This is a question I receive many times a week from Speakers: “When Is It Time to Join a Speakers Bureau?”

I don’t hesitate or blink an eye when I share: “when you are already booking yourself consistently for paid events!”

That answer usually leads to the next question: “what does a Speakers Bureau really do for a Speaker?”

With over 250 different speakers bureaus currently listed in the United States, most are thought of only as a listing service rather than as an extension of a speakers’ marketing plan. The major benefit is that the bureau handles the billing and contract negotiation with the event planner.

This is why it is so important for a speaker to know how a bureau operates before they sign on and enable someone other than themselves to find and book speaking engagements for them.

Once those two questions are answered the next one that always follows is: “what should a speaker ask and have in place before they actually reach out to a speakers bureau?”

Having once been a paid professional speaker myself, and knowing one has to keep current on what is going on in our industry, here are some key things I share with speakers that they need to know and do in choosing a speakers bureau; and also what they need to have in place for a speakers bureau to accept representing them:

  • Realize a speakers bureau does not take start up speakers; have to be consistently booking paid speaking events.
  • Check with other speaker friends to see which ones they are listed with.
  • Ask them if they are happy with their bureau.
  • Determine how the speakers bureau will handle your billing and event contracts.
  • Understand there is no better booking agent than you , however a speakers bureau can give you more traffic and increased bookings.
  • Have a defined business plan where you see a speakers bureau is not a replacement for your marketing plan, it is only an extension of it.
  • Be very cautious about signing with a speakers bureau that wants you to be exclusive with them.  Read everything you are given.
  • Determine how you are going to do business with a speakers bureau.  A lot of bureaus now do not have a signed agreement in place with the speakers they represent; but look at it this way, shouldn’t a speaker want one? As a speaker you have one with your clients, so why shouldn’t you have one with someone you are allowing to represent you to a client?
  • Make sure you have a total package to offer a speakers bureau, which you should already have in place to be able to book yourself. At my bureau my Executive Team reviews all our requests for representation using these quidelines:
    –   Been a paid professional speaker for at least two years.
    –   Have a determined Fee structure range.
    –   Provide evidence of consistent bookings and business plans.
    –   Have a Social Media strategy in place.
    –   Have current up to date Marketing materials which includes:
    One sheet, Professional photos, Professional video clip,
    Recommendations from clients,  List of paid clients,
    Updated website, Have a Social Media Strategy, and Current
    publications such as Books, Blogs, and Articles.
  • There is no guarantee a speakers bureau can get you bookings right away- timing is everything.
  • Event Planners seldom look to a speakers bureau for just one speaker, they usually want 3-6 speakers to look at before making a decision.
  • Choose a speakers bureau that has your best interests at heart, and wants to develop an open relationship of mutual cooperation.

I do my best to be a “Booking Bureau” rather than just a “listing agency”, as I do not want to waste a speaker’s valuable time, nor mine or my staff’s either. I spend the
biggest part of my workday, seeking and working with event planners and decision makers, to match and book the perfect speaker for their events.

I have learned this from our industry: A speaker does not have to compete or compare themselves to another speaker, they just have to be ‘in’ the competition, and know what event planners and decision makers of today are looking for!

Sue Falcone is the CEO of Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau. She has come full circle in her experience of being a former Corporate Executive that hired speakers, to becoming a sought-after speaker and author being hired, to now representing some of the most Remarkable speakers on the Planet for clients to hire.  Sue is a well respected thought leader in the industry of the ever changing world of professional speaking!

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