Archive for the ‘Speaker Ideas’ Category

In our blog post “Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two)”, we pose the question “Who is your favorite speaker and why?” as an issue to discuss when vetting a speaker bureau or agent. Since publishing this post last year, The Speaker Experts have been asked this question many times. Frankly, we have a number of favorite speakers that make this particular question a very difficult one to answer. However, if we had to select the speaker with the greatest impact, it would be Dr. Beck Weathers. Why? After seeing him speak for the first time in 1998, not many days go by where we don’t think about his message from 17 years prior. His is a gripping story that sticks with you for years to come – one of heroism, bravery, and ultimately, the human struggle against the forces of nature.

On August 7, 2008, Dr. Beck Weathers retired from the speaking circuit after a ten year run as one of the most in-demand inspirational speakers. However, Dr. Weathers has agreed to accept a select number of speeches in 2015-2016 to coincide with the September 18, 2015 release of the major motion picture EVEREST. Josh Brolin portrays Weathers in the film while House of Cards Star Robin Wright plays the role of his wife Peach. The film also stars Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sam Worthington.

weathers nreca

Closing Session at NRECA Annual Meeting
Orlando, FL – February 25, 2015

weathers nada

Inspirational Breakfast at NADA Annual Meeting
San Francisco, CA – January 25, 2015

His first presentation back from retirement was a personal request from Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson asking Dr. Weathers to share his experiences with a select leadership group on Necker Island. Earlier this year, Dr. Weathers addressed over 5,000 auto dealer employees at the National Automobile Dealers Association Inspirational Breakfast. Last week he was the closing speaker at the National Rural Electric Co-Op Association Annual Meeting where he addressed over 7,000 of their members.

Dr. Weathers still runs a thriving pathology practice in Dallas but has agreed to accept a select number of speaking invitations for the remainder of this year and early 2016. If your organization is considering an inspirational speaker during this time frame who will leave a life-changing and lasting impression on every meeting attendee, contact your favorite lecture agent to discuss Dr. Beck Weathers’s availability.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The word “culture” took its place as the 2014 Merriam-Webster Dictionary word of the year, nosing out “nostalgia” for the honor (if you did have nostalgia and the “points”, you won!). This came as good news to The Speaker Experts, as orators on the topic of corporate culture continue to be in high demand on the circuit. And, after 30 plus years in the industry, we have never been asked for a speaker on the topic of nostalgia. The Speaker Experts spend a great deal of time listening to clients when they articulate their speaker needs and desired outcome for a session. When a client asks for a “culture” speaker, the request often comes in the form of one of the needs listed below – all fall under the Merriam-Webster 2014 Word of the Year, “culture”:

  • We are looking for a speaker on employee engagement
  • We want a speaker who will energize our workforce and increase productivity
  • We want to develop managers who create an environment of fierce company loyalty and emotional commitment
  • We want to create a customer experience that our competition is unwilling or unable to match

The Speaker Experts can’t tell you if the four speakers listed below are trending, or the most-booked or most-popular. BUT, we can tell you that they are four of the best in the business on the topics of corporate and organizational culture:

Jim Knight
Knight J-PhotoThe former Director of Training at Hard
Rock helps you amp up your culture

Stan Slap
stan slap

Chester Elton
Elton C-PhotoOrange may be the new black, but it is also
a management strategy

Kevin Kruse
kevin kruse CEO, Association Executive and
NYT best-selling author

On a side note, the Oxford Dictionary word of the year was “vape.” The Speaker Experts would be blowing vape at you if we said we got asked about speakers on this topic!

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The Speaker Experts interact with hundreds of organizations looking for professional speakers in the course of a calendar year. We methodically track the subject and content requests in an effort to determine the most requested topic for the year. This year’s runaway winner was “technology” – at least 6 out of every 10 organizations we engaged with were looking for a speaker on that particular issue. The Speaker Experts believe this trend will continue to hold into 2015. With this prognostication in mind, we offer eleven technology speakers to look out for in 2015. Many of these speakers have been in demand for a number of years, while some are emerging forces on the speaking industry landscape.

Industry Game Changer
Randolph M-PhotoMarc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix
Media consumption has never been the same.

