Keynote Speaking

Phil Simon is a provocative, informative, and engaging keynote speaker. Over his career, he has riveted more than 30,000 people in over 300 talks in eight countries on a wide variety of topics.

“Phil has the rare ability to make what may seem dry and complex topics both compelling and entertaining.”

—Joris Evers, Netflix, Vice President, Head of Communications for Europe

speakingOrganizations hire me to give dynamic talks about platforms, technology, management, Big Data, communications, and other contemporary topics.

Ideally, in-person talks raise the level of discourse. They should set the tone for the conference, seminar, or corporate event. How do they do this? By provoking, inspiring, and informing their audiences.

turn_BWI have been speaking in public forums for nearly two decades. At grad school, I worked as a teaching assistant for three of my four semesters. Yeah, I had to convince a bunch of college sophomores that 19th-century English labor economics was interesting–on Friday mornings, no less.

Talk about a tough crowd.

After grad school, I started teaching classes and leading workshops as part of my job. While I worked in corporate HR at CapitalOne, I was the go-to guy for performance-management seminars and new-hire sexual harassment training. At Merck and Lawson Software, I frequently taught people how to use different applications, perform upgrades, and the like.

Since 1995, I have given more than 300 talks, speeches, presentations, and workshops to approximately 30,000 people on three continents and in eight countries, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Argentina.


Over the past five years, I have effectively changed careers–even though I continue to work for myself. Up until 2008, I worked as an enterprise system consultant. The travel and internal politics were starting to wear on me, though. I felt that it was time for a change. Beginning in 2009, I began the move to writing, keynote speaking, and thought leadership. In the process, I have spoken at plenty of universities, companies, associations, private events, and public conferences.

These days, I speak about a bouillabaisse of topics, usually book-related. I don’t write short books and, at least for me, a talk is never about a single, narrow subject. I don’t give boilerplate presentations to my clients. I work with them ahead of the event to ensure that I’m speaking about what they want–and, often just as important, avoiding what they don’t.

Here’s what my clients say about my speaking abilities.

“Phil is an engaging speaker with the rare ability to make what may seem dry and complex topics both compelling and entertaining.”

–Joris Evers, Netflix, Vice President, Head of Communications for Europe

“The term thought leader is thrown around a lot and often appended to popular speaker’s list of accomplishments. What you really want out of a thought leader is someone who leads knowledge-thirsty professionals to think differently about something. Phil did just that at our annual user conference, Collabosphere. Phil has a genuine style our attendees raved about. The true litmus test is what people say after the speaker is done. Well, mission accomplished Phil. Our customers are still talking and debating about the value of e-mail, the right ways to communicate, and how to make sure their message is received.”

—Mark Fordham, VP of Services, Central Desktop

“Phil Simon is an entertaining and informative speaker with thoughtful insights into the rapidly changing technology driven business environment. We learned about the drivers and the players in Silicon Valley. Phil enabled our team to not only learn about online platforms and leading tech companies but to also challenge our thinking about innovation, disruption and platforms. As a result, our team has a more complete and dynamic understanding of the tech landscape which will help us better serve our customers and compete in a competitive industry.”

—Mike Galvin, Vice President Nextgen, Tata Communications

“Phil is able to convey a lot of well-organized information in a way that enlightens and entertains the audience, leaving them more informed and providing them with interesting ideas and perspectives to ponder further.”

—Anne Milley, Sr. Director Analytics Strategy, JMP at SAS

“Phil is an enthusiastic, engaging, and funny speaker. He talks about data like a critic about art. He compels you to think about and see the world in a brand new way. He was a pleasure to host and have on the Zappos campus. He didn’t even get mad when pelted with a water balloon.”

—Amelia Pond, Zappos

“Phil Simon’s own desire to be open and connected with the audience strengthens his ability to come across as and be the most authentic speaker and storyteller. Phil is passionate about his message and has identified ways to connect a diverse and wide-range audience to one common topic.”

—Danielle Gilbertson, Account Executive; Edelman Public Relations

“Phil has that rare skill as a speaker to distill the complex to more tactical and strategic thinking so his presentations aren’t only entertaining but are also operational. A rare gift for the modern business audience.”

–Lori H. Schwartz, Managing Partner, StoryTech™

“When I go to a talk based on a book I’ve read, I have high expectations; the talk had better go beyond the book and into the realm of critical conversation. Phil Simon nailed it this week. Super content, engagement with the specific audience, bravo!”

–Professor Terri L. Griffith, Ph.D. Chair, Management Department, Santa Clara University.

“Phil gave a wonderful presentation. All of the attendees loved it and are very excited about his latest book.”

–Amit Jain, eBay, Manager, Business Intelligence

“In a word, awesome.”

–Julie Tulipane Stalknecht, Senior VP, Membership and Marketing, NMHC

“Phil has performed exceptionally well in two different capacities for us and we have already engaged him for a third event. As a speaker he is excellent. He’s not arrogant but obviously very current with the technology trends affecting our markets. It is very valuable to have Phil exercise your team using his lens. He is very straightforward and clear in his communication style.

