10 Questions To Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part One)

Posted: July 10, 2014 in Finding Your Speaker Bureau
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There are varying tiers of speaker bureaus, ranging from the big guns to the smaller shops; all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, but the common theme is the legitimate agencies all have track records of booking and delivering strong speakers. Unfortunately, anyone with a flashy website and pictures taken from other sites could easily pass themselves off as a “speakers bureau,” and many meeting planners are none the wiser.

The challenge facing any meeting planner is to separate the proven professionals from the internet impostors. Here are 5 questions to ask any agent that will make this important distinction:

1. Is your Speaker Bureau a member of the International Association of Speaker Bureaus (IASB)? A professional association that provides guidance within the lecture industry, its membership is comprised of the world’s leading speaker bureaus. To become a member, you must adhere to the values and practices outlined by the IASB, which are there to protect the consumer’s best interests.

2. Do you represent the speaker you are suggesting to me? Seems like a silly question, but some bureaus advertise speakers they do not represent in order to attract unsuspecting meeting planners to their site. The Fortune Article below will give you a little deeper dive into this practice: http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/03/19/8402336/index.htm

3. Have you seen the speaker deliver a presentation in front of an audience? Again, seems like a silly question – you would think that the lecture agent you’re speaking with has seen every speaker they represent. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case; it’s practically impossible for one agent to see every speaker in person. Good informed opinions can be drawn by studying video, talking with clients who have utilized the speaker  and meeting with the speaker, but as a customer you should know if your agent has seen the speaker live.

4. Who are the last three groups you have “booked” this speaker for, and when did they take place? This is one of the better ways to get an idea and understanding of the bureau’s track record of working with the particular speaker in whom you’re interested. If your event is a test case for this agency booking this particular speaker, you should absolutely know about it.

5. What can I expect from your bureau if my speaker cancels?  If the bureau tells you they’ve never had a speaker cancel, hang up the phone. They are either being less than candid or don’t have enough experience under their belt. Speakers bureaus are an asset to meeting planners because they have contingency plans for everything and anything that could go wrong.  Speaker cancellations do not happen often, but when they do, you want a qualified team of experienced experts to solve the problem ( particularly if you are already on site).

Tune in next time for Part Two, where we’ll examine 5 additional questions to ask  your speaker bureau.

Gary McManis & JayConklin

  1. […] 10 Questions To Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part One) July 10, 2014 […]


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