Medicine & Healthcare
Kraft-D PhotoDr. Daniel Kraft, respected physician, innovator and inventor
A healthcare expert with an eye on future trends.

Social Marketing & Sales
Scott-DM PhotoDavid Meerman Scott, Marketing and Sales Strategist
Generating attention and growing business in real-time.

Technology Trends
Uldrich-J PhotoJack Uldrich, global futurist and popular author
A visionary for capitalizing on future movements.

Cybersecurity & The Future of Things
Payton-T PhotoTheresa Payton, former White House CIO
Offers data-protection guidance in the expanding digital world.

Williams-L PhotoLuke Williams, Professor of Innovation at NYU Stern School of Business
The Australian accent makes the theme of Corporate Disruption sound inviting.

Social Media
Erik Qualman, Best Selling Author, social media and technology expert
The “Equalman” name implies he has superhero powers…he does on stage!

Adventure & Exploration
Steltzner-A PhotoAdam Steltzner, Lead Engineer for Mars Curiosity Rover
Assembled and motivated his team to put a Volkswagen-sized robot on
a planet 249 million miles from Earth.

Consumer Trends
Sheryl ConnellySheryl Connelly, Chief Futurist, Ford Motor Company
Responsible for identifying global consumer courses that impact
the company at large.

Humanity & The Greater Good
Diamandis-P PhotoPeter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of X-Prize Foundation
Helps organizations create a culture of innovation and breakthrough opportunities.

Kaku-M PhotoDr. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and best selling author
Has the ability to make really complex stuff interesting for knuckleheads
like The Speaker Experts.

When your speaker selection committee lands on the theme or point of technology, it is important to drill down to exactly which aspect of the spectrum they have in mind. The list above represents a select snapshot of speakers within a number of popular technology subcategories.

The Speaker Experts feel that demand for technology speakers will be strong leading up to the third quarter of 2015. Look for a slight market correction during the fourth quarter as organizations mold their meeting themes around the 2016 General Election. Check back with the Speaker Experts later next year for our list of political and policy speakers to consider for your Legislative and Annual Meetings.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

Hollywood loves an underdog – but not as much as the speaking circuit! Every once in a while a movie comes along that captures the imagination of the country. These very films remind us that anything is possible, and that extraordinary accomplishments can be achieved by ordinary people. These ordinary people have been on the speaking circuit for years, delivering inspirational lessons of overcoming obstacles and achieving impossible dreams. Fredi Lajvardi is one of those speakers, and Spare Parts, starring George Lopez, is on a trajectory that could push Fredi into the spotlight. With a January 16, 2015 release date, Spare Parts is the story of veteran teacher Fredi Lajvardi (played by George Lopez) and a group of deserving high school students from Phoenix who end up defeating the reigning champion MIT robotics team in a national competition. Think Rocky meets Stand and Deliver! To get a better idea of the movie, check out this recently released trailer:

It would be a Hail Mary to suggest that “Spare Parts” will crack the following top ten film list that have influenced the speaking circuit, but the speaker experts feel it is possible:

Miracle (2004)
miraclePlayers Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig are two of
the most in-demand sports speakers of all time.
Sadly, Coach Herb Brooks passed away before the film’s release.

Apollo 13 (1995)
apollo13Jim Lovell, Gene Kranz, and Fred Haise bring
“Failure is Not an Option” culture to corporate America.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
pursuithappynessChris Gardner breaks the cycle of poverty.

Catch Me if You Can (2002)
catchmeNow FBI consultant, Frank Abagnale is the nation’s
number one fraud and values speaker.

The Blindside (2009)
The Blind Side movie posterNFL plus Oscar equals speaking
success for the Touhy Family.

Stand and Deliver (1988)
standdeliverJamie Escalate and Edward James Olmos were two
of the educational circuit’s most popular
speakers in the 1990s.

127 Hours (2010)
Aron Ralston makes 127 hours fly by on stage.

The Rookie (2002)
rookieA physics teacher turned left-handed MLB pitcher
with a 98 MPH fast ball, Jim Morris is still
bringing the heat to the speaking stage.

Moneyball (2011)
Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta and Michael Lewis bring
baseball sabermetrics from the field to the board room.

