Speakers Bureau

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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The advantages of working through a speakers bureau instead of on one's own are manifold. The biggest perk when dealing with a bureau is selection, as many of these groups are contracted with hundreds or even thousands of speakers. In the event that a given bureau has no pre-existing relationship with a speaker, chances are they know someone who does and can help broker an introduction.

A second major plus when dealing with a speakers bureau is convenience. Think about what you pay for other "convenience" services in your life such as pizza delivery, maids, or taxis. Parting with anywhere from five to 25 percent more than you'd ordinarily pay, just for the reduced hassle of having to do it yourself, is customary. Speakers bureaus offer the same brand of convenience but, amazingly, often charge nothing for their services. How can that possibly be?

How Speakers Bureaus Operate

Like employment agencies, speakers bureaus take their fees from those they represent, not their buyers. From a speaker's standpoint, the volume of business they stand to do by hiring a professional broker easily justifies the percentage fee they give up for the added business. Think about an actor who has no agent but no work either. Zero percent of zero is still zero, no matter how you cut it. Now imagine that he or she agrees to pay 10 percent to that agent and, as a result, gets a 10,000-dollar gig. That's a grand gone, but it's also nine grand that never existed before.

Speakers bureaus work much the same way. The difference is that a lot of speakers already have more work than they can reasonably handle. Thus, the service provided by a bureau is not so much finding engagements but scheduling them, coordinating them, and handling their myriad details so the speaker doesn't have to.

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