professional speaker

Optimize Your Speaking Business Through International Bookings.


If you’re a professional speaker and wondered what it would be like to speak internationally, take heed   from A-Speakers Bureau. The leaders of the speaker’s bureau gave a presentation in New York City to a group of professional members from National Speakers Association New York City Chapter. Soren, the presenter, warned us that there are two concerns European companies have regarding working with Americans: contracts and travel.

We were advised to keep our speaker contracts short and no longer than four pages. In some countries, professional speakers are hired through email and a verbal agreement. U.S. speakers need to explain all the legalese and special clauses because it scares off European companies from hiring them. In countries like Denmark, there are no contracts for fees under $10,000.

While speaking in Europe sounds glamorous, the reality is the fees are lower. The highest speaking fees are paid in the U.S. The U.S. also has a large association market which is not the case in Europe where the public sector (hospitals, schools, ministries) account for 70% of the bookings. In Denmark, 88% of bookings are for the public sector. France has a low demand for speakers. Germany values educational titles and credentials. Professors and PhDs should fare well.

The average speaker fee in Denmark is $2000-$2500. In Norway or Sweden, speakers would profit a little better at $3000-$3500 per keynote speech. In the UK, be aware that there’s a tradition of free speakers. They meet and speak in clubs. In Germany it’s possible to command fees of $5000-$15,000.  In the UK, decisions are made from the top down. The CEO approves everything. Denmark has a flat structure which streamlines the process. In the U.S. it may take 22 days to select a speaker. The same decision can take only four days in Denmark.

Europeans are also concerned about travel costs and are afraid they’ll be billed for first class travel. It was recommended that speakers quote one flat fee that includes the speaking fee and travel cost. Go online and estimate the travel expenses and use a currency converter.

When it comes to content, American keynote speakers planning to speak in Europe must guard against their own assumptions. Soren shared a growing trend in Northwest Europe that is the antithesis of the U.S. positive self- improvement movement. A popular psychology professor tells audiences it’s okay to say no to self-development and to want to be rooted in tradition. This trend started around 2008 during the financial crisis.

Overall, there is a demand for U.S. speakers. Europeans want inspiration but don’t worry if you’re not rocking the room. Europeans are not as responsive as U.S. audiences. And they don’t get excited by “free stuff’. In the past, the most desirable speakers were heavy on entertainment with less focus on information. Today the trend is shifting. While entertainment and inspiration are important there’s an increasing demand for stronger content. The most successful keynoters will create a change in the audience that they can go home and implement.

Speaking in Europe can be an exciting adventure to learn about other cultures and spread your message to an International audience. Do your homework and adjust your expectations and you’ll expand your speaking business beyond borders.


Press Release: Diane DiResta Interviewed for C-Suite TV

Diane DiResta, CSP, appeared on Best Seller TV/C-Suite TV, interviewed by Taryn Winter Brill. Ms. DiResta lives by the “gifted speakers are born, but effective speakers are made” adage, and shares her expertise on becoming an effective speaker during the interview.

Press Release: Diane DiResta Gives a Knockout Interview on WABC Radio

Diane DiResta, CSP, was interviewed by Yitzchok Saftlas, host of Mind Your Business on 77WABC radio, during the C-Suite conference at the NY Times building, in New York City. DiResta stated that, “Speaking is a leadership skill and is the new competitive advantage. You can no longer be without this skill.”

The GPS Girl's Top 10 Directions for Vocal Health for Public Speakers

I'm honored to have  Karen Jacobsen – The GPS Girl® – as my guest blogger. Read her top 10 tips for having a healthy voice. auto-325465_1280Whether you are a professional speaker or a business professional your voice is a key asset.  It’s the core of our ability to communicate, to get our ideas across and to be heard.  As a professional speaker and singer my voice is essential to my profession.  What I have discovered is that excellent vocal health happens to also result in excellent overall health.

Here are some of the ways I protect my voice on a daily basis:

  1. Be Rested

To maintain a healthy voice one of the basics is getting enough rest.  I have to make sure I am on top of getting a good 8 hours of sleep per night consistently to keep my voice in great shape.  Put sleep in your calendar like an important appointment (because it is) and prevent being run down.

  1. Drink a Crazy Amount of Water

This is an absolute essential.  I drink 6 - 10 glasses of water throughout the day (did you know that 80% of Americans are dehydrated?) and I also drink tea.  I prefer almost tannin-free tea and make sure I am drinking water and tea all day long.  If you need to, set an alarm several times a day as a reminder.

  1. Honey is My Secret Weapon

Honey has amazing healing properties, pleasant to taste and is very soothing.  If I am feeling a little tickle in my throat or I am vocally tired, I will have a spoonful of honey.  It's one of the ways I will fight off something, by having a teaspoon of honey every hour or half hour, especially before bed.

  1. Carry a Scarf

I carry a scarf with me 12 months of the year as I am often in some kind of artificially heated or cooled environment.  Even in the height of summer when walking into a restaurant or a convention room it is icy.  Being able to protect my throat with a scarf helps my body temperature and specifically my throat.  If I find my throat or neck is exposed and it is unusually cool I can catch a chill and it can be downhill from there, potentially leading to a vocal problem.

  1. Oil Pulling

We already know about keeping hydrated and I recently learned about an ancient Ayurveda treatment called Oil Pulling.  This is amazing for overall health, and involves swishing cold-pressed organic sesame oil in the mouth for between 7 and 20 minutes first thing each morning.  I learned this from a top New York vocal coach, Joan Baker, and a great side effect is a vast improvement in dental health.  There is a lot of excellent information online about oil pulling.

  1. Yelling is Telling

If you are in a loud environment and straining to be heard over music or talking, or at a sporting event, do not yell.  Do not scream.  Do not cheer super loudly.  It's something to be extremely conscious of to protect your voice.

  1. If it Hurts, Don't Do It

This may sound pretty obvious, but we've all been in a situation where we are a little too exuberant with our voice and it starts to hurt.  You may be giving a presentation and the microphone isn't working properly, or you are trying to be heard over loud music or conversation.  If it hurts in any way, it is hurting your vocal cords and could lead to major problems.

  1. Beware of Dairy

If you have to use your voice more than usual and know you will have to talk with people all day long at a conference or trade show, or with back to back business meetings when you are usually have a quieter workday in the office, watch how much dairy is in your diet.  It can create more mucus and the vocal passages are not as clear.

  1. Skip the Ice

In the U.S. ice is routinely served in cold drinks and this can lead to big vocal problems.  It can tighten or numb your vocal cords, and for me it just irritates my throat and leaves me more susceptible to a sore throat.  Always ask for water with no ice and wean yourself off ice in all beverages.  This can have an amazing impact on your vocal comfort.

  1. Clearing your Throat can Cause Injury

Do not under any circumstances 'clear your throat.'  This can actually injure your vocal cords.  Instead, take a sip of water, cough gently or swallow to clear the throat

Building the strength of your voice and preventing vocal problems is a lot more enjoyable than having them show up.  Rest, hydrate and pay attention to the way you are using your voice on a daily basis and enjoy excellent vocal health.  You might just feel so much better in the process.

Karen Jacobsen is The GPS Girl®, an entertainer who moved in 2000 from Australia to New York with a suitcase and a dream. Karen gives directions as the speaking voice of  “Australian Karen” in over 400 million GPS and smartphone devices around the world. A professional speaker, singer and voice-over artist, Karen travels the world speaking and performing concert-style keynotes to groups who want to be able to “recalculate” and give their best in business and life. Karen has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, NBC Today Show, CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, NPR, The New York Times, NY Daily News, Glamour Magazine, and was named one of People Magazine’s Most Intriguing People. Sharing the bill with Norah Jones, Neil Sedaka and Christopher Cross, she has performed The Star Spangled Banner at many major sporting events including the New York Jets game at Giants Stadium. Karen Jacobsen currently serves as President of the National Speakers Association-New York City.

For more information visit Connect with her @thegpsgirl on Twitter and 


Press Release: Diane DiResta Earns the Certified Speaking Professional® Designation

Diane DiResta has earned the Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) designation. Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of speaking experience and skill. Fewer than 12 percent of the speakers worldwide hold this professional designation.

Don't Monkey Around With Your Presentation

I read an interesting story written by Deborah Grayson Riegel, who was giving a presentation at the Bronx zoo. In addition to her human audience, there were 20 monkeys outside with their faces pressed against the window, watching her presentation. Each time she advanced her PowerPoint slide, the monkeys would bang their fists against the window. Eventually, she had to let go of her PowerPoint presentation, and stopped changing the slides altogether. Most of us are not going to be speaking at the zoo, but we will have our own monkeys to deal with - the usual cast of characters known as a difficult audience - hecklers, people causing distractions, zoning out, and generally interrupting your presentation. It's important to be flexible and work with your audience.

Speaking of monkeys... someone recently threw a monkey wrench into my half day presentation training workshop, which was scheduled from 1:00 - 4:00pm. We were told that four of the participants had to leave by 2:30. The program was designed to build speaking skills so the speakers would be prepared to give their final presentations at the end of the workshop. We had to do a quick redesign on the spot - in 5 minutes. My partner and I huddled and came up with a plan. The goal was to give each participant the opportunity to present, leave on time, and still gain enough learning to succeed in their next presentation. It worked.

In public speaking, as in life, we always need a backup plan. Deborah had no choice - the monkeys forced her to stop using PowerPoint. Your audience may be more subtle, but good public speakers pick up the nuances and can change in a moment to better serve their listeners. Technology will fail. And an audience can quickly tune out. We need to be able to go where the current is taking us. That's the mark of a professional speaker.

Why Public Speakers Fail

Professional speakