What Should I Ask For To Present Three Guest Lectures?
August 31, 2011 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I've been asked by a university professor to present three separate lectures to a group of graduate students on a relatively arcane -- but not overly complicated -- topic. Each lecture will probably last about an 1.5 hours, not including travel time to and from the campus. The professor mentioned that he has funds available to compensate me for these lectures, but won't give any indication of budget. He's asked me to provide a proposal outlining fees. I haven't done this before, so I don't know whether it's fair to ask for my normal hourly billing rate -- which I'm assuming is probably high. On the other hand, I don't want to do this for free. So my question is... What compensation is reasonable to ask for as a first-time guest lecturer? (Oh yeah: This is an elite private Midwestern University. They aint going broke.)
posted by silkyd to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask for your normal hourly billing rate. All he can say is no.
posted by bq at 3:43 PM on August 31, 2011

I'm with bq, but I would be willing to reduce the fee on request if this exposure will possibly be beneficial to your work in other ways over the next several years.
posted by megatherium at 3:50 PM on August 31, 2011

I do this from the other side. My advice would be to ask your billing rate, he might well pony up, we do pay a few desirable guest lecturers at crazy rates, others we are able to get to go along with our 'standard rate' for guest lecturers. If he comes back with an offer below your hourly then its up to you to negotiate, make sure to emphasise the amount of effort it will take to prep the lecture. Have some idea of whether you are prepared to say no to a low offer or whether you don't want to risk it if there are intangibles like being able to use their name for business purposes, later work, etc. Get confirmation that they will cover expenses also.
posted by biffa at 3:54 PM on August 31, 2011

I tell them my hourly and ask if that is within their budget. I enjoy guest lecturing, but to be honest it's a lot of prep. Very few institutes have ever compensated me for the number of hours I have put into actually delivering a 1.5 hour lecture.

Teachers at all levels, I commend you.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:56 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a data point, in the departments I've been associated with, we've generally offered guest speakers a $1000-$1500 honorarium plus travel and lodging for a 1-2 hour lecture. Big-name guests invited for a university-wide lecture usually get an extra zero (or an honorary degree).
posted by brozek at 4:30 PM on August 31, 2011

Departments often have university administrative funds to draw from for special lectures. It's no big deal for them to have to ask the dean for some money.
posted by lathrop at 7:07 PM on August 31, 2011

At the other end of the scale from brozek's, our department usually pays $250-$300 for a guest lecture. But we don't usually have big names.
posted by lollusc at 8:35 PM on August 31, 2011

Oh man, my university is CHEAP when it comes to guest presenters. We are talking $100 on the high end and usually a speaker gift. The people who get paid crazy money are celebrities but that is a rare occasion.
posted by jadepearl at 8:55 PM on August 31, 2011

What's normal or possible depends hugely on the field. Eg business schools will often have funds for generous honoraria, but humanities departments often don't. Also depends on unpredictable facts about the university and the specific department - eg they may have a special fund from some rich alum that's dedicated to exactly your subject area. You can't know without asking.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:07 PM on August 31, 2011

Ask billing rate. Include travel time. Negotiate from there.
posted by zia at 10:22 PM on August 31, 2011

In my department (humanities/social science, where speakers aren't likely to have lucrative careers outside--or, for that matter, inside--academia) speakers are generally paid $500-1000 for a lecture and have all their travel/housing/dining expenses covered.
posted by col_pogo at 2:40 AM on September 1, 2011

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