National Genealogical Society

Conferences & Events

NGS 2018 Family History Conference Speaker Compensation

NGS continually evaluates speaker compensation in the context of our goal to produce a high-quality educational conference. We realize that the program and therefore our speakers' is what makes the NGS conference an enriching educational experience.

NGS Speaker Compensation Model

NGS has discontinued the old conference formula used by conference organizers for decades, which favored using fewer speakers and those with prior national experience. The old formula paid all travel; a hotel night for each lecture plus one additional night; honorarium; and expense allowance for each day scheduled to speak. In order for the previous system to work, each speaker had to present three lectures or more. The conference organizers could not afford to invite a speaker to present only one lecture unless they were local and required no travel or hotel nights. This severely limited the number of national speakers who were invited, prevented new speakers from gaining an audience, and restricted the program topics to the specific expertise of the few speakers invited.

In 2011, NGS changed to a new speaker compensation package. This allows organizers to invite speakers who have no national level experience but who are experts in specialized topics to enrich the conference. This change has improved the breadth and depth of the NGS conference programs which is beneficial to the conference attendees.

Some have asked “What happens if a speaker is to give only one lecture? The compensation only covers a small portion of my expenses to attend the conference.” Speaking at a conference is a way to cover some costs for speakers when they attend a conference. For example, speakers receive a complimentary full registration regardless of the number of lectures they are presenting. This gives speakers the opportunity to attend quality continuing education lectures and to network with colleagues and exhibitors.

Advance planning is part of the genealogical world since calls for proposals, booking travel, and scheduling speaking activities require looking at one's individual calendar eighteen months to two years prior. With that in mind, speakers will need to consider compensation offered as a supplement to their travel budget by year, not a fully reimbursable expense. Using the current compensation package, speakers may benefit more one year and less another year over time. Depending on where the speakers live in relation to the conference site, a speaker may use all of the travel allowance to reach the conference, may use only a portion of it to reach the conference, or may have to supplement the allowance. This will change each year depending on where the conference is located.

The NGS conference offers four days of lectures. A speaker may be speaking one to four hours over the course of the conference. They then have many free hours to attend lectures, network, talk to vendors, and socialize. All of these activities are important to a speaker’s personal growth and visibility in the field. The exposure that speakers get at a national conference is an unpaid benefit that is hard to measure. Those who lecture at national conferences usually get more speaking engagements because of their increased visibility.

2018 Speaker Compensation

Over the last three years NGS has increased the travel from $100 to $125 per lecture (2015); the per diem to an expense allowance per lecture (2016); and the honorarium from $150 to $175 per lecture (2017). We will continue to reevaluate the compensation package and make further adjustments to increasing travel expenses in the coming years. NGS speakers are selected by the conference committee. All NGS selected speakers receive a single complimentary full-conference registration.


Lectures Honorarium Hotel Nights Travel Expense Allowance
1 $175 1 night* $125* $35**
2 $350 2 nights* $250* $70**
3 $525 3 nights* $375* $105**
4 $700 4 nights* $500* $140**

*Speakers who live more than 50 miles from the conference hotel receive a complimentary hotel room and travel allowance; those who live within 50 miles of the hotel do not receive this compensation.

**Expense Allowance is based on the number of lectures.


NGS speakers are selected by the conference committee. All NGS selected speakers receive a single complimentary full-conference registration. Please see the above Speaker Compensation table.

Lecture or luncheon speakers who are sponsored by an organization will receive a complimentary one-day registration from NGS for the day of their sponsored presentation only or $50 toward a full conference registration. They receive no other compensation from NGS, although they may receive compensation from the sponsoring organization.

Expectation that the Speaker will: Expectation that NGS will provide:
  • provide lectures that are fresh and stimulating to conference registrants
  • provide high quality electronic presentations that are clear and readable
  • supply high quality syllabus material in the format requested by the specified deadline
  • assist in promoting the conference through distributing conference promotional materials; present the provided conference electronic presentation whenever possible; and provide a conference blog post about the lectures they will be presenting at the conference
  • furnish an LCD projector and laptop for presenting their lectures
  • complete the speaker survey
  • honorarium for each lecture presented
  • expense allowance for each day scheduled to speak
  • one hotel night for each lecture
  • a forum to promote the speaker and their lectures through the conference blog
  • complimentary full-conference registration
  • travel allowance based on number of lectures
  • speaker ribbon for conference nametag

NGS values the efforts that each speaker makes to deliver a professional lecture. For our part, we are doing everything in our power to provide a quality conference at a reasonable price to attendees, encourage new speakers, compensate all speakers fairly, and still realize a modest profit so that we can continue holding an annual conference. It is a delicate balance to achieve all of these competing goals; NGS constantly reevaluates the best way to do so.

Text Size Increase Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Bookmark and Share