Posts Tagged ‘lecture industry’

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:

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:

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


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

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:

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