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Event Planners: How to Benefit from Working with Speakers Bureaus

By Michael Frick, Speaking.com

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What Speakers Bureaus Do For You

The bureau’s job is to know where and how to find the right speaker for your event, send you materials to review, schedule conference calls, contract the speaker and facilitate financial arrangements. Speaker bureaus smooth the process for securing talent for your event and charge you nothing while saving you enormous amounts of time. Since speaker bureaus get paid from the speakers fee, they receive compensation only when you book a speaker they suggest.

Bureaus act as partners for researching speakers and finding the perfect match for your event. They can assist with determining the appropriate mix of content, personality and entertainment for the presentation. Finding the right speakers who can meet your needs and budget is the bureau’s objective.

Bureaus generally represent a large roster of speakers (ranging from local business experts to worldwide celebrities), and can also book speakers they don’t exclusively represent. Speakers bureaus work with professional speakers who are seasoned experts and have demonstrated excellent speaking skills, professionalism and expertise of their topic. The bureau interviews them, checks their references, reviews their performances in person or on tape and determines that they will deliver the best presentation for your event. Most speakers bureaus have worked with hundreds of speakers over the course of many years and can give you inside knowledge about a speaker – anything from how they performed for their last client to programming content.

Bureau Process

First, bureaus will ask you about the goals and objectives for your event and about your organization. During the interview, a bureau agent will listen to your program needs and assess what type of speaker would fit your program objectives and budget. Is your organization downsizing? Experiencing tremendous change & growth? Sales slow? Leadership need a boost? Interested in sparking a culture of innovation?

Next, your bureau agent will research the large pool of available speakers to develop a short list of the top candidates for your event. Your agent will then compose an email with links to information about the speakers you find most interesting (videos, profiles, program outlines, etc.). Finally, they will confirm availability for the speaker(s) you have chosen and will arrange all contracting, finances and presentation and travel requirements.

How to Maximize Your Bureau Relationship

Using Multiple Sources to Find Your Speaker

Since speaker bureau services are free, meeting planners will often contact numerous bureaus to help find a speaker. This can lead to confusion and wasted time. Instead of developing a close relationship with your chosen bureau and receiving a few excellent speaker suggestions for your event, you will be fielding dozens of calls and emails from various bureau agents and speakers.

By using numerous bureaus and/or contacting speakers directly, you can quickly diminish the time savings you would gain in the first place. Often, bureaus will not devote much time to these “multiple bureau” projects since they have less chance in closing a deal and the speakers they work with will be confused from multiple bureau contacts.

Communication

Bureau agents work hard to help meeting planners locate and book the perfect speaker. It’s important to clearly communicate throughout the speaker search process. Give your bureau agent as much information about your goals and your chosen event theme as you can. Provide clear and quick feedback on speakers they may suggest and keep them informed about your selection process.

The event planning process is fluid and fast paced, especially when committees run the selection processes. Your bureau agent knows this, so express any concerns or challenges you are facing, even if it means letting them know the budget has been cut this year or that you need help convincing a committee of the right speaker choice. Your bureau agent wants all your events – for years to come – to be successes.

If you are using other sources, it is always a good policy to let your bureau(s) know others you may be working with. Let them know immediately if you are considering booking a speaker from another source. This way, multiple bureaus won’t continue contacting the same speaker trying to secure “holds” for your event date.

Bureaus take care of many of the details for booking speakers — from locating the perfect speakers available for your event to contracting negotiations and programming details — which ultimately saves you time and money. Working with bureaus is a time saving and rewarding experience.