Archive for the ‘Finding Your Speaker Bureau’ Category

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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.

Conclusion:

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.

Tip:

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

 

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Well, as many of our readers may have guessed, there is no Commodore 64,  no slide rule, and no complex algorithm that we use to identify the 10 most booked corporate and association speakers. The list is developed over the course of the year, as a result of our interactions with thousands of meeting planners, executives, and speakers. While there is no real “science” behind our selections, there is one common denominator: all of these speakers give at least 100 commercial presentations during the course of the year. On the intangible side, they tend to be asked for by name, are rarely available when we check their speaking schedules, and their speaking fees are continuously on the rise.

A couple of notes before we begin:

  • These are all popular world-class speakers, but it does not mean that they are the right fit for every meeting or organization. Consult with a Speaker Bureau you trust before scheduling one of these speakers to make sure they can achieve your goals and desired outcomes
  • Charlie Cook is exclusive with Leading Authorities International.  They are your best source to schedule Mr. Cook.
  • The reader can gather more detailed background, contact, and booking information for these speakers by clicking on the links provided.
It gives us great pleasure to present our followers with the 2016 List of the 10 Most Booked Corporate and Association Speakers:
Linkner J-Photo

Josh Linkner – “Last year’s ASAE Keynote List. This year’s Most Booked List”

start

Magic Johnson – “Triple-double on the court and on stage”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robbins M-Photo

Mel Robbins – “A recognized authority on leadership development, employee engagement, and motivation

Knight

Jim Knight – “Hard Rock energy comes to the corporate stage”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook

Charlie Cook – “Iconic Political forecaster in high demand during election year”

Scott Kelly

Captain Scott Kelly – “Back on Earth and at the podium”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daymond John

Daymond John – “Shark Week is not just for Discovery TV”

Levine A-Photo

Alison Levine – “Top of the Everest Speaking Mountain”

 

 

 

Abrashoff

Mike Abrashoff – “Third year in a row on ‘The List.”

Wahl

Erik Wahl – “The 3 E’s: Energy, Entertainment and Education”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion: 

Of course, it is impossible to identify the 10 most booked speakers on the speaking circuit, but you would have a hard time arguing with any one of the aforementioned speakers. The real trick is to target who will be on this list next year before it happens.

 

One speaker we feel to be a strong candidate is visionary corporate social entrepreneur Derreck Kayongo. In addition to being a compelling, engaging, and high-impact speaker, he will give the closing keynote session at the 2016 ASAE Annual Meeting this August in Salt Lake City. If past performance of ASAE speakers is an indicator of future corporate and association speaking demand, look for Derreck Kayongo to make this prestigious list next year.

 

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

To say last week’s post was not well received by our valued readers would be an understatement. Even Gary’s bride of over 25 years felt the post made little sense to anyone outside the speaker bureau industry. Consequently, we are going to skip the remaining two scenarios and the corresponding solutions. You’ll just have to trust us that there was an easy fix for both of them!

So, how is a meeting in Cancun of a bunch of speaker bureau owners and key agents relevant to the person who develops meeting content? Well the answer is pretty straight forward: the International Association of Speakers Bureaus selected and hosted some of the most in-demand speakers on the national speaker circuit, but the session that garnered the most conversation was, THE INDUSTRY PANEL.

The Speaker Experts make their living by “booking” paid speakers for association and corporate meetings, but we are also quick to point out that The Industry Panel can often be the most important and well-attended session of a meeting. One of the real keys to the success of such a panel is the role of the moderator. The importance of this job cannot be underestimated or taken lightly. Among other things, the moderator must keep the panel moving; get the best out of the panelists (while not being afraid to challenge them in a provocative manner); keep the topic relevant to the audience; and, above all else, end the panel on schedule so the exhibit hall opens on time.

The Speaker Experts feel there are three effective types of panel moderators or interviewers. Let’s take a closer look:


  1. The use of respected industry icons to facilitate the discussion or interview. A good example would be Tony D’Amelio and Rich Gibbons at IASB.  In this case, they both are very good communicators, but their stature within the industry is what commands the respect and interest of the audience and therefore creates excitement before, during, and after the meeting.


  2. The use of a respected Association or Corporate leader. These individuals are generally good communicators and speakers in their own right. They have am unparalleled understanding of the issues impacting the audience, and are able to lead the speaker or panel through a discussion that is relevant to the meeting. Below are a few examples of Association leaders in action on stage:
Volcker

NRUCFC CFC/CEO Sheldon C. Petersen interviewing former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker at the CFC Independent Borrowers Executive Summit 2015 in Tucson, AZ

Kat Cole

NRECA Senior Vice President of Education and Training Tracey Steiner interviewing Kat Cole at the 2016 Directors Conference in Austin, TX

David Gregory

WSWA President/CEO Craig Wolf interviewing David Gregory at the 73rd Annual Convention and Exposition in Las Vegas, NV


  1. The third effective type of industry panel moderator or interviewer is the use of a media professional. These experts bring instant name and brand identification to the session. They are world-class masters at keeping the panel interesting, relevant, and compelling. The panel’s advance work with the media professional will insure that the he/she is prepared, briefed, and has a deep understanding of the desired outcome for the session. Below are examples of the world’s most in-demand panel moderators and interviewers:
Karlgaard

Innovation and the Future: Rich Karlgaard – Publisher and Columnist for Forbes

Geoff Colvin The New Rules of Business 2013 Fortune Global Forum

Economy: Geoff Colvin – Senior Editor-at-Large for Fortune Magazine

2014 Texas Conference For Women

Human Resource Management: Soledad O’Brien – Chairman of Starfish Media Group

Susan Dentzer Medicare & Medicaid Next 50 Years

Healthcare: Susan Dentzer – President and CEO of NEHI

Judy Woodruff 1

Washington Politics: Judy Woodruff – Co-Anchor and Managing Editor of PBS NewsHour

Katty Kay Panel

International Affairs: Katty Kay – Lead Anchor for BBC World News America

Nina Easton

Business Landscape: Nina Easton – Political Analyst for Fox News and Co-founder of Sellers Easton Media


Conclusion:

An industry panel can be an effective educational element for most General Sessions. You can find out more about the media experts above by clicking on the provided links. If you are going to investigate the use of a paid media expert as outlined in scenario 3, The Speaker Experts suggest you discuss this with your preferred IASB-member speaker bureau.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Last week, we discussed the 2016 IASB Annual Convention in Cancun and the impact this meeting has on the professional speaking industry. The Speaker Experts did not attend the conference, but understand in talking to those that did (along with reading follow-up social media posts) that one of the most important sessions of the meeting was a “Burning Issues” discussion, hosted by industry titans Tony D’Amelio of the D’Amelio Network and Rich Gibbons of the prestigious West Coast speaker bureau SpeakInc.

We apologize in advance to our readers outside of the speaker bureau industry, as the post will get into the tall grass of the speaker bureau business, but we promise that the conclusion will have relevance to all who schedule professional and celebrity speakers.

The “Burning Issues” Session covered the topic of “co-brokering” between bureaus and things that “annoy, aggravate and anger.” A quick peek at our controversial post “The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker” will give readers some insight into the practice of co-brokering and its implications for those who “book” speakers. Tony and Rich presented five scenarios to spur conversation, create dialogue, and enable the attendees to walk out better equipped to handle such situations when they arise in the future.

Co-brokered speaker bureau contracts can be complex transactions often presenting a unique and challenging set of circumstances. There is often no “black and white” answer, and a group of lecture agents could spend hours discussing each of the scenarios offered by Tony and Rich. With that said, we feel that no matter how complex the situation, the ultimate answer can be found by relying on our three rules for positive co-broker outcomes.

Rules

Let’s apply these rules to the scenarios suggested by Rich and Tony.


SCENARIO #1



♦ You’re working direct with a client. They have a “hold” on one of your exclusive speakers. Out of the blue, another bureau comes to you with a firm offer for the same event. It’s for the full fee.What’s the right way to handle?

Solution:  While in most cases we believe it is not in the client’s best interest to take this course of action (please refer to our The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker post), the client has decided otherwise and, since this is America, the right way to handle this is to respect the client wishes and “co-broker” the speaker (please refer to Rule #1).


SCENARIO #2

♦ A client changes the timetable after the contract is signed. The time change means the itinerary the speaker had counted on does not work and impairs the speaker’s ability to get to their next event. The event date is just days away. What’s the right way to handle?  

Solution:  A contractual communication error was made by someone in this scenario. It may have been made by the customer, co-brokering bureau, or bureau representing the speaker, but an error was made. If the co-brokering bureau has a strong relationship with the customer and the “selling” bureau, there are any number of solutions that can solve the problem. If a solution can’t be found, then sadly this is one of those scenarios that falls under the 5% in Rule #3. Money is going to have to exchange hands in the form of a private jet charter, a cancellation fee, or other fiduciary solution.


SCENARIO #3

♦ A speaker (or manager/agent) discovers that the booking bureau is not only taking a commission, but is also marking up the fee by $1,000. Is this an ethical violation? If so, what do you do about it?

Solution:  You bet this is an ethical violation. If the contract had already been signed, we would have little choice but to complete the transaction, but Rule #2 would apply here. This bureau/person can’t be trusted and therefore we would not work with them in the future.


 

Next week, we will cover the remaining two scenarios and, more importantly, move the discussion back to the role an industry panel can play in creating educational content, excitement, discussion, and revenue at your Association Annual Meeting.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The International Association of Speaker Bureaus is the professional association that sets the standards and professional practices for the speaker bureau industry. Its members share a common passion: making a difference in the lives of others through the power of speech. The association’s membership is comprised of most of the world’s leading speaker bureaus and speaker management firms.

IASB held their 2016 Annual Convention last week at the Iberostar Hotel in Cancun, Mexico. Speaker bureau owners and executive-level employees converged on Cancun Iberostarto network, discuss business practices, strategize for business growth, and preview speakers tied into the meeting theme “Disrupt, Innovate, Thrive.” The latter is of particular relevance to the reader of this blog, who is tasked with evaluating and scheduling professional speakers. IASB can have their pick of the world’s leading speakers, as an invitation to speak before these high-powered speaker “agents” can result in increased income and demand on the association and corporate speaking circuits. Below are the speakers selected to present at the 2016 IASB Annual Convention. They represent a combination of established speakers, celebrities, and up-and-comers:

From left to right and top to bottom: Tim Sanders (CMI Speaker Management),  John Heffron (John Heffron), Lynn Rose (Lynn Rose), Robert Cialdini, PhD (Influence at Work), Felipe Calderon, Mike Walsh (CMI Speaker Management), Mel Robbins (See Agency), Freddie Ravel (Freddie Ravel), William Taylor (Washington Speakers Bureau)

You can reach these speakers or the speaker’s representative by clicking on the provided links. The Speakers Experts have firsthand experience with most of these speakers, but we are looking forward to doing our homework on the few we have not worked with in the past. Being selected to speak to the IASB membership is a prestigious and much sought-after honor in the professional speaking community. A speaker who receives such an invite most certainly knows his or her way around behind the podium and on stage. Of course, as we have repeated in this blog over the last few years, it does not mean that these speakers are always the right fit for your audience, meeting, or desired outcome. Your preferred IASB-member speaker bureau is a great first step to finding the right speaker for your next meeting.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Washington Speakers Bureau has recently partnered with eSpeakers to create an online directory of speakers in the $10,000-or-below fee range. The service is designed to be a resource for meeting professionals with speaker needs and a limited budget. WSBDirectConnect suggests that meeting planners use their directory as a shortcut to contact both up-and-coming talent scouted by WSB, and seasoned professionals who have been speaking for years instead of a generic Google search. The Speaker Experts were intrigued by this =concept so we decided take the WSB cyber-speaker “dealership” website for a test drive.

In order to report our findings, we borrowed a format used by our favorite Washington Post “On Wheels” Automotive columnist Warren Brown.

racing cam

Ride, Acceleration and Handling: The site gets high marks in all three areas. The speaker name recognition acceleration lacks the performance of a 6.2 Liter Hemi V-8 Challenger Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice engine, but it compensates with nimble handling and elegantly outfitted options in every speaker category.

Engine Transmission: WSBDirectConnect appears to be equipped with supercharged, intercooled bandwidth that provides the driver with a blend of quick video-search capability, switching comfortably from speaker to topic area and back.

Safety: This is not a “full service” bureau site so you will not have the standard airbag, insurance and safety features enjoyed by those working with a “full service” bureau. However, the driver can feel comfortable that all of these speakers have been vetted by WSB and have undergone rigorous evaluation and inspection.

Head Turning Quotient: The site is turning heads within the speaker bureau industry as the luxury brand leader enters the mainstream shopping center parking lot market.

spark plug

Price: Per advertisement, the price as tested for these speakers is $10,000-and-under.

Capacities: This is perhaps the largest collection of speakers in the $10,000-and-under range on the Internet and certainly the best curated with ample room to add more.

Mileage: When utilizing speakers in the $10,000-and-under fee range, it is possible to receive more “contractual” mileage out of these speakers than their luxury brand counterparts. It is not uncommon for speakers in this fee range to add secondary sessions and other “value-added” components at no additional price.

Bottom Line: The Speaker Experts work for a speaker bureau and on the surface a site like this could be seen as a “threat” to our industry; however, TSE do not view the emergence of WSBDirectConnect in this manner. “Full Service” speaker bureaus are not going to be the solution for every group looking for a speaker – there are organizations and executives who have the time, preference and desire to research, vet and hire their own speakers. For those that fall into this category, WSBDirect Connect is a neat specialty tool to have in your meeting planner tool box. Overall, we are very impressed with this site but feel that technology will never fully replace the human connection of working directly with an industry expert from a world class speaker bureau. A speaker bureau agent you can trust will be your universal tool to research, consult and vet speakers. Learn about finding such an agent in our blog post “Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau” (Part One and Part Two).

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The feedback on Part I of our President’s Day Post was, for the most part, very positive and as you might imagine supportive of our first 2 selections for the Mt. Rushmore of Lecture Agents inductees.There are a couple of wiseacres out there who reached out to The Speaker Experts so we will respond to their comments before completing the monument.

  • Yes, the Speaker Agents can be bought but it’s going to take more than that!
  • Yes, we are sure there are some great lecture agents in other parts of the world but this is an American Holiday and monument.

Now back to the final two selections who will complete the Lecture Agent Mt. Rushmore.

FosterIf I am a Washington, DC Association Executive or Meeting Planner, the person I call to discuss speakers is Rainey Foster. (A note of disclosure here: one Speaker Expert went to Langley High School located on the mean streets of McLean, VA with Rainey while the other Speaker Expert’s father was part of that same class).

Rainey joined Leading Authorities International in 1996 she can be found there today as Partner and Executive Vice President. The Washington DC Association community is one of the most competitive markets in the lecture industry (see post on ASAE President John Graham) and Rainey is the number one agent in this landscape. To be successful here you need a certain set of skills; a set of skills that makes Rainey our Abraham Lincoln of the Lecture Agent Mt. Rushmore. She has the ability to work with both sides of the political spectrum, communicate at the highest levels of organizations as well as entry levels, and brings ethics and integrity to an industry that sometimes lacks in this area. In short, if Rainey tells you it is going to rain, you better get the umbrella out!

GunnerOkay, so what if aliens were heading toward earth intent on destroying the world and only thing that will stop them (Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Ghostbusters are not coming through the door) will be hearing the perfect speaker address the perfect audience resulting in tears, laughs and a spontaneous standing ovation. Yea, it sounds a little farfetched but we are Speaker Experts not Hollywood script experts. The lecture agent we would call in this situation is Eliot Gunner.

After serving in the US Army, Eliot joined American Program Bureau in 1980 and then became one of the founding employees at Keppler Speakers in 1983. It was at Keppler that The Speaker Experts, one for the better part of three decades, worked alongside Eliot. It gave us the opportunity to hear Eliot talk to clients on an hourly basis, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Eliot invented and perfected the “Keppler Speaker Needs Analysis”. The goal of the Speaker Needs Analysis was to determine the perfect speaker for every audience. When executed properly the lecture agent says very little and listens a lot. Eliot would be on the phone with clients for close to an hour at a time and might only ask a half-dozen open-ended questions. The end result was typically not a long list of speakers for the client to choose from but one or two speaker suggestions, that if the client accepted always resulted in a great outcome for the speaker and the client.

Where is he now? Eliot retired from Keppler Speakers in 2014, after a 30 plus year career in the Speaker Bureau Industry. He can be found at the Gulfstream, Santa Anita or Saratoga picking winners at the Racetrack just like he picked winning speakers. He still works with a few select speakers and clients and can be reached at emangunner@gmail.com.

Our Theodore Roosevelt of the Lecture Agent Mt. Rushmore is Eliot Gunner. He spoke softly and asked a lot of questions and would be the guy to call if you were going to book one speaker to save the world.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

As the story goes, NBA Hall of Fame inductee and player Larry Bird signed with the late legendary sports agent Bob Woolf after interviewing a number of high-powered sports agents and asking them who he should sign with if not with them. Each agent answered Bob Woolf. The Speaker Experts are on the receiving end of this type of question occasionally, being asked “…if you were not with Keppler Speakers and were going to book a speaker, who would you work with?” Our thinking has evolved on this issue over the years, and today the answer to this question now is that it depends. There are really four agents that fulfill the answer to this question, but it depends on the question seeker’s position within an organization, their speaker needs, and desired outcome for the event. The following four agents represent the Mt. Rushmore of speaker agents, and if there were ever a speaker agent Hall Of Fame, they would be inducted immediately. Let’s take a look:

Stern D-Blog PhotoIf I am a CEO in need of a speaker to consult and advise at the highest strategic levels, I would call Danny Stern.

Mr. Stern was President of the Leigh Bureau from 1991-2002 and spent 12 years in the speaker industry prior to that. During his time at Leigh Bureau, Stern signed and managed some of the world’s great strategic thinkers. He consulted with Fortune 500 companies at the highest levels, helping them select speakers that would shape their corporate strategy for years into the future.

Where is he now? Stern is with Stern Speakers, a speaker bureau that represents some of the nation’s leading thought leaders including Clayton Christensen, Michael Porter, Dave Ulrich, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Michael Beer, Nicholas Negroponte, Dov Seidman, Jim Champy, and others. Stern is someone you should speak with if your organization seeks a world class thought leader.

Stern is the George Washington of the speaker agent Mt. Rushmore: invested in the cause and a visionary leader.

D'Amelio T-Blog PhotoIf I am a senior-level corporate executive in sales, marketing, or business development, my first call is to Tony D’Amelio.

Tony D’Amelio started his speaker bureau career with Lordly and Dame in the early 1980s and then spent 27 years with the prestigious Washington Speakers Bureau. D’Amelio worked his way to Executive Vice President by having a keen understanding of the needs of his clients, along with the abilities of his speakers, to perfectly partner presentations. He may be the single most prolific speaker agent in the history of the industry and was a cornerstone to the success, development and growth of WSB for almost 3 decades.

Where is he now? D’Amelio took time off after his tenure with WSB to pursue a different passion: education. He is the founder and co-president of the premiere city-wide college scholarship foundation in Stamford, Connecticut, called Stamford Dollars for Scholars. D’Amelio is still active in the speaker industry today as founder of the D’Amelio Network LLC. His clients include some of the nation’s most requested speakers including Mike Abrashoff, Geoff Colvin, Katty Kay and David Meerman Scott.

D’Amelio is the Thomas Jefferson of our speaker agent Mt. Rushmore: intelligent, determined, industrious and hardworking.

Check back next week when we unveil the remaining two speaker agents who complete the Mt Rushmore of speaker bureau representatives. One is an association specialist whose Abraham Lincoln-type qualities build consensus in the fractured Washington, DC landscape. The other is the industry’s Theodore Roosevelt and the one agent I would turn to if the fate of the world depended the success of one specific speaker.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Along with champagne, noisemakers and New Year’s resolutions, 2015 brought dramatic news to the speaking industry – Harry Rhoads Jr. and Christine Farrell of the Washington Speakers Bureau (“The Five Most Influential People in the Speaking Industry”) announced their firm will no longer offer split commissions to speaker bureaus who purchase WSB’s exclusive speakers for their customers.

What this means to the meeting industry is direct and simple – if you choose to book an exclusive WSB speaker via any other source, your organization will probably be paying a higher fee. In “The Four Myths of the Speaker Bureau Co-Broker” we discuss what co-brokering is, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

This change in WSB policy represents a true paradigm shift in the speaker bureau world. Over a quarter century ago, it was WSB that championed the concept of competing speaker bureaus partnering to offer speakers to their customers. This concept, today known as “co-brokering”, was based on the principle that bureaus would split commissions so that in the end, the customer could elect to work with any bureau of their choosing at no fiduciary penalty. Today, WSB has gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction by telling the industry that their speakers are still available through other bureaus, but that those bureaus must mark up the fee by “10% or greater” if they would like to realize a commission.

The Speaker Experts offer no opinion or judgement as to the positives or negatives of WSB’s new policy. We are merely pointing out to our followers that this new policy could have a great impact on your organization should you opt to book a WSB speaker via a competing speaker bureau. Who knew in 1964 when Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are a-Changin’”, he was referring to speaker bureau co-brokering in 2015!

Finally, The Speaker Experts note the passing of an industry lion in Mario Cuomo. Governor Cuomo was represented by the Harry Walker Agency for years and was a powerhouse speaker in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. His passionate, cause-driven and dynamic presentations almost always resulted in standing ovations, even from organizations on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

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