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
Organizations 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.
I 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 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:
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 pretty easy 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 attendees||This is quite simple. I charge more for speaking to large groups than when I speak to smaller ones.|
|Type of attendees||I charge more for speaking to groups of senior executives than when I speak to non-execs.|
|Length of talk / seminar||Again, 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 talk||I charge more for keynoting than I do for a breakout session.|
|Location / Travel||The closer the event is to my home in Las Vegas, the less I will charge.|
|Specificity||I 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 talks||I'm a data guy. I use fees from my previous talks as rough proxies for future talks.|
|Timing||You 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 pay||Government 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 purchases||I 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 speakers||This is Compensation 101. I follow what other professional speakers in my cohort routinely charge.|
|Year||I charge more for my talks than I did four years ago. I suspect that the same will be true four years from now.|
|Topic||On 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 notice||Last-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.|
Click here to find answers to my most frequently asked speaking questions.
Effective August 10, 2016, I will be teaching at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. (Here is the post announcing it.) This means that my ability to speak at conferences is now somewhat limited, especially during the academic year.