Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two)

Posted: December 1, 2014 in Finding Your Speaker Bureau
Thank you for the cards, letters, emails and calls requesting Part II of the 10 Questions to ask your speaker bureau/speaker agent. The requests to finish this post have been overwhelming. The Speaker Experts are delighted to offer the final 5 questions to complete the previous post.

6. Who is your favorite speaker and why? There is no right or wrong answer when posing this question to a speaker agent: you are not asking who the perfect speaker is for your organization (something we can only determine after a detailed needs analysis). What you are trying to gain here is some insight into what makes your agent tick. Their response will give you a window into their passion, level of energy and enthusiasm for the speaking industry. To borrow a sports phrase, here we are looking to find out what type of “motor” you agent has.

7. Who do you represent – the speaker or me? There is a right and wrong answer with this question – if the speaker bureau representative says he represents “you” then you might want to look for a new agent. A speaker bureau always represents the speaker. If you ever doubt this, all you have to do is read over the speaker bureau contract to understand that the agreement protects the speaker and not the customer. With that said, a professional agent will always balance the long-term interests of both the speaker and the customer during all phases of the relationship. You can have the best speaker roster on the planet but if you don’t have the customer base to support the speakers, you will be out of business quickly.

8. How long have you been with the bureau? Here we want to get some insight as to the representative’s on-the-job experience. If you are working with an IASB-member bureau, a new agent will be properly trained and educated before they start working with customers. Nevertheless, there is a steep learning curve within the speaker bureau industry. You do not want your annual meeting’s opening session to be part of a rookie agent’s learning laboratory.

9. What are your payment and cancellation terms? It is important to determine a bureau’s payment and cancellation terms early in the relationship-building process. The required deposits can range from 0% to 100% from bureau to bureau. Often the speaking fee and travel expenses will be non-negotiable but you may find some wiggle room in the payment terms. You will also want to have a firm handle on your fiduciary responsibilities in the unlikely event you cancel the speaker booking. Similarly, the speaker’s obligation to you should be spelled out in the event the speaker cancels the appearance.

10. Who do I work with once we have scheduled the speaker? You may be working with the most experienced, motivated and knowledgeable speaker agent on the planet, but if he is going to relinquish the reins to an inexperienced service department or internal representative once the event is booked, working with that “experienced agent” may not be your best option to begin with. Understand how the process works once the event is scheduled – will you be working directly with your agent, or someone else within the organization? If it is someone else, you will want to make sure they have high level of industry knowledge, energy and a clear understanding of your needs and desired outcome.

You can access the first set of questions for this post by clicking here. The Speaker Experts always welcome any feedback, thoughts or suggestions.Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

  1. […] Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two) December 1, 2014 […]


  2. […] Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two) December 1, 2014 […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s