Remember the Titans (2000)
rememberthetitansThe Speaker Experts live in Northern Virginia
and do not remember the story going the way of this
Hollywood portrayal, but Coaches Herman Boone
and Ed Yost were powerhouse speakers.

Note:  We received an overwhelming amount of suggestions and questions regarding our post on the ten top military speakers of the past 30 years and three to keep an eye on.  With the news events of the past week, the answer is “yes” – Navy Seal Robert O’Neil is one to keep an eye on!

Disclosure notice: The Speaker Experts represent Fredji Lajvardi. We have a horse in this race but we feel it is a winner!

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

With Veteran’s Day right around the corner, the Speaker Experts have developed their list of the 10 most Popular Military speakers of the past 30 years. This list is only applicable to the commercial speaking circuit and it does not account for the dozens of highly sought after military speakers favored by military institutions and war colleges.

We input the following criteria into the Commodore 64 and, using a complex algorithm, gave weight to the following areas:

  • Longevity on the speaking circuit
  • Number of engagements booked throughout the speaker’s career
  • Speaking fee
  • Level of demand for the speaker
  • Historical significance in the military genre of speakers


Note of disclosure: Speakers outlined in red are represented by the Speaker Experts

General Colin Powell
Consistently one of the most in-demand speakers on the circuit

Captain Jim Lovell
Spoiler alert: Apollo 13 makes it back!

General Norman Schwarzkopf
Took the speaking circuit by storm at ground-breaking fee levels

Jim Murphy and Afterburner Seminars
Turned “Flawless Execution” into a brand

Captain Gerald Coffee
His reprisal of “Tap Code” will keep you riveted

Mike Abrashoff
100 + presentations a year, for over 10 years puts him on this list

General Tommy Franks
Led American coalitions to victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq

General Tom Kelly
Brought the Gulf War into our living rooms

Gene Kranz
“Failure is not an option”
Air Force Aviator and Apollo lead flight director

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Highest Ranking Military Officer translates
to popularity on the speaking circuit

Some of these heroes are no longer with us, and others are not as active on the speaking circuit as they once were. Nevertheless, the stories and lessons are timeless, and their relevance never wavers. There is no statute of limitations when it comes to the ideas and lessons of great military leaders.

Note to the reader: There are many speakers left off this list who merit consideration; they will probably be on this list five years from now. A few examples are General Stanley McChrystal, Marcus Luttrell and Captain Mark Kelly. All are highly demanded as military speakers but have not been on the speaking circuit long enough to rate as the most popular of all time.

On Veteran’s Day, the Speaker Experts are grateful to those who have served and therefore make it possible for guys like us to sit around and input information into an old computer to come up with a list like this.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The great hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. That quote is applicable within any industry, but has particular relevance in the world of professional speaking. Forward-thinking speaker bureaus are constantly trying to identify the next big speaker, and Hollywood traditionally has been a great place to turn to when an agent is looking for the next big thing.

History has shown that movies like Apollo 13 (Captain Jim Lovell), The Blind Side (Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy), The Pursuit of Happyness (Chris Gardner), and 127 Hours (Aron Ralston) have helped launch and sustain the careers of some of the speaking circuit’s most in-demand speakers.

The Speaker Experts have identified a number of upcoming movies that could be the launching pad for the next superstar speaker. Of course, past performance is never a guarantee of future results. Just because you are the protagonist in a blockbuster movie does not mean you know your way around the speaking stage – and there is never a guarantee the film will even make it to the big screen.

Listed below are a number of films to keep an eye on over the months ahead. Some are completed and scheduled for release, while others are merely projects that merit monitoring.


Million Dollar Arm
Film based on JB Bernstein’s book “Million Dollar Arm”;
Jon Hamm reprises the role of JB Bernstein.
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2014

Film based on Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz’s autobiography “Foxcatcher”;
Channing Tatum playing the role of Mark Schultz.
Scheduled Release Date: November 14, 2014

Spare Parts
Lajvardi_Lopez George Lopez to reprise the role based on Fredi Lajvardi, high school educator
Scheduled Release Date: January 16, 2015

Film based on Ken Adelman’s book “Reagan at Reykjavik”
Scheduled Release Date: In pre-production

The Glass Castle
Film based on Jeannette Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle”;
Jennifer Lawrence to star in and produce the film.
Scheduled Release Date: In pre-production

