Followers of The Speaker Experts understand the multiplier effect of the ASAE Annual Meeting on the association and corporate meeting industry. This year’s ASAE Annual Meeting will take place from August 18th – 21st in Chicago, Illinois and will feature some of the speaking circuits most in-demand speakers including Forbes Publisher, Rich Karlgaard, Workforce Strategist and Management Trendspotter, Seth Mattison and Presidential Advisor, Tina Tchen.

For the purposes of identifying the next big trend in the speaking industry, The Speaker Experts focus on the meeting’s Closing Session. Over the past two years, each speaker tasked with giving this important speech quickly became one of the most requested speakers in the nation. During the ASAE 2016 Annual Meeting, Derreck Kayongo had an unforgettable high energy speech that challenged attendees to reject easy cynicism and embrace practical problem solving to make a difference one step at a time. At last year’s ASAE Annual Meeting, Chef Jeff Henderson discussed the power of purpose and making life-changing decisions, in order to secure personal and professional successes. All one needs to do is quickly google search Derreck or Jeff to understand the buzz that was created by these inspiring presentations to ASAE’s bellwether audience.

At this year’s 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting, the Speaker Experts are looking forward to World Champion Triathlete, Coach and Author, Siri Lindley’s closing presentation in Chicago. Her speech will help association leaders unlock the potential of the people they lead and the members they represent.

If the past two years are any indication of the influence on the speaker market, we believe Siri Lindley will quickly become one of the most requested speakers among state and national association leaders. The Speaker Experts fared poorly in our economics classes, but continue to subscribe to the economic teaching of Father Guido Sarducci. The increased market demand will result in a higher speaking fee. Now is the time to evaluate Siri as a speaker prior to her speech at ASAE next month!

-Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

One of the keys to a successful Annual Meeting or National Sales Kickoff is the Opening General Session, which provides an ideal forum to inspire and motivate the audience. A good general session speaker will leave the audience energized, inspired and motivated to learn. A great opening speaker will be so impactful that their message will resonate with the audience profoundly, and act as motivational fuel not only throughout the meeting, but throughout the year.

Few environments, if any, are as competitive and dynamic as that of the NHL. With 31 teams of athletes at the peak of human conditioning competing for one trophy, stakes are high, and organizations put millions on the line for the opportunity to win a championship. When competition is that high, motivation and inspiration become critical factors, and it is extremely important for an organization to set a tone conducive to achievement and success.

So, when the Washington Capitals needed a speaker to set the tone for the 2018 Season and to help win the Lord Stanley’s Cup, they called upon acclaimed mountain climber, adventurer and CEO Jamie Clarke.


Jamie Clarke pictured with the Washington Capitals NHL Hockey team after speaking at their Preseason Kickoff Meeting

Jamie’s upbeat perspectives from the roof of the world to the peaks of business success inspire organizations to overcome challenges and understand the thin margin between success and failure. Jamie understands the importance of the combination of perseverance and teamwork, and if understood and executed – anything is possible…


Washington Capitals – 2018 Stanley Cup Champions

Ok, ok we can’t tell you that Jamie Clarke is the reason behind the Capitals’ win last evening.  In the interest of total transparency, we recognize that his hockey career ended as a junior in Canada. However, we can tell you that high performance organizations like the Washington Capitals and the Canadian National Hockey Team can have their choice of just about any motivational speaker on the planet and they selected Jamie. If you are looking for a high impact speaker to help your organization win its version of the Stanley Cup or compete at the Olympic level, put Jamie Clarke on your “first line!”


Jamie Clarke pictured speaking to Canadian National Hockey team at
PyeongChang 2018

 Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The Speaker Experts regularly point out the symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and the professional speaker circuit. Legendary speakers with the highest demand on corporate and association stages are often first “discovered” on the big screen. This phenomenon is most prevalent in military genre films. Look no further than Lone Survivor (Marcus Luttrell, Navy SEAL who journeyed into the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan during Operation Red Wings), Black Hawk Down (Sgt. Matt Eversmann, Army Ranger whose team was deployed to Somalia and trapped in a hostile district of Mogadishu.), Zero Dark Thirty (Robert O’Neill,Navy Seal operator and part of team that raided Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad Compound), Apollo 13 (Captain James Lovell, NASA commander who guided the Apollo 13 mission) 13 Hours (Kris “Tanto” Paronto, US Army Ranger responded to attack of CIA Annex in Benghazi). These military heroes are among the most popular and most requested motivational speakers on the American Speaking circuit. Their stories of courage and patriotism are timeless, and the lessons and message are needed today, more than ever before.

