Incorporating a speaker into your next event is a compelling way to offer relevant content, diverse perspectives and engagement opportunities. The process for booking a speaker can vary depending on their profession and notability, as can their availability and fees. This website will guide you through the process of inviting a speaker to campus.
Note: If you are a Recognized Student Organization, please connect with the Office of Student Activities before contacting any speakers.
Step 1: Determine Event Design and Goals
Before you research speakers, you will need to establish the basic goals and design of your event. Here are some questions to consider:
1. Is the event associated with a specific date, or is there flexibility?
2. What is the goal of the event? What experience are you envisioning for attendees?
3. What topic(s) are you hoping the speaker can address? This information will be important when communicating with potential speakers.
Step 2: Budget
Speaking fees can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Generally, the more known and popular a speaker is, the higher their fee will be. Most agents will offer a fee range for their clients, and we can help you navigate the negotiation process. In addition to speaker fees, you may be required to pay for travel-related costs, including meals, lodging and transportation (car service, airfare, train, etc.). These costs can add up quickly, depending on the location of your speaker. In general, we recommend that you budget $500 to $1,000 for speakers traveling locally (from the Northeast United States) and $1,000 to $1,500 for speakers traveling from farther away.
Step 3: Research the Speaker and Introduce Yourself
Are they represented by an agent? Do they have an assistant? Provide details for your event (dates, purpose, anticipated audience, etc.)
Step 4: Negotiation and Making an Offer
If the speaker is represented by an agency, you will work directly with their agent to determine the speaker’s availability and fee. Most speakers have a range for their fee, even if the agent doesn’t offer this insight.
In many cases, an offer is considered a binding agreement, so don’t submit an offer without carefully reviewing the language and details of the agreement (date, fee, etc.). The contract may also place restrictions on audio and video recording. This is negotiable, but it must be negotiated prior to signing the contract.
Step 5: Execute a Contract
If the speaker is represented by an agency, they will have a contract that you will be required to use. Read this contract carefully. Contracts executed on behalf of Amherst College should be signed only by an authorized individual. If you are unclear who is authorized to sign contracts within your department, contact your chair or supervisor. All high-value contracts should be reviewed by the College’s General Counsel.
Amherst College has a generic contract for speakers who are not represented by an agency or do not have a standard contract. A contract should be executed for all speakers, even those that are not charging a fee. For a copy of the generic speaker contract, please contact the Office of Conferences and Special Events (CASE). In addition to the contract, each speaker should be asked to execute an Audio Video Release Form (also available from CASE), as well as providing a biography, high-resolution photo and W-9 form for payment.
Step 6: Preparing for the Event
For a copy of a generic event planning checklist, please contact the Office of Conferences and Special Events.