–Jay Jordan, President and CEO, OCLC, Inc.

“Phil is a phenomenal speaker. I saw him in 2014 at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference. He captured my attention from the first word to the last. He has a mastery of his subject, and expertly weaves in modern-day references to help audience members relate more closely to the topic. I would attend any presentation he gave.”

–Shelley Sessoms, Acquisitions Editor, SAS Press

“Engaging, knowledgeable, and likable. Phil left our professional audience armed with new knowledge and smiling.”

–Clinton Bonner, Vice President, Marketing, TopCoder

“Phil’s kick-off presentation on The Age of the Platform at PostalVision 2020/2.0 Conference hit the bull’s eye. It proved to be a powerful and provocative approach to a highly stimulating discussion. Like his books, Phil is convincing, inspiring, and relevant to any industry.”

–John Callan, Conference Organizer, Postal Vision 2020

“Phil Simon is an energetic speaker that makes complex thoughts easy to understand. He brought clarity to the subject of platforms and gave people a new way to look at them. He kept the audience engaged and his keynote received positive feedback and reviews.”

–Kate Gaylord, Director of Communications, OCLC

“Phil Simon is a rock star. He’s funny, engaging, and incredibly smart; he easily breaks down abstract concepts for widely varied audiences in a way that is both exciting and valuable. I’d rush to hire him again.”

–Clair Byrd, Director of Content,

“Phil has a personable and engaging approach to speaking events. His presentation to our team was informative and fun, and we’re incredibly supportive of his efforts to champion smarter communications in business.”

–Jodi Sorensen, Director of Marketing Communications, Smartsheet

Here’s a one-page document that provides an overview on my speaking practice. Click on the image below to open and/or download it.

It’s a privilege to be on stage in front of people. Period. Attention is an increasingly rare commodity. It amazes me when I see speakers taking their audiences for granted.

You can judge speakers by the quality of their slides. I’ve never seen a good speaker reference visual eyesores such as these:

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Do you want speakers who create slides like these representing your conference or event?

Slides should be as spartan as possible. Period. They should accentuate speakers’ points, not confuse the audience.

How can you tell the difference? How do you really know if an audience is paying attention to the person on stage?

It’s usually to hard to determine if attendees are really engaged. Ask yourself if they are looking up at the speaker or down at their devices? (Sure, some people may be tweeting, but most of the time they are doing something else.)

For professional speakers, pricing is more of an art than a science. There’s simply no magic formula to determine how much to charge for a talk, seminar, or workshop. That doesn’t mean, however, that I just pick a number out of a hat or random number generator. Against that backdrop and in no particular order, here are some general rules of thumb that I use when quoting my speaking services.
Note that all of these include the proviso “all else being equal.”

Number of attendeesThis is quite simple. I charge more for speaking to large groups than when I speak to smaller ones.
Type of attendeesI charge more for speaking to groups of senior executives than when I speak to non-execs.
Length of talk / seminarAgain, this isn'’t rocket surgery. I charge more for a 60-minute keynote than a 30-minute one. Ditto for a two-day seminar vs. a half-day one.
Type of talkI charge more for keynoting than I do for a breakout session.
Location / TravelThe closer the event is to my home in Las Vegas, the less I will charge.
SpecificityI charge less for a generic talk than I do for a very esoteric one. For instance, a talk in which I provide an overview of The Age of the Platform differs from one on how telecom companies can embrace platform thinking.
Previous talksI'm a data guy. I use fees from my previous talks as rough proxies for future talks.
TimingYou can lock me in at a lower rate by reserving me five or six months in advance. Put differently, I'm more likely to quote a higher fee if the engagement takes place relatively soon.
Nature of organization / ability to payGovernment agencies and nonprofits often lack the same funds and resources as for-profit corporations. I charge more for speaking at events and conferences held by the latter.
Book purchasesI charge less for my talk if the hosting organization or event sponsor buys copies of my books. Note, though, that the total cost of the engagement may be higher.
Market / Comparable speakersThis is Compensation 101. I follow what other professional speakers in my cohort routinely charge.
YearI charge more for my talks than I did four years ago. I suspect that the same will be true four years from now.
TopicOn certain subjects, I possess a unique and particularly valuable perspective. Examples include communication, data visualization, communication, platforms, disruption, publishing, IT project failures, and Big Data. On others such as social media, there’'s no shortage of cogent speakers, not to mention plenty of snake oil salesmen.
Advance noticeLast-minute bookings typically require me to rearrange previous client commitments. A three- or four-month window makes it easier for me to handle everything else.

bookmetospeaknew-798x1024To see a visual of the process for booking me (after all, I did write a book on data visualization) click on the image on the right or click here. With very rare exceptions, I charge for my talks. If Charlie Rose or Jimmy Fallon wants me to be on their shows, I’m not about to send them invoices.

To inquire about my speaking rates and availability, please fill out the form below. I will be in touch within one business day.

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Click here to find answers to my most frequently asked speaking questions.