Excellent post from prieconomics about highly paid speakers. So every since college, my cohorts and I were never quite happy with famous and very expensive speakers. Of course, it was free for us to attend so I really did not complain much and benefited somewhat by learning how to speak well from their speech styles. Yet I wondered why do we pay so much?!! Really? The content is not so new and with YouTube, you can find similar content online since most speakers give similar speeches.
So are we all wasting money? Is everyone irrational? Nope! Actually, there is a good reason why we pay so much for famous speakers.
First, having a famous speaker like Bill Clinton raises the perceived quality of the event. In essence, having a famous speaker sends a signal that this event is legitimate and has some class to it. Because if it was not the case, then Clinton would not speak. So first and foremost, having famous speakers signals that the event is somewhat high quality.
Second, it promotes the event. It is easy to advertise the event when you have a famous speaker. The former president Bill Clinton will deliver the opening speech! There is the marketing.
Third, famous speakers have insights and networks. Of course, you cannot expect to learn all their insights and gain the famous speaker’s network at once but you will gain some. For instance, I know that many companies invite former high government officials for speeches and ask them about policies and their implications before and after the speech (in the down time). Also, some times, famous speakers introduce their friends and acquaintances. For instance, if a company CEO asks about certain regulation, Clinton may give his thoughts but further recommend talking to his former policy advisors. Hence, insights and networks justify the high speech cost.
In sum, highly paid speakers may seem irrational at a glimpse but careful analysis shows that they are somewhat worth their money (Of course, there will be always a premium).