I am often asked, “Can I get paid to be a panel moderator?” Good question, and the answer is (like most things) “it depends.”
Many panel discussions are part of a larger event, so you are probably being asked to moderate the panel within the larger context of your contributions to the overall conference or convention: as a paid professional speaker, an industry speaker, an exhibitor, a sponsor, or a registered participant.
I find the expectation for most non-profit/association meeting organizers for small to medium-sized events is that a panel moderator will be happy to do this at no expense to the organization when they are:
- Industry professionals who typically have an organization or sponsor who is willing to pay the expenses.
- Exhibitors and sponsors who are paid by their corporation to attend and would be delighted to have additional visibility.
- One of the speakers who can add this as an extra service.
For corporate or larger events, the expectation is that the panel moderator will be a seasoned, professional speaker or industry expert and as such, should be compensated:
- Panel moderator fee. Establish a “panel moderator rate” as either a “tuck” into the current statement of work or a rate for a stand-alone panel. Most professional speakers will quote you the same fee as their in-person, virtual, or hybrid speaking fees.
- Stipend. A stipend is a small contribution to acknowledge the effort that will go into moderating the panel. For some organizations or instances, you may want to have the client pay a smaller rate that acknowledges the unique circumstances of the client or the event.
- Travel and expenses. Can be a stated sum, no greater than a stated sum, or actual expenses. (My preference is the stated sum and be done with it!)
- Contribution. For some speakers, a donation to your favorite charity might be preferable.
If the organization does not have any money or budget for a panel moderator, then the above is a moot point. BUT if you really want to moderate the panel discussion, then get creative as “compensation” doesn’t necessarily mean money! What else is important to you? Visibility? Recognition? Praise? Access to others?
Here are some ideas to negotiate “equitable value” with the event organizer:
- Barter. What can they (or their sponsors) offer that will be of equal value to their fee?
- Sponsorships. Is there another company that might sponsor you and get some visibility to the participants?
- Access. Get access to the participants by providing the attendee list and/or VIP access to the heavy hitters in the room.
- Revenue. Can you make an offer and/or sell books or some other product at the back of the room?
- Free registration to another high-profile event that they offer.
- Visibility. Profile you in your publications and/or publish an article in their magazine or newsletter.
- Publicity. Have them arrange for on-site interviews with the local media.
- Video. Ask them to professionally video the session. (Good video is VERY hard to come by!)
Depending on how badly the organization wants someone to moderate a panel, you may or may not get paid to moderate a panel, but you can get compensated in some way, shape or fashion! But if you don’t ask, the default is probably “No, I didn’t think I needed to!”
Should You Pay Your Panelists?
How to Promote Your Panel Discussion
How to Promote Yourself During a Panel Discussion
For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.