Guest Speaker Fees- How Much Should I Charge?

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Christopher D. Sciullo
Owner: Short Powerful

It’s important to know how much you should charge as a guest speaker. The fees can vary greatly, depending on a host of factors. A speaker’s value is a combination of their expertise, reputation, and the size of the audience.

Introduction to Guest Speaker Fees

It’s important to know how much you should charge as a guest speaker. The fees can vary greatly, depending on a host of factors. A speaker’s value is a combination of their expertise, reputation, and the size of the audience. To keep things simple concerning guest speakers, the IRS requires that your church issue a Form 1099-MISC to every guest speaker who receives compensation of $600.00 or more from your church over the course of a year. (Recommended reading: Love Offerings Directly to Pastor Spell IRS Trouble)

Dont be shy to ask guest speakers if they have specific fees or payment guidelines. There is no need to tiptoe around this matter. Pay promptly. Your church should have the check waiting when the speaker arrives. Get the W-9 form and travel expense reimbursement form completed ahead of time as often as possible.

This takes much of the administrative burden off of the guest speaker. Let me explain. If you give an honorarium of $400.00 to a guest speaker and reimburse his/her travel expenses, you will most likely end up having to supply him/her with a Form 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

What Should You Charge as a Lay Speaker?

After 30 Years of being a highly requested Church Lay Speaker, I am no longer able to preach, however, I can impart my knowledge to those looking to deliver a Short Powerful Sermon, while being compensated fairly.

First off, there is nothing wrong with being paid for spreading the Gospel.

A Worker is Worth his Wages.

If you are not a very good Lay Speaker, it will be reflected in your wages.

Let’s talk about Lay Speaker “Wages”.  I used as a rule of thumb, $1.25 Per Person, attending an average service. Most churches have no Fee Structure for Lay Speakers, this can quickly become an awkward conversation. By using a simple $1.25 Per Person Formula, churches with a small membership, (30-60 People a week) spend less than $100 for their services. Larger churches with over 160 People, could expect to pay $200.00 for your Services.

Do you have a $200.00 Sermon in your Pocket?

The key is having a $200.00 Short Powerful Sermon ready to deliver. I have taken Lay Speaker Classes in several denominations. I wanted to share my speaking talent with more than just my home church. The one thing all these classes had in common was the terrible way they show you how to “Structure” a Sermon.

The Harvest is Plentiful, but the Laborers are Few.

There are tons of “Free” sermons available online. For every 100 you download you may find one that you may be able to use. That sounds great until you try to sync up prayers and scripture to your message.

All the Sermons we offer at Short Powerful include the following:

  1. Core Message:

  2. Opening Prayer:

  3. Scripture:

  4. Intercessory Prayer:

  5. The Sermon:

  6. Closing Prayer:

A Good Lay Speaker will take a Leadership Position in the Guest Church for that Sunday, where you are speaking. You will be able to run the entire service since most churches are lost without their regular preachers. Most churches no longer do Altar Calls and even fewer Lay Speaker Classes teach you how to do an Altar Call.

Here is Your In House Promotion Bonus!

The church bulletin is still a staple communications tool in churches today. Once you are Introduced, the Congregation forgets your name and the topic. But if you run your Lay Speaker  “ad” in the program, move people will start to know you and recommend you to other churches in need. On the weekend you are going to speak, put an ad in this weekend’s bulletin. Giving the church secretary your Name, Sermon Topic, New Testament Scripture, Phone Number, and Email, will pay dividends. It’s important to get your Message Out that you are Ready and Able to Speak.

Understanding Your Target Audience

The first thing you should do is to understand your target audience. This will determine the appropriate content and format for the presentation. For instance, a Short Powerful Sermon might be the most effective choice for a Sunday Service. However, an hour-long boring sermon may be higher prices but less effective.

Understanding your target audience is a crucial step in creating a successful sermon. It is important to know the demographics, pain points, and aspirations of your target audience to create sermon that will meet their needs and concerns.

According to most successful speakers, you can define your target audience in six simple steps:

  1. Tap into your existing customers you have spoken for. Take inventory of your current customer list and identify what’s working.
  2. Know your customers’ pain points and aspirations. Pain points are one of the most intimate ways to know your target audience.
  3. Target audience research. Most church regional offices have conducted surveys and focus groups to gather information about your congregations in their region.
  4. Identify your ideal church. Use the information you’ve gathered to create a church member persona of your ideal church.
  5. Evaluate your competition. Look at your competition’s target audience and see how it compares to yours.
  6. Test and refine. Once you’ve defined your audience, test your marketing efforts and see how they perform. Make adjustments as necessary.

