Speakers Bureaus

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Speakers bureaus are organizations that act as a one-stop shopping source for companies looking to hire a speaker for an event. Speakers bureaus typically act as managers of their talent (i.e., speakers) and employ people who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of conferences, trade shows and other special events. In addition to managing calendars and paperwork, speakers bureaus should also be available to answer questions about how speaking engagements work, what kind of speakers best fit certain situations, and how speakers have helped events in the past. If you are contacting a bureau to hire a speaker and they can't answer these questions, it might be time to start looking elsewhere.

Speakers bureaus may seem to be a dime a dozen, if you've done any research. There are speakers bureaus that have twenty years of experience, bureaus that specialize in specific subjects and bureaus that work across all subjects. The best type of bureau to work with is one that will truly partner with you, whether you are looking to hire a speaker or looking to hire on as one. The staff should be knowledgeable, professional and willing to talk to you about how you can work together to meet your short-term objectives and longer-term goals.

Working With Speaking Bureaus

Speaking bureaus offer two sorts of services: they can provide you with a speaker for your event, or they can represent you as a speaker with representation. Let's tackle item one first. If you are looking to have a speaker at an event, an ideal way to find a speaker is to ask people who have attended similar events for recommendations. In most cases, though, you are stuck doing your own research and finding a speaker who is affordable, available and will make you look like a superstar to your boss. Where to start? That's where speakers bureaus come in. Spend at least a little time researching companies and choose a few. When you are ready, call all of the speakers bureaus to compare rates, availability and knowledge of the staff.

If you are a speaker looking for representation, then you may have already heard of some reputable speakers bureaus. If you don't know any, they are easy to find. Simply type in "speakers bureaus" on any of the major search engines, and voila, you are given a list of at least a hundred. Now you have to choose out of the hundred. Do your research and take your time. Being represented means being in a partnership, and you want to be comfortable knowing that your agent at the bureau is going to give you the attention and help you deserve. Be wary of speakers bureaus that don't ask enough questions--you want to make sure you're in good company. On the other hand, if a company makes it too difficult to get the right person, you may want to look elsewhere. It's supposed to be a partnership, remember?

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