Run your Speaking Business like an International Speaker Bureau

attract bookers bookings fees get booked speaker bureau

Last month I was asked to share something special with PSASA (Professional Speaking Association South Africa) by Juanita Vorster and together we chose the topic of running a speaking business like an international speaker bureau.  Great topic.


Getting listed and working with speaker bureaus isn’t for everybody, it may or may not be part of your business strategy.  However, whether you do work with bureaus or not, there is a lot you can learn from how they do business.


Bureaus attract big budget enquiries; retain clients and they get paid upfront.  Who doesn't want a bit of that?  So, in this week’s Saturday missive I’m sharing 5 of the 10 tactics I shared with Juanita and her group so that you can do what bureaus do well and make more money. 


Now, you’d think that with Google, LinkedIn, and the many speaker directories there are out there, that Speaker Bureaus would be out of business, but they are not, they are thriving.  Why? Because they do 3 things really well.  




  • Attract High-Paying Clients
  • Make It Easy for Clients to Work with Them
  • Stay Relevant in a Changing Market



How do they do this?  Here are 5 tactics bureaus adopt to achieve these results and you can apply these too.  Here goes:


Have one target audience

Bureaus are looking for people organising conferences or events, that’s it.  Super simple.

Bureau websites talk to that one target audience and their needs only. Not to anyone and everyone.   So the starting point for you is to be totally clear on your audiences, who are they and are you speaking directly to them?  Is this clear in everything you do?


A simple website

Bureaus have hundreds and in some cases thousands of speakers on their websites, so they have to keep them organised and easy to navigate.  Speakers are divided into categories, topic areas, price ranges, to make it easy for clients to create a shortlist.   Only essential information that is needed is added to their websites.


Is your website easy to navigate, is it clear who you are, who you work with, what the outcomes are that you deliver?  Do you have the information a booker needs or is it information overload and overwhelm?


Keep clients informed

Bureaus do not hard sell, they position themselves as representatives or as consultants, not as salespeople, even though that’s essentially what they are.  Bureau agents spend their time informing rather than selling, they are sharing who is available, what they talk about, what they have done recently.  They are giving prospects and clients enough information for them to decide to book.


Are you letting bookers know what you talk about, what you’ve done recently and that you are available to hire as a speaker?  Where are you doing that, how often are you telling people about your speeches?  LinkedIn is a great place to do this.


Bureaus are constantly learning about market trends and what customers will want next

Bureau agents stay close to their customers.  They talk to them regularly, invite them to events, and meet them in person.  They ask lots of questions; they spend more time finding out about them and their industry than they do talking about speakers so that they are ahead of their needs.  That's how they stay in touch with what’s going on int the market.


When you speak with a prospect or are doing some networking are you asking questions or delivering a speech?


Bureaus take the risk out of the decision

Event organisers are risk averse, they fear making a mistake, they need reassurance that they are making the right decision when they book a speaker, after all many speaker fees are 4, 5 and 6 figures.   They go to a bureau for a 3rd party view and for a guarantee in case anything goes wrong.  Bureaus guarantee that if a client is not happy that they will get their money back.  Did you know that?  It’s why bureaus pay speakers post event rather than in advance.


You may not want to go as far as offering a money-back guarantee in some markets where clients might see this as a way of getting a free speaker but there are other actions you can take.  What are you doing to take the risk out of the decision for the booker?


Let me know how you get on and you know where I am if you need my help 😊


PS Need some help to be more bookable and charge higher fees?.

  1. Download one of our free how to guides here.
  2. Book a free consultation with me here.
  3. Binge read previous missives here.
  4. Join our free Speaking Business community here where you'll get inspiration, support, advice, and more.
  5. Grab our online training programme to be more bookable and make more money here.




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