In early 2018, we see a perfect storm of heroism, story, movie casts, and directors that have great potential to spawn the next big blockbuster speaker:

  • “12 Strong”  releases in theaters this Friday on January 19th. This film is directed by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Chris Hemsworth as “Captain Mitch Nelson” (Nelson is a synonym for the real thing – Captain Mark Nutsch). The film is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 and tells the story of an elite group of 12 Green Berets who were the first US Soldiers sent into Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. They fought in combat on horseback in remote areas of northern Afghanistan while vastly outnumbered and against overwhelming odds.
  • “The 15:17 to Paris” releases in theaters on Friday, February 9th, 2018. This film is directed by Clint Eastwood and tells the story of American Soldiers who discover a terrorist plot on a Paris bound train. Eastwood casts the heroic trio in the film as themselves Anthony Sadler, National Guardsman, Alek Skarlatos and US Airforce First Class, Spencer Stone

We believe that the protagonists of these films could be blockbuster speakers in 2018 and beyond. Meeting professionals who schedule these speakers will initially “buy low” as the speaker fee’s have the potential to exponentially increase after the films hit the big screen. With that said, these are not proven professional speakers with a long history of standing ovations following their remarks. Evaluate the “risk” vs.“reward” when considering these speakers for your next event.

– Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Retail innovators, Sy and Marcy Syms were well known for their company slogan, “An Educated Consumer is our Best Customer.” Although, this philosophy was derived from the competitive off-price retail clothing industry, it does have a direct application to the speaker bureau industry. The Speaker Experts believe “An Educated Consumer is in the Best Position to take advantage of industry trends.” Trade and professional association meeting planners strive to schedule speakers that are relevant, timely, and current. This would be a rather simple task if conferences were scheduled weeks or even months in advance. However, the challenge faced by most association meeting professionals and corporate meeting planners is the long-lasting meeting cycle period. Usually, educational programs are scheduled for events that take place 8 – 15 months in advance. Furthermore, unless you have a crystal ball, magic pixie dust, or a leprechaun advising you on the future, this can be a challenging task.

The Speaker Experts have analyzed speaker industry trends for over three decades. During this time, we have seen speaker demand trends come and go, ranging from the early days of Searching for Excellence and Megatrends to more updated topics, such as, Market Disruption, Internet of Things, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence.

We are 5 months into a strong trend of demand for Security related speakers. We believe this trend will last for at least another 12 months and will carry us into the mid-term demand cycle for political and media speakers. If your meeting is taking place within the next 12 months, then exploring a security related theme will be relevant and timely.

Below you will find some of the circuit’s leading security related speakers:

CYBER-SECURITY: Theresa Payton






WHITE HAT SECURITY: Dr. Charlie Miller


FRAUD SECURITY: Frank Abagnale








To borrow and adopt American Economist Paul Samuelson’s quote, “Identifying speaker trend cycles of demand has never been a science and it’s even less now than a few years ago.”  We can never report with 100% certainty what the demanded trend will be a year from now, but given the current market landscape you can feel comfortable exploring speaker options in the security space.

– Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Followers of this blog understand The Speaker Experts are big fans of the NHL great, Wayne Gretzky’s concept of focusing on where the puck will be, instead of focusing on where it has been. With Gretzky’s lessons from the rink in mind, we believe that the differentiating factor between a good lecture agent and a great lecture agent is when the agent can not only effectively communicate which speakers are prevalent at the time, but can also forecast which speakers will subsequently become in demand in the future. Of course, if stockbrokers, professional gamblers, and lecture agents alike could consistently predict the future, then we would all be settled into retirement. Peering into a crystal ball and seeing the future is not an easy thing to do!

Nevertheless, every so often opportunities arise and the possibility to capture lightening in a bottle seems achievable. The Speaker Experts have studied speaker demand curves for years and recognize the catalyst moments in a speaker’s professional speaking career where their demand, visibility, and fee exponentially increase. The Speaker Experts often look to Hollywood for clues in this space and we believe to have found a bellwether event in Lionsgate’s August 11th release of, The Glass Castle, based on Jeannette Walls’ New York Times bestselling memoir.


The Glass Castle recounts Jeannette’s unconventional, nomadic, and poverty-stricken childhood at the hands of her deeply dysfunctional parents. Released in 2005, the memoir landed on the New York Times bestseller list for a total of 261 weeks! Fast-forward to 2017, 5 million copies have been sold and the book has been translated into 30 languages. Jeannette’s story is a timeless classic and the Speaker Experts project the film to be a major release. Oscar winner, Brie Larson will portray Jeannette Walls while Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts will portray her alcoholic father and eccentric mother.

The relationship between the success of one’s speaking career and their benchmark successes is historically positive as mentioned in The Speaker Expert’s Top Ten Films that Influence the Speaker Circuit. The Speaker Experts understand that a major motion film is only a small piece of the pie when it comes to spiked speaking demand rates. However, Jeanette Walls is a veteran motivational speaker with years of experience in front of corporate and association audiences. “The Glass Castle: Demon Hunting and other Life Lessons,” is one of the most genuine and thought provoking presentations that we have ever seen.

If your organization is in search of a high impact speaker in the late summer or early Fall, take advantage of the publicity, social, and digital media that will likely be generated by Lionsgate Entertainment as they promote this major movie release. As always, the best way to determine if Ms. Walls is a good fit for your audience is to consult with your trusted speaker bureau partner.

-Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Last week the American Society of Association Executives released a portion of their speaker schedule for the August 12th -15th, 2017 Annual Meeting held in Toronto, Canada. Our blog readers understand the impact that this annual meeting provides to the professional speaking industry. ASAE possesses a multiplier effect that grants the opportunity to choose among the world’s leading speakers. The competition to speak before this group is fierce and association leaders and meeting attendees take careful notice to the speakers selected. Historically, the exposure given to ASAE speakers lead to substantially increased demand as a result of a successful main stage presentation.

Proven examples of this spiked demand trend include 2015 Opening General Session Speaker, Josh Linkner and 2016 Opening and Closing Session Speakers, Derreck Kayongo and Captains Mark and Scott Kelly. Today, despite their inflated standard speaking fees, Linkner, Kayongo, and the Kelly Brothers are among the most sought after speakers in the nation. 

This year, the Speaker Experts are delighted to note ASAE’s selection of Chef Jeff Henderson as the 2017 Closing Session Speaker in Toronto. Jeff is a man of many talents. He is a thought leader, a motivational speaker, an award winning chef for brands like Caesars and Bellagio, a Food Network star and The New York Times bestselling author of Cooked. Jeff discovered his passion and gift for cooking in an unexpected place, prison. On stage, Jeff shares the lessons learned from his transformative journey from drug dealer to celebrity chef.

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Many industries do not rely on past performances to predict future results, such as, the financial services industry. In contrast, the professional speaking industry tends to rely heavily on quality past performances as key predictors to sustainable future outcomes. The Speaker Experts believe it’s a safe bet that Chef Jeff Henderson will be one of 2018’s most in demand speakers due to the added value and exposure presented by this prestigious ASAE Closing Session Speaker selection.

Take action and contact your speaker bureau of choice today to determine if Chef Jeff Henderson is a good fit for your upcoming meeting. Get ahead of the market demand that will likely take place as a result of this bellwether association event.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin





Last fall, we posted a blog “With a Name like Hogshead, She Better Be Good!”summarizing the specific importance and relevance the Financial and Insurance Conference has, in regards to, the professional speaking industry.

Recall, the FICP, (Financial & Insurance Conference Planners) has an executive membership of over 1,500 planner professionals and hospitality partners. With a history spanning over 60 years of leading experts, the FICP offers first-rate access to education experience and resources targeting the needs of financial services and insurance meeting planners from all across North America.

On November 9th, meeting industry leaders from key financial firms, such as Disney Destinations, DMC Network, 360 Destination Group, Hosts Global Alliance and Regent Seven Seas Cruises & Oceania Cruise, will gather at the Omni Nashville Hotel to attend the 2016 Financial and Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference.

Why is this particular conference important to the professional speaking industry? Essentially, the firms that are represented by FICP members invest large amounts of money in motivational speakers, trainers and thought leaders. Therefore, the competition to speak to this important group of meeting industry leaders is fierce. It is advantageous for a speaker to address this group because it builds their speaking credibility and reputation. It is no surprise that last year’s keynote speaker, Sally Hogshead, was one of the most “booked” and sought after speakers in the financial services sector.

Following this year’s meeting, The Speaker Experts believe that the chosen General Session speakers for the upcoming 2016 conference will benefit similar success and demand.

For the Opening General Session FICP stages:

Thomas Koulopoulos 


Tom Koulopoulos is the author of nine books and founder of Delphi Group, a 20-year-old Boston-based think tank, which was named one of the fastest growing private companies in the US by Inc. Magazine. Delphi provides advice on innovation practices and methods to Global 2000 organizations and government agencies.Click here to view his website.

For the Closing General Session FICP stages:

Captain Scott Kelly


On stage, Scott speaks on the themes of teamwork, crisis management, accountability, and leadership. Scott’s book, Endurance, will be published in 2017 and the movie rights to his life story have been acquired by Sony Pictures with a tentative release date in 2018. Click here to view his website.

Currently, Koulopoulos and Kelly are high demand speakers. Without hesitation, their speaking talents will increase following their General Session presentations. You can gather background information on both speakers and view streaming video of their presentations by clicking on the links provided above.

For those who may be interested, The Speaker Experts have acquired a limited number of Tom’s best-selling book Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business In his book, Tom delves into a vision of the future where disruptive invention and reinvention is the acknowledged norm, touching almost every aspect of how we work, live and play.

Please contact us in the event that you would like to recieve a complimentary copy of this quick read.  


Gary McManis & Jay Conklin


Every 4 years, in early August the world turns their attention to the Summer Olympic Games. This is an exciting time for sports and non-sports fans alike. Coincidentally, it is an important event for the professional speaking industry. Over the years, some of the most sought after motivational speakers on the circuit had first come into the national spotlight at the Olympic Games. Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Mary Lou Retton, Sugar Ray Leonard are just a few examples of Olympic athletes who have become cornerstones of the speaking industry.

The Speaker Experts have been in the speaking industry going back to the 1984 Olympic Games.  A lot has changed in the world of professional speaking since then, but one thing has not…the Olympic Games generate a great deal of demand from meeting planners that are vigorously looking to enhance their events by securing an Olympic athlete. Of course, the interest was demonstrated via phone calls and letters, while today it is demonstrated by emails, tweets, and texts.

This Olympic year has proven no exception. We have already received speaking requests for Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles and Maya DiRado. Scheduling an Olympic athlete to speak or appear at your upcoming event can be a great experience; however, you need to have a clear understanding on your desired outcome and goals for the appearance in order to make the most appropriate selection.

If your goal is to capture or take advantage of the Olympic spirit by securing a world class speaker, your best option will be to explore a former champion. While speakers like Peter Vidmar, John Naber, Scott Hamilton, and Vince Poscente may lack the name value of Olympic athletes who are competing in Rio this week, they are seasoned professional speakers who have crafted their speech and message having appeared before hundreds of groups.You can expect to find great options in this space in the $30,000 and under fee range. We often forget that these legacy athletes have a compelling backstory to go with their Olympic experience.  Therefore, we suggest a short high energy introduction video to bring these speakers on stage.

If your goal is to create excitement, increase revenue via attendance/sponsorship or drive attendees to the exhibit floor, securing a current champion could be an option, but there are a number of considerations. The first consideration is that generally younger athletes are not experienced professional speakers. They have spent their lives perfecting their craft and not a speech.  While there are exceptions, we would suggest a Q&A format with a professional moderator to bring out the best in the athlete.  The second consideration is cost. The top tier athletes for the current games can command fees in the six figure range for a short appearance. Finally, not every athlete will be available to appear at your meeting.  Many Olympic athletes will continue on to future competitions, return to a full-time job, or continue their education.


Scheduling a speaker with an Olympic background can add value and create excitement at your next event.  When doing so, it is important to have a clear understanding of your expectations for the speaker and the session.  Although, this month’s Olympic gold medal winners will bring instant name value and cache to your stage, it is not always realistic to ask them to give a polished 50 minute keynote speech. If you are looking to capture the Olympic spirit with a world class professional speaker, look towards an older athlete who has a proven track record on the speaking circuit.


