

Allow yourself (and your clients) some breathing room. It’s much better to forego some of the fee you could have made as an insurance policy against things not going as planned.

You’ll make up that difference and then some with the repeat business you’ll gain by charging slightly below what you could in the beginning.

Trust Your Gut

Even if you feel that you have no idea what the “right” price is in this new, virtual world, trust your gut, anyway.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of a client or event planner and “try on” different prices. How would you as the event planner react to various numbers that you’re considering throwing out to your clients as your fee?

Charge a Premium for Recordings

Clients may ask if they can record your presentation and replay it later. This is especially easy to do in the virtual world and some clients may not even ask your permission before doing so. You should communicate with your clients beforehand and establish your price based on whether a recording will be used later.

In his discussion of how he got started speaking virtually, Erick Rheam stated that his non-recording cost was 17% of his usual fees and that value jumped to 25% for clients who wished to record and replay his presentations. His numbers were arbitrary, he said, and he didn’t attempt to offer a tangible reason for choosing them.

You may also find that you have to simply “choose a number” until you get experience with pricing in this new world.

Consider Your (non-)Expenses

In the non-virtual world, travel expenses can increase the cost of doing business considerably. While you obviously will never have to worry about that in the virtual speaking world, consider it and other intangibles that might permit you to reasonably ask for a lowered fee.

Not having to travel decreases the wear-and-tear on you, even to the extent that you will likely remain healthier and have fewer medical expenses.

Eating at home could make you healthier, as well. You might not need to have as many professional outfits and perhaps you can dry clean those you do have less often.

You can probably think of other ways in which your expenses will lessen from your speaking-at-home arrangement.

Most importantly, perhaps, what is the price that you can put on being able to be home at night and tuck in your little ones? What about getting to share quality time with your spouse instead of sitting in a hotel room?

Time spent with family or friends makes us happier and can even extend our lives.


Understand Your Market

Just as in the non-virtual world, it’s important to understand the factors related to the specifics of your marketplace. Assessing supply and demand, knowing your competition, and realizing what problem(s) you solve for your clients are all critical to pricing your presentations accurately.

Putting It All Together

Pricing in the virtual market depends on a number of factors. No one can tell you exactly what to charge, even though some factors can be reasonably identified. Considering the more tangible characteristics of you and your business, it is possible for you to determine at least a baseline value to charge. 

Your beginning “baseline” should be an amount that you feel comfortable charging. As you seek out speaking engagements and talk to event planners, you can adjust your price based on the demand (or lack thereof) that you receive.

Ultimately, your pricing decision will need to be made in conjunction with how many presentations you want to make per year. The lower your price, the more likely you will be to receive inquiries from event planners.

If you’re unsure what speaking fee to charge for your virtual events, let Virtual Speakers Organization help.

Our pricing calculator will guide you with questions to help you feel confident about setting a price in the virtual speaking world.

You will never again have to end up in a cold sweat, deciding what to charge. Instead, you can spend your valuable time and energy focusing on your presentation, not your compensation.

Find The Top Virtual Speakers

Virtual Speakers Organization is an exclusive network of the best virtual speakers in the world. Top event planners book our virtual speakers for all kinds of online events.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram