Convention Speakers

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Convention speakers run the gamut from gearheads and marketing wizards to superstring theorists and ex-linebackers. Describe any job duties, and chances are there's a profession whose members handle them. What's more, if there's a formal profession that specializes in this particular business, there's almost certainly a guild or a trade group associated with it. Finally, if there's a guild or trade group, there are undoubtedly annual or semi-annual conventions sponsored by it. You can see where this is heading.

Think hard about the last convention you attended in which there wasn't some sort of keynote address. Pretty challenging, huh? If there was no keynote address in which all attendees were packed into a seminar hall or convention center, there were most certainly smaller workshops or discussion sections, often of the elective variety. At the very least, there was some sort of opening ceremony or address to kick off the convention or retreat. Whatever the case may have been, convention speakers undoubtedly lent their talents to the event.

Booking Convention Speakers

Some event organizers prefer to work directly with convention speakers. This sometimes involves nothing more than a phone call and a good faith agreement. The organizer makes an offer, the speaker accepts, and just like that the convention is off and running! As it turns out, this is rarely the case, especially when high-profile guests are involved. Now agents, managers, PR reps, and other flacks enter the mix, thereby compounding headaches. What results is usually a game of hot potato in which the organizer gets passed from one agency to the next.

The solution to this growing problem is for event chairs to work directly with speakers bureaus, most of which are contracted with the most sought-after convention speakers. One phone call to your bureau's account rep and the process is underway. That rep then deals with the speaker's representatives, thereby freeing you up to negotiate with hotels, caterers, limo companies, and the like.

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