Looking for a Quality Speaker? Put Your Money Where THEIR Mouth Is!

February 20, 2018

Christy Lamagna

When Christy joined the meetings industry 27 years ago, event planning was a concept more than a recognized profession. In the ensuing two and a half decades, she has proudly participated in its evolution. In 2001 she founded Strategic Meetings & Events, which produces mid to large scale corporate events worldwide. Christy is a nationally recognized, award-winning strategic planner and entrepreneur, has a private coaching practice and has taught strategic planning at the college level for the last ten years. Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here

All event strategists know that content is king, so when we bring in outside speakers we need to do our homework and recommend wisely. As is the case with all things event strategists do, their actions yield the highest quality results that align with the event’s goal. In this instance, that means reaching out to an accredited speakers bureau and leveraging their expertise.

For those who are not as calibrated in their process, an internet search for ‘motivational’ or ‘professional’ speakers may start the process. Perhaps a visit to YouTube for clips of speakers is the preferred route, with an obligatory click on cute puppy videos along the way. For some a query to colleagues gets the ball rolling.

While both methodologies may result in booking the same speaker, not all paths are equal. For those who opt to do the legwork and cut out the middleman, the road is longer, uphill and full of bumps. Speakers' bureaus are like Convention and Visitors' Bureaus; at your disposal, designed to make your job easier, staffed by professionals and not fully utilized or understood.

It is critical to remember how often we are offended when other people think they can do our jobs. Let’s not be guilty of that same mistake by imagining that if we can search the internet we can find a speaker just as well as a professional can.

To better understand why a professional speakers’ bureau really is the way to go, I interviewed Sue Falcone, founder and CEO of, “Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau.” Here’s the first of three excerpts from our in-depth and enlightening conversation.

Christy: Why should I use a speakers’ bureau rather than find a speaker via Google or references?

Sue: I believe that communicating what speakers’ bureaus really are, and the value they bring is key to being able to be the “go to” resource for securing the best speaker for an event. Here are three questions we ask perspective clients:

  1. Do you want to save time, money and resources?
  2. Do you want peace of mind with less stress knowing your speaker is going to be remarkable and you will be seen as a rock star for choosing to work with a speakers’ bureau?
  3. Did you know that speakers’ bureau fees are paid by the speaker - not you - so therefore all the time and services a speakers’ bureau provides is free to you?   

Christy: Is it more expensive to use a speakers’ bureau?

Sue: Cost is the biggest concern about the perception of using a speakers’ bureau. Many bureaus structure the pricing so their commission comes out of the speaker’s fee. Speakers are willing to pay the bureau out of their speaker’s fee to cover the representation, negotiations and follow up work.

To note: some bureaus do charge a fee, so ask up front whose responsibility it is to cover booking fees.

Christy: What is the difference between one speakers’ bureau and another? Are you all selling the same thing?

Sue: Many speakers’ bureaus have become “speaker listing bureaus” rather than ones who actively work to secure events for all speakers they represent.

Christy: What should an event planner – or a speaker - look for as differentiation in a bureau?

Sue: I have a screening process and require the speakers I represent to sign an agreement with me as to how I will represent them, and what we have agreed to do for them. I must know they are marketable and when they are booked through my bureau they actually not only represent themselves, but also my company.

 

Next month we’ll continue to explore how to work with a speakers’ bureau to find the right speaker, what questions to ask and how to build a partnership with a bureau.

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