Brain Game
OmaluFilm based on Dr. Bennet Omalu’s work “Play Hard, Die Young”;
Will Smith rumored as the top contender to play Dr. Omalu.
Release Date: In pre-production

American Can
Keller_Smith Film based on true events during Hurricane Katrina;
Will Smith signed on as the protagonist, decorated Marine John Keller.
Release Date: In pre-production

The risk and the reward can be high when considering a speaker from an upcoming movie. If you get the right person, you may be able to secure them at a fraction of what their potential fee will be if the movie becomes a success. An IASB-member speaker bureau can help you navigate the risk and determine whether this type of a speaker makes sense for your next meeting.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

This evening the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks will kick off the 2014 NFL schedule. The season will culminate in Phoenix on February 1, 2015, with Super Bowl XLIX. Coincidentally, the first quarter of the year is also a popular time for National Sales Kick Off and “all-hands” events, as well as annual meetings. If you have an event that falls into one of these categories, a high-impact NFL player or coach is a natural consideration as speaker.

The Speaker Experts have fired up their Commodore 64 in an effort to determine the ten most popular NFL speakers, and have developed a complex algorithm that analyzes NFL speakers in the following four areas:

  • Visibility – Must have name recognition
  • Ability – Must be a world-class orator
  • Dependability – Must abide by contractual obligations
  • Availability – Must be someone who is on the speaking circuit and consistently accepting engagements



Archie Manning
Manning_imageMVP player, Hall of Fame Dad

Herm Edwards
Edwards_imageYour team will learn how to “Play to Win the Game”

Joe Theismann
Theismann_imageA Washington player has to make the list, right?

Rocky Bleier
Bleier_imageFour Super Bowl Rings and a timeless message

Terry Bradshaw
Bradshaw_imageSomebody had to hand off to Rocky Bleier

Merril Hoge
Hoge_imagePlayer, cancer survivor and hardest working man on ESPN

Mike Ditka
Ditka_imageTough on the field but his restaurant makes a tender steak

Lou Holtz
Holtz_imageCup of tea in the NFL but may be the best sports speaker ever

Emmit Smith
Emmitt Smith Visits FOX BusinessHe is a Cowboy, but definitely belongs on the list

Tom Flick
Flick_imageKotter management theory meets the NFL

*By clicking on the photographs above, you will be directed to the speaker’s website or their representative. You can also contact your favorite speakers bureau for help determining if one of these personalities is a good fit for your meeting.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

A lecture agent predicting the next “hot” business speaker is similar to an economist forecasting the next recession; the good ones are able to predict “nine out of the last five” (apology to Paul Samuelson). In other words, this stuff is not science and there are no certainties when it comes to looking into the “hot” speaker crystal ball.

If you are attempting to capture lightening in a bottle, one good place to start is with established high-impact speakers who have upcoming book releases. The key is to make sure you are looking at individuals who have a proven track record as speakers in order to negate risk.

    1. If you guess correctly and the book becomes a best-seller, you will have an in-demand speaker scheduled at a below-market fee when the speaker is getting a ton of publicity.
    1. If you guess incorrectly, and the book does not gain traction, you still have a great speaker.
    1. You want to avoid taking a shot on an author that does not have a speaking background; you might get lucky but it is not sure thing.

Here are ten high-impact speakers who have books coming out in the near future. These are all world-class speakers with years of experience on stages all over the globe.

Release Date - September 30, 2014

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton – Best-Selling Authors of The Carrot Principle
 Release Date – September 30, 2014



Jason Jennings - Business Thought Leader and Best-Selling Author Release Date - TBD

Jason Jennings – Business Thought Leader and Best-Selling Author
 Release Date – TBD


Release Date - October 7, 2014

Susan Ershler – History-Making Mt. Everest Summiteer and Business Executive
 Release Date: October 7, 2014



Release Date - January 2015

James Canton – Futurist, Digital Entrepreneur, and Author
 Release Date – January 2015


Release Date - February 3 2015

Susan Packard – Founding executive behind CNBC, HGTV and Food Network
 Release Date – February 3 2015



Release Date - TBD

Jim Knight – Culture, Branding, and Customer Service Catalyst
 Release Date – TBD


David Meerman Scott - Marketing and Sales Strategist Release Date - August 2014

David Meerman Scott – Marketing and Sales Strategist
 Release Date – August 2014



Scott Stratten - President of UnMarketing Release Date - September 2014

Scott Stratten – President of UnMarketing
 Release Date – September 2014


Release Date - October 7, 2014

Clyde Fessler – Retired Vice President of Business Development for Harley-Davidson Motor Company
 Release Date (paperback) – October 7, 2014



Thomas Koulopoulos (CEO, Delphi Group) and Dan Keldsen (Senior Business Strategist, NFP Health) Release Date - November 11, 2014

Thomas Koulopoulos (founder of the Delphi Group) and Dan Keldsen (Senior Business Strategist, NFP Health)
 Release Date – November 11, 2014


Chef Jeff Henderson, America's Most Inspirational Culinary Star Paperback Release Date - November 3, 2014

Chef Jeff Henderson, America’s Most Inspirational Culinary Star Paperback Release Date – November 3, 2014









































Of course no matter how good the speaker is or how well the book is received, not every speaker is right for every group. We have provided direct links to the website of the speakers listed above, but check with your IASB member speaker bureau to determine if one of these speakers is a good fit for your organization.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

The Speaker Experts have assembled their list of the top ten most-booked speakers on the corporate and association speaking circuit (this list does not include the college or civic markets). There are no “Moneyball” type analytics or sabermetrics to determine the 10 most-booked speakers in America. This list is based on information gathered after interacting with thousands of meeting professionals, speakers, and speaker bureaus, along with market research (The Speaker Experts peruse a lot of websites) conducted throughout the year. Many of these speakers eclipse the magical 100 events a year figure, and the rest come pretty close to it.

A few notes:

– If the speaker below has an exclusive agency relationship, we have provided that bureau’s webpage address.

– If the speaker does not have an exclusive allegiance to an agency (otherwise known as “non-exclusive”), we have provided a direct link to the speaker’s  webpage. However, The Speaker Experts strongly suggest you work with your preferred bureau partner in scheduling one of these speakers.

Our Top 10 (in alphabetical order):

Mike Abrashoff

He has been on circuit for years, but his lessons are timeless.




Mike Abrashoff – Leadership Expert and author of New York Times Bestseller “It’s Your Ship”





Charlie Cook Head SHot

A first stop speaker for Fly-In & Legislative Conferences.



Charlie Cook – Editor and Publisher of “The Cook Political Report”






Still not sure which one is which, but they give so many speeches that the Speaker Experts feel there is actually a third Heath.


Dan and Chip Heath – New York Times Bestselling Authors of “Made To Stick” and “Decisive”






Sally Hogshead

Check out her website; the tagline is priceless.


Sally Hogshead – Brand Innovation Expert, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Creator of the “Fascination Test”





Daymond John

Don’t worry, it’s okay to get in the water with this shark.


Daymond John – Shark Tank Judge, founder of FUBU, and author of  “The Brand Within”





High energy, high impact and fluent in Spanish!


Kelly McDonald – Multicultural Marketing & Consumer Trend Expert







Dan Pink

His calendar is closed for the remainder of 2014 to focus on new projects – contact WSB for details about securing him for 2015.


Dan Pink – One of the world’s leading business minds and New York Times Bestselling Author







Peter Sheahan

Don’t let the laid back Australian accent fool you – Sheahan presents some of the most “tailored” presentations on the circuit.


Peter Sheahan – Business Transformation Expert and New York Times Bestselling Author






Simon Senak

Cool eye glasses and an edgy message.  He makes the list.


Simon Sinek – Leadership Expert and New York Times Bestselling Author of “Start With Why”






Erik Wahl

The values of his paintings are rapidly approaching his speaking fee!


Erik Wahl – Internationally Recognized Graffiti Artist, New York Times Bestselling Author of “UnThink”








Are these really the 10 most “booked” corporate and association speakers in America? We can’t say for sure, but they’re pretty darn close. Of course, being on this list doesn’t make any one of these speakers the right speaker for your meeting or event. The Speaker Experts will address finding the right speaker in an upcoming post titled “The Perfect Speaker for Your Next Event…..Has No Name”

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin