Posts Tagged ‘Christine Farrell’

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

Here is our list of the five most influential people in the world of commercial, corporate and association speaking, all of whom influence the economics and politics of the professional speaking industry. While they also may influence speaking style and content, that is entirely different list that we will save for another day.


5.  John Graham, President & CEO at ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership : Somewhat of a symbolic pick here, but Mr. Graham leads the American Society of Association Executives that represents over 21,000 Association Executives.   The Association community spends millions of dollars a year on speaking fees, but if you factor in the number of corporate groups who schedule a speaker after seeing a speech at an Association event, that number goes into the billions.  Associations are a force multiplier for the speaking industry, and John Graham leads that force.


4. Chris Anderson, Entrepreneur and Curator of TED Talks : Under  his leadership and stewardship, TED has transformed the way we in the meeting industry view the impact and potential of a session.  Who knew a relevant, impactful and entertaining message could be delivered in 20 minutes?  Prior to the emergence of TED, speakers were just getting “warmed” up at the 20 minute mark.  While the long form keynote session will always play an important role in the meeting world, the innovative approach taken by Chris Anderson to the short form presentation makes him one of the top 5 influencers. Of course, we cannot forget the man with the original vision of TED, founder Richard Saul Wurman.


3. Harry Rhoads Jr. and Christine Farrell, Founder and President of the Washington Speakers Bureau : No explanations needed here.  Washington Speakers Bureau is the largest speaker bureau with the most prominent roster of professional speakers in the world.  WSB has been a leader in the speaking world for over three decades and they continue that trend today.  Rhoads and Farrell are the chief influencers and architects at the top speaker bureau.  They make the list.


2. Robert B. Barnett, Partner Williams & Connolly LLP : Mr. Barnett is the premier lawyer in the world representing authors, broadcasters, and former government officials.  His clients include Presidents Clinton and Bush, Secretary Clinton, Alan Greenspan, Queen Noor, George Will and dozens more high-profile celebrity speakers.  When a high-profile government official leaves office, chances are their first stop will be a visit to the law offices of Willams & Connolly.  This may be the case when President Obama leaves office in 2017 as well.  Mr. Barnett’s roster of current clients and potential future clients make him  not only a high-powered Washington lawyer but a top 5 influential person in the speaker world.

Berners Lee

1. Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium : Another symbolic pick here, but the man who invented the World Wide Web created a paradigm shift in the way we research, view, promote, evaluate, negotiate and contract with speakers.   While Tim Berners-Lee was at the leading edge of this wave, Mark  Zuckerberg/Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook),  Dick Costolo/Biz Stone ( Twitter) and  Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn) all play major roles in influencing the world of professional speaking.

Of course the real “influencer” is the meeting industry as an aggregate – armed with the tools given to us by the aforementioned internet pioneers, meeting leaders drive market demand, price and the business of professional speaking.  We are a diverse mosaic of meeting influencers, but putting us all on the list would take too long so we have settled on these five!

Please let the Speaker Experts know who would be on your list.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin