The Truth About Speakers Bureaus

Do you need some helping finding potential clients who can hire (and pay) you to speak? Are you struggling to get started when no one knows who you are or what you have to offer? Wondering what it takes to break through the crowd of more established speakers? Do you ever wish someone with experience would just come along and guide you through the process… so you can get this message you believe in to the people who need to hear it?

If so, you’re in the right place…

The first thought for many aspiring or emerging speakers is, “I need to get listed with a speakers bureau!”

It makes sense, since speakers bureaus are, after all, in the business of booking speakers. They must hold the magic key to unlock the door to speaking success!

As someone who owns a speakers bureau, who’s been in the speakers bureau world for 17 years, and who’s served on the board of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus… I’m here to tell you that if you answered “yes” to any or all of the questions above, a speakers bureau is not what you’re looking for.

In 1999, yes, you would have probably needed a speakers bureau, since it was virtually impossible for a meeting planner to find a speaker directly.

In 2016, though, it is easier than ever for you to get yourself in front of prospective clients.

And, even if you’re still saying, “Yeah, but I’d rather have a speakers bureau do that for me…”

I’m sorry to say that, most likely, a speakers bureau is not going to do that for you.

Here’s why:

  1. Speakers bureaus are not, typically, “working the phones” all day to stir up speaking opportunities for individual speakers. Instead, they are fielding calls from organizations who are either inquiring about specific speakers represented by the bureau, or they are seeking the bureau’s expert advice to help them find the right speaker for their event.
  2. Most speakers bureaus have hundreds if not thousands of speakers on their rosters, so it’s almost a given that you’ll be lost in the crowd unless a client asks for you specifically, or…
  3. Unless you are one of the top 25 or top 50 “hot” speakers who are on their agents’ minds all day long.

Please don’t misunderstand me: speakers bureaus are not bad. They are good partners to have. But if you answered yes to any or all of the questions above, I’m just saying that a speakers bureau is not the partner you need right now.

Of course you can disagree with me and keep trying to beat that door down, but please know that I’m trying to help you.

I’ve talked to way too many speakers who have spent countless hours trying to get “in” with speakers bureaus. Many of them get frustrated and end up feeling ignored, and then the ones who finally do get “in” come to me a year or two later saying, “I still haven’t received one call from them (the bureau).”

I hate that. And there’s no need for that to happen to you.

The old saying is, “A speakers bureau doesn’t want you until you don’t need them.”

It’s pretty much true.

Unless you do the work to make clients start asking for you themselves, a speakers bureau just isn’t going to take notice.

Truly, the best way to get “in” with a speakers bureau is for a bureau to hear from a prospective client, “Sorry, we went with [Your Name].”

Translation: “We’re not going to be booking one of the speakers you recommended this time around because this other speaker (you!!) won us over.” I promise you, the bureau will take notice of you now!

Bureaus are looking for speakers who are proven, and, most often, speakers who are receiving at least $7,500 per speech. (Bureaus work on commission, remember.)

So, right now, I’d rather you invest your time and energy into something that is more worthwhile… and I’d love to help.