It’s important to ask yourself some questions when evaluating your target church audience:

  • Will your target audience really benefit from your sermon?
  • Are there enough people who fit the criteria you are preaching to?
  • Is my target audience accessible, can reach them quickly and effectively

Focus on The Goal of The Sermon

Another consideration is the outcome. Sadly today most churches lack focus or direction. Some have such a poor worship structure that they will leave the entire service on your shoulders. However, Fear Not!

Our Printable Short Powerful Sermons come complete with Prayers, Scripture, and Sermons, all leading to a singular point of focus via the sermon topic. Putting together a complete service has never been easier.

Other Considerations, like Competition

Other factors to consider include the number of attendees and the amount of time the speaker is required to present.

A Local Unpolished Speaker will likely be less expensive than one that is Professional (you). Many Professional Speakers offer discounted or low-cost services to new churches. This is a big mistake.

One of the simplest ways to determine the appropriate fee is to ask a client what he or she is looking for. There are a lot of  church regional offices that will supply a list of guest speakers. They can even help to define a budget.

Be sure to request that the churches contact the regional offices and give them a review after your service. If you follow the outline printed by the Short Powerful Sermon, you should get rave reviews. The better the reviews the more you can charge. Don’t be upset of the review includes some pushback on your Fee. Getting your name and more importantly your fee into the head of the regional church staff is free promotion.

Your Short Powerful Sermon has Value!

While you should never be forced to work for free, you can always sell products or services to make up for a lower rate. This will help you to earn a respectable amount of money, while filling your calendar.

An Example is a 12 Month Contract. Most churches that have Full Time Ministers give them time off from preaching. For most churches it may only be 1 Sunday a Month. Some churches have a Guest Speaker or Pulpit Supply line item in their budgets.

These Short Powerful Sermons are powerful, inspirational, evangelistic and biblical. Simple Preaching Topics – These sermon outlines are mostly topical in style and for the most part are 3 point sermon outlines. These powerful sermon topics are designed to inform, challenge and edify.

Offer 3 Different Payment Options

  1. A Monthly Payment of $120 a Month.
  2. One Time Payment for 6 Months at $600 a savings of $120 (your fee $100 a month)
  3. One Time Payment for 12 Months at $1200 a Savings of $240 (your fee $100 a month)

Promote the Benefit of a 12 Month Pulpit Supply is that the Church Boards will not have to scramble each month to find a Good Speaker to replace the Full Time Minister.

Ask the church for expectations for pay. Don’t be shy to ask if they have specific fees or payment guidelines. There is no need to tiptoe around this matter. Ask to be paid promptly. The church should have the check waiting when you arrive. Get the W-9 form and travel expense reimbursement form completed ahead of time

The Ultimate Goal

The Goal here is to Fill the entire year with Weekly Speaking Engagements. A Full Time Minster is paid almost $40,000 a year. That over $3300 a month or $760 a week. Ministers in more Rural Areas are paid much less, but still average over $370 a week.

A full calendar, charging 1/2 of the Rural Ministers Fee of  $185 a Service, will get you over $9500 a year

An unpolished amateur speaker will be happy with $75.00 per service. Very few amateur speakers cultivate a Professional Appearance.

I remember one  Guest Speaker we had, reeked off cigarette smoke, her clothes were shabby and her hair was unkept. Her sermon was even worse. She droned on and on about The Lords Prayer as she read her sermon, word for word, from a notepad she had.  She found great humor in the phrase “Lead Us Not into Temptations”, as she thought it was “Lead us SNOT into Temptations”.  A line better suited for Bevis and Butthead, then the Pulpit on Sunday Morning.

Sadly enough, at Church Board Meetings, when Pulpit Supply came up, the 84 Year Old Vice Chairman would bring up her name based on her fee alone. Older, out of touch church boards, will look at The Cost vs The Value. A Younger Church Board will pay up to Half the Full Time Ministers weekly Pay to secure a Professional Speaker.

Speaking engagements are important because they allow you to reach a large audience with your message. Members of the audience who connect with your talk might go on to buy your book or invest in other products or services you offer. How do I book paid speaking engagements? Not everyone can get paid to be a speaker upfront.

Your reasons for booking speaking engagements will influence every other item in this process. Most public speakers get up on stage for one of three reasons:

  1. To Sell Books
  2. Advertise their Services
  3. To Build a Career as a Guest Speaker

In truth, most people are motivated by a little bit of all of these, but that doesn’t matter.

How to Value Your Service

One of the smartest ways to figure out the right fee is to compare it to similar speakers and their offerings. Compare the cost of similar speaking services and see if your proposed price is more or less than the competition.

Another way to figure out the proper fee is to ask yourself if the most appropriate speaking fee is the one that you would be happy to accept. In most cases, the most appropriate rate is the one you choose, but in some cases, you may have to settle for a lesser fee.

Whether you’re planning to become a professional speaker or just want to learn how to speak at your local church or school, there are plenty of resources for learning about the best practices. Be sure to check out the websites of speakers you might admire and compare their accomplishments with your own.

How to calculate your speaking business value?

Additionally, it’s also important to gather data on the income and expense financials, such as revenues, expenses, income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, as well as information on the competitors, and market conditions. It’s also helpful to consult with a business valuation expert or a CPA who can provide a professional opinion on the value of the business.

Responding to Requests to Speak

As a Professional Speaker you should not be afraid to promote yourself. Our Short Powerful Sermons gives many the confidence to approach churches and organizations.

Once contacted by an organization you could send an email to the organizers saying: “Thanks for giving me an opportunity to speak at your  [name event]. Could you please provide some additional information about your expectations for this talk. Plus the budget you have set aside for a speaking fee for this event?”

There are only 3 Scenarios that should come from this type of question:

  1. You agree to the Expectations and Fee. Next Step is to send an Email Confirmation with Full Name and Address. You most likely will be paid by Check, however some churches will pay you via a “Love Offering” which may be a Percentage of the Collection or a Flat Rate taken from the Collection.
  2. You disagree with the Expectations, however the Fee is acceptable. You need to explain what you do. You tell them that you offer a Short Powerful Sermon, often less than 20 Minutes on a Specific Topic and Scripture. Tell them that one of the most comments you receive after the service is “How Good The Sermon Was” and second, “You said more in 15 minutes then most guest speakers say in 1 hour”.  Speak to the Quality of your Sermon not the time. If they demand more, then best bet is to walk away. You’ll thank me later.
  3.  The Fee is just unrealistic. You can try one last attempt to get them move up on their offer. Tell them: “I find your offer kind, however my  normal fee is $150 per Service. (Using the Speaker Fee from your first email) When we first contacted each other about your [event], you stated you Budget set aside for a speaking fee was $XXX.00. My Speaking Fee fell well within those limits. Please re-examine your offer and give my your final best offer. They will either Honor their First Contact Fee, give you a small bump, or have some excuse why they are offering you less the talked about. If the price is still too low send the Cancellation Confirmation.

Way Too Much Asking … Not Enough Celebrating

We suffer from talking too much about the future in our churches … asking people to come to events, join small groups, and volunteer for upcoming outreaches. We need to spend more time celebrating what has happened in the life our churches! Thank donors. Take time out to declare isn’t it great to be a part of us?!

Remember the Holiday Food Drive I talked about in a previous email? Take time to Recognize and Celebrate each church group that pulled resources to make the Holiday better for someone else.

Share any Thank You Messages or Phone calls from the Folks you Helped.

We have at least 4 Short Powerful Sermons on Building a Church that would promote the Idea of Celebrating God’s Good works through us.

Complex Response Systems 

We want to make it easier for “us” so we make our people jump through more hoops than is necessary to sign up for stuff. We should be finding ways to reduce friction for our people … simplify, simplify simplify! Typically that means it’s going to be more work for “us” … but that’s ok … that’s what being in leadership is all about!

By Celebrating Good Deeds, Congregational Members will want to be part of it. They will come forward and want to volunteer for Projects. Some will enjoy the experience some will not.

The Key Here is Not To Judge

Too many times a Volunteer is too scared to leave a project they are not suited for.  I had a Pastor who was freaked out by visiting members in the hospital. Folk on their deathbeds needed to confide in someone that they were ready to go and that they had all final issues taken care of. This was too much for the Pastor who would turn white and run out of the room.

Not everything you ask is alright for everyone. It’s OK to thank a Volunteer for giving it a shot and building them up with Understanding not Begging for them to stay.

Trust in God and He will Supply.

Lousy Visuals

We live in a post-literate society. Your people need you to communicate with them visually. Your messages need compelling images (and video?) to move people to action. Most church leaders think in words and concepts while the people we lead are visual learners … we need to close that gap!

Our Short Powerful Sermons give the speaker openings to interject illustrations from their own life to share.

There are so many Free and Inexpensive Computer Software Programs available to help with Visual Messages. Try projecting your Announcements, Sermon Topics, and Guest Speakers before the service starts. Add some classic hymns or popular contemporary songs to engage your members as they file in.


This is a serious pet peeve of mine … acronyms are total “insider language”. They aren’t friendly to the people we are trying to lead. They are used by the “in” people to have a “code language” that can’t be understood by outsiders … acronyms make us feel great but make new people feel left out. (Similar … “cool” program names that aren’t self-evident. It’s cool that your kid’s program is called Nirmātā Land … but the fact that you need to constantly explain that it means Creator Land in Nepalese is sideways energy and confuses outsiders.) Nuff said about that.

You will never find Acronyms in a Short Powerful Sermon.  Just Inspiring Prayers, New Testament Scripture, and a Short Powerful Sermon inspiring your Congregation.

Give us a Try. I hope you like us.

You’re Passionate … They’re Not

We’re called to shepherd and lead the people that we serve. By definition, the shepherd is more passionate and knowledgeable than the sheep. Stop assuming that your people care about what is happening at your church. Don’t whine that people aren’t joining your ministry approach … it’s our job to raise our programs in their priorities. They don’t come to it passionately… our role is to lead them there … to shepherd them.

Inspire Your Flock to Become Passionate on Their Own

By using Short Powerful Sermons, with a Singular Message will reach more members than the “Machine Gun of Scripture” ever will.

One guest speaker, in our area, lay speaker classes, was a fella who was called “The Machine Gun of Scripture”. He thought the only way to reach the congregation was to buckshot them with scripture. “Something is bound to hit the target”, he thought.

Inspiring is not Challenging

Inspiring your audience to action, big or small is something they can do Internally. Examples are: be less Judgmental, Say you are Sorry, Ask for Forgiveness, and Forgive others. These 4 simple points are inspiring and can be achieved.

Challenging someone to be less Judgmental makes you Judgmental.  Challenging your audience to Say they are Sorry, Ask for Forgiveness, and Forgive others, puts you in a position of authority over your audience,

Humility  has the Power to Inspire

Never once did Christ put himself above others. Once you put yourself above others you will find it harder to serve them. Humility Inspires Leadership. Once a person complimented my mother. She said that she wanted her son to have the same faith and sense of kindness that I have. What great thing did I do?

While working at a local Pizza Shop a kid came in to pick up a Pizza for his Birthday. When he started to leave with the Pizza it started to rain. I grabbed the umbrella someone had left in the shop and held it over his head to his house.

I was soaking wet when I got to his house but he and the Pizza were Dry. I rang his doorbell and his mother answered the door. She could not get over why someone would follow her son home keeping him and the Pizza dry. She immediately called my mother and told her what I had done, and complimented her on a job well done in raising a fine young man.

My mother was so moved by the action she called the Pizza shop and ordered a small pepperoni and sausage pizza just for me.

Before You Nominate Me For Sainthood Here is the Whole Story

Sure I wanted the kid to get home with a Pizza intact for his Birthday Party, but… He had an Older Sister. She had Frizzy Red Hair, Freckles, and the cutest upturned nose.  I did the act of gallantry to impress her not her mother. When her Mother answered the door I was saddened and it must have shown on my face.

It just goes to show you that any act of kindness, no matter the size, will inspire people to action. My kindness inspired the kid’s Mother to call my Mother, who called the Pizza Shop. But what about the Red Headed Girl? She kissed me, behind the Book Stacks in the Library the next Monday at school.

That was over 50 Years Ago and I still have it as a fond memory. That was my reward for my act of kindness.

I hope you enjoyed this series and will Give us a Try. I hope you like us.

In Conclusion

One of the easiest ways to measure the appropriate price is by determining the most relevant and useful functions of your presentation. By understanding the objectives of your potential audience, you will be able to create a more personalized approach to your engagement. Knowing how many people you will be able to serve will ensure you can deliver the most valuable message possible.

Remember that most church board member think they are Top Notch Negotiators, when in actuality they are the worst type of negotiators to deal with. They often make unrealistic promises to the board and blame the Guest Speaker when their offer is turn down. Learn to brush off rejections and move on. That’s what Pros Do.

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