How to Find a Great Keynote Speaker on a Budget

If you’re engaged in association management, you know how challenging it can be to execute a conference or tradeshow when you’re working with a tight budget. Specifically, finding an excellent keynote speaker that doesn’t break your association’s budget is often easier said than done. Good news: finding the best keynote speaker for your event is achievable sans the headache. Here are tips to help you source a great keynote speaker without going over budget.


1. Use Your Resources

One of the first things you can do to secure a good speaker is to work with a speaker’s bureau. If you wish to outsource the research, look no further. As long as you know your budget and what you are looking for, they will be able to quickly identify a list of those that meet your need both for content and for the budget.

Another option is to network and call on your current connections for speaker recommendations. You can get to know speakers by attending various industry events and visiting venues. Reach out to meeting planners from other organizations and ask for recommendations for who they have hired for their events. You should also reach out to volunteers for their recommendations. Already engaged in the association’s event, they can expertly advise you on who’d they like to hear or have already heard at other industry events.


 2Always Negotiate

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If a speaker is out of your price range, always try to negotiate because typically, there is some wiggle room. For instance, if you know of any other organizations holding a conference, you can book their speaker right before, during or after that event. They might be willing to negotiate since they will already be in town!

Another negotiating tactic is to offer incentives so that the speaker will be more likely to come down on their price. One option is offering to let them sell their books after their session or by proposing complimentary exhibit space in the showcase in exchange for a lower price. Additionally, if you are organizing several events or working with multiple clients, speakers are willing to work with you on the price if they can commit to multiple engagements.


3. Things to Consider 

Remember that there are costs associated with booking a speaker for your event. Don’t forget to find out what potential travel costs they would like covered. Is it airfare, mileage, parking, hotel stays, food and beverage? Put a cap on the fees that you cover, for example offering airfare up to $500, a two-night hotel stay, and $25 per day for food and beverage. Do they have specific AV needs? Will their handouts need to be printed beforehand? These are components you have to take into account because it can potentially come out of your budget.

As you search for a good keynote speaker, keep in mind your audience and book a professional accordingly. Knowing your audience is the key ingredient to selecting the right speaker for an event. No matter your budget or their fee, if they do not resonate with the attendees then you have wasted money booking them.


In your zealous attempt to find a budget-friendly speaker, remember not to lose sight of what’s important. As the meeting professional, it’s your job to produce an event that satisfies both your association and the attendees. By utilizing the resources and connections you already have in addition to implementing some of these major money savers, you will find the perfect keynote speaker for your event that both your association and your attendees will approve of.