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Be a Hero at Your Next Event: Partner with a Speakers Bureau – Amy Crocker

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As a meeting or event planner, you are charged with a myriad of tasks when planning a conference. Often the most challenging of these is finding that perfect speaker for your event. The process often starts something like this ...

Step 1. Google "keynote speakers."

Step 2. Watch YouTube videos for three hours.

Step 3. Get frustrated.

Step 4. Repeat.

With literally thousands of options, finding the right speaker for your event can be time-consuming and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. By engaging a speakers bureau, you can leverage expertise, maximize your time, mitigate risk, and maybe even look like a hero when the event is over ... all at no cost to you.

What is a "Speakers Bureau?"

If you don’t know what a speakers bureau is, you’re not alone. When I started working in the bureau industry 10 years ago, it was completely by accident, as I had no idea what one was either. Using a speakers bureau to find a speaker is like using a real estate agent to buy a house. A good real estate agent is an industry expert who is with you every step of the way, from finding that perfect house to negotiating the contract and ensuring a smooth closing.

Leverage Expertise

Speakers bureaus are experts at booking speakers and entertainers, working mostly with corporate, association and nonprofit clients, and they’ve seen many of the speakers they book in a "live" setting. This experience allows them to recommend the best, most talented, most dynamic speaker, i.e. the one best-suited to meet your event objectives for your event. Even if you’re a DIY kind of person, it can be challenging to keep up on the hottest speakers, best-selling authors, popular TEDx speakers, those talking about recent trends in business and/or your industry. And even if you found a speaker you liked, how would you know if he/she is really good just by watching a 90-second video clip? Who else has hired the speaker before? Were they happy with their choice? Will the speaker customize their presentation? A speakers bureau knows which questions are important to ask and will get the answers quickly.

Effectively Manage Time

Using their internal database and industry resources and contacts, a speakers bureau will do all the research needed to put together recommendations that not only fit your budget but meet your event objectives. They will also make sure each speaker is actually available on the date of your event. A speakers bureau also coordinates calls to discuss content and customization, prepares contracts and invoices, and handles all event logistics. Their effort saves you oodles of time. And anxiety.

Risk Mitigation

Selecting the right speaker is just the beginning. A speakers bureau will negotiate essential contract terms as well as any "extras" you may want (pre-event activities, book signings, additional programs, etc.) from the speaker. And from the "your worst nightmare" category, sometimes a speaker cancels or can’t make your event due to an unforeseen emergency. While it is rare, it’s a possibility that deserves a back-up plan. If you’ve utilized a speakers bureau, they will use their vast speaker contacts to find the best replacement speaker for your event – quickly.

Where to Begin

There are lots of choices out there when it comes to speakers bureaus, so it’s important to find a bureau with a proven reputation for providing a high level of quality, service and value to its clients. Members of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB), are required to adhere to Professional Standards as a condition of membership. And having just returned from the annual IASB convention, I can attest to the professionalism of members who travel each year to learn from outside experts, and each other, in order to better serve clients and the industry as a whole. The volume of expertise and knowledge in this association is inspiring!

Having previously worked for a speakers bureau and now as a "speaker agent," I’ve experienced the speaker booking process from both sides. When an IASB Member Bureau books one of my speakers for their client’s event, I know the details will be handled with great attention and the client’s goals will be met. This sets my speaker up for success before they even arrive. And the meeting planner? They’ll be a hero.


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