How to Calculate Your Fee for an Applied Improvisation Workshop

Posted on 23 March 2017

I know how challenging it can be to figure out how to calculate your fee for designing and presenting an Applied Improvisation workshop (or providing any kind of service) for a client.

I’ve been a freelance marketing consultant, editor, copywriter and trainer for over 20 years, and an Applied Improvisation trainer for about five years, and people often ask me for advice about how much they should charge for their services.

So here’s what I’ve learned: When you’re calculating and negotiating your fee for an Applied Improvisation workshop, you need to weigh up many interconnected factors:

  • time, not just for the workshop itself, but also for briefing/admin/research/design/preparation, and travel to and from the venue
  • out-of-pocket expenses, e.g., travel, accommodation, meals, photocopying, hiring additional trainers, marketing and all your other business expenses
  • the number of participants
  • the complexity of the assignment, e.g., are there any challenges in terms of the client’s goals, expectations and decision-making process; your familiarity with the client’s company and industry; the audio-visual requirements; the participants’ age, mobility, language, culture…?
  • your skill and experience
  • the value to the client of the tangible and intangible results that the individual participants and the client’s whole organisation will get from the workshop
  • the nature of the client’s organisation, e.g., is it a big multinational corporation or a small, local, non-profit organisation that you support?
  • the venue – is it suitable, and do you have to find it and manage the whole booking, payment and stage management process yourself?
  • whether the assignment includes follow-up activities, assessment or reporting
  • the urgency of the assignment
  • the attractiveness of the assignment, i.e., have you worked with this client before, do you like them, are they a pleasure to work with, do they pay your invoices on time, do you want to support a worthy charity, is the venue location convenient and appealing for you, do you have to spend a lot of time educating skeptical decision-makers about what Applied Improvisation is and how it can help, do they quibble over every dollar, how keen/desperate are you to do this assignment, is this a one-off thing or will it be the start of a long-term relationship, have you spotted any red flags…?
  • other possible benefits for you, e.g., can you sell your books at the event, can you video the event and take photos for your own marketing purposes?
  • your level of confidence that you’re worth it!


Some factors that should NOT influence your calculation (at least not too much)

  • the client’s budget (if they’re even willing or able to tell you what it is) – that’s useful information to know, but don’t let it unduly influence your calculation of a fee that works for YOU!
  • how much other trainers charge – you don’t know what their expenses and their revenue/profit goals are
  • a client’s promise that it will be good “exposure” for you (unless you’re sure that the connections you make will be worth it)
  • a client’s promise to give you a testimonial and referrals – they should be an expected part of the deal, not a bonus that warrants a discount in your fee
  • a client’s promise to give you more work in future if you give them “a good price” on an assignment

I don’t have a magic formula – you’ll need to decide for yourself how much weight to give to each one of those factors, and I can’t tell you how much to charge.

Have I missed any factors we should consider when calculating a fee? What tips would you like to add? Comments welcome.

If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of Applied Improvisation, well, it’s about taking the principles, skills and mindset of theatrical improvisation (which is when a team of people perform together without a script) and applying them offstage in life and business. The results include better teamwork, leadership, communication, trust, creativity and nimble responsiveness to change – because life and business don’t come with a script. For more information, visit the website of the international Applied Improvisation Network.

Kay Ross
Hong Kong
Tweet me nice at @kayross


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