The Speaker Bureau Delusion: Debunking 5 Common Myths

There's a lot of BS out there about Speaker Bureaus.  A lot of people who don’t know what really goes on in bureaus telling others what’s what.  Let’s put an end to this and let me bust some of the myths you may have heard and believed.

If you are interested in working with speaker bureaus or you already are, but you aren’t getting booked as often as you’d like, this might be the newsletter to read.
Let’s dive straight in and look at the 5 biggest myths about speaker bureaus:

1. Speaker Bureaus work for Speakers
The name makes you think that they might, but I’m afraid they don’t.  The bureau client is the meeting planner - the person or team organising the conference or event where a speaker is needed.  Bureaus earn their money consulting with clients needing speakers, advising them on the best choice and then contracting both parties.

2. Bureaus are only interested in working with famous people
Although there are a lot of famous names on most Speaker Bureau websites, bureaus are also interested in working with less known names.  They are looking for the best match for their client’s needs and budget, and most of the time that isn’t a big name celebrity.  It’s the speaker who can deliver on the client’s objectives.  These are the types of speakers bureaus are most interested in:

Speakers that can say yes to one (or more) of the following:

  • They fill a gap in the bureau roster;
  • They speak on a topic that is relevant and current for the bureau’s clients;
  • They have a new approach or fresh ideas on a topic;
  • They’ve done something significant;
  • They are still active/working in their area of specialisation;
  • They have unique content, style or are entertaining;
  • They’ve sailed around the world in a garbage bag.

One of the above isn’t true, see if you can spot it? 😉

3. Being listed with a bureau guarantees you bookings
Many speakers believe that once they are listed with a bureau their work is done.  They can sit back and watch the bookings come rolling in.  I’m afraid it really doesn’t work that way.  See myth number 1 – the speaker isn’t the client.  Bureaus react to incoming requests, if you don’t fit those requests you aren’t likely to get booked.  The topic of getting booked once you’re listed is such an important area that I created a micro-course called “why your speaker bureau isn’t booking you” – grab it here if you’d like to learn how to turn that around: 

4. Speaker bureaus are all the same, it doesn't matter who lists you
Many speakers make the big mistake of approaching every bureau, usually with the same approach, to get listed with them all.  Before you do that, please take the time to research each bureau and find out more about them.  Find out what markets they serve, who their clients are, what types of speakers they work best with.  It’s all on their websites, in their newsletters and on their social media.  Treat each bureau as you would a potential client, do your homework before contacting them. 

5. It’s a great idea to get introduced by a speaker who is already listed with a bureau
This was a particular bug bear of mine when I had my bureau.  It’s awkward.  Here’s how.  If I have a speaker on the roster that I have a relationship with, and they introduce me to their speaker friend I feel obligated to do something.  I may not be recruiting, I may not be interested, they might not be a good fit and I may be super busy.  But I must now take some action because I have a relationship with my rostered speaker.  If I then decide not to add that speaker to my roster I have another difficult conversation to have.  Please don’t make introductions in this way unless the bureau has asked you if you know someone you can recommend, or your speaker friend happens to be Bradley Cooper, then ignore everything I’ve said and call anytime day or night.  Hang up if my husband answers the phone.

Do let me know if this has been of help, I love a bit of feedback, especially if it’s positive 😊

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