The 2018 Winter Olympics takes place in Pyeongchang, South Korea from February 9th through the 25th. If you have a meeting during this time period, as Olympian hockey player, the Great Wayne Gretsky used to say, “Skate to where the puck is going to be,” and consider scheduling a Winter Olympic Champion to speak at your meeting.  Contact your IASB member speaker bureau to discuss your speaker options in this space.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin


The conclusion of the Democratic National Convention this evening in Philadelphia will mark the end of a highly-impactful 40-day convention cycle for the professional speaking industry. The Republican and Democratic National Conventions are bellwether events for the speaker bureau industry. Executives from the large Washington, D.C. and New York-based speaker bureaus will attend both of these conventions in order to position themselves as candidates to “sign” governmental officials at the highest executive branch levels to speaking contracts after leaving office,  identify the emerging party leaders (See Bill Clinton DNC Speech 1988 and Barrack Obama in 2004), and solidify relationships with existing media clients.

However, these two conventions really only have a business-impact on a small portion of the speaker bureau industry. The real convention of significance to 90% of the world’s speaker bureaus was NSAThe National Speakers Association – Influence 2016, held from July 23-26, 2016 at the JW Marriott in Phoenix, Arizona. The National Speakers Association is a professional speakers organization that supports the pursuit of public speaking as a business. Among the 3,500 NSA members are some of the best and most in-demand speakers, consultants, coaches, and trainers in the world. Being selected by your peers to speak on the main stage for this organization is a prestigious and important designation. Frankly, to be featured as a General Session speaker at this meeting means you are the best of the best. This year, The Speaker Experts were not surprised to see these four speakers up on the NSA Main Stage:


Waldo Waldman: Former Combat Pilot, Businessman, and Authority on Leadership Sales. Author of Never Fly Solo.


Scott Stratten: Disruptive and UN-traditional Sales, Marketing and Branding Expert. Host of UnPodcast










Roger Crawford: Disabled Tennis Champion. Author of Playing from the Heart and How High Can You Bounce?


Connie Podesta: Actress, Playwright, Counselor, Comedian, and Author of 10 Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd










The links provided above will take you to each speaker’s website, where you can view streaming video and gather background information. A note of caution: while these four speakers are among the world’s elite, they are not the right fit for every organization and desired outcome. The Speaker Experts suggest you consult your preferred IASB member speaker bureau to determine if they are a candidate for your organization.


The world of professional speaking is a complex and multi-tiered industry. Three conventions took place within the last 40 days that will have tremendous impact on this trade over the years to come. Obviously, the RNC and DNC are huge media events, whose ultimate outcome have dramatic and lasting effects on our daily lives, but it just might be the NSA Convention that has the most impact on the world of professional speaking.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin


Last month, speaker bureau industry leader Washington Speakers Bureau announced a change in their co-broker pricing structure that should be noted by those who schedule paid professional speakers. A letter from Vice President of Bureau Relations Sheldon Bream stated the following:

I wanted to let you know that WSB is changing our pricing structure for more than half of our exclusive speakers. Those speakers will now be priced at a gross fee (split commission) while some will remain at a “net to WSB” fee.

This modified policy represents a philosophical pivot from their announcement reported in our January 2015 posting, “Washington Speakers Bureau Co-Brokering Policy Change: What It Means to You” that indicated the firm would no longer be willing to “split commissions” on any of their speakers.

Real Estate CBSThe Speaker Experts offer no judgment as to why they made this strategic policy shift. Our only concern is the impact this policy has on those corporate and association executives who “book” paid professional speakers. In our judgement, the policy change has little impact on the underpinnings of the co-broker model and the pros and cons of being involved in a co-broker situation.  Bottom line: if you opt to schedule a WSB exclusive speaker via a competing speaker bureau, your organization may or may not pay a higher speaking fee.

The actual price of the speaker is just one issue to consider when deciding if it is your organization’s best interest to be involved in a co-broker scenario. In our posting, “The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker,” we outlined how the co-broker process works and what it means to an organization scheduling a speaker. Followers of this blog know that The Speaker Experts are quick to point out “co-brokering” a speaker is rarely in your best interest, but there can be occasions where it might make sense for the organization. The key here is to know when you are getting involved in a co-broker situation. This is a decision that should be made by you, and not by a speaker bureau on your behalf.

The Speaker Experts have a vast industry knowledge of the speaker bureau industry and the exclusive rosters of all the major speaker bureaus. We are always happy to share this information with the readers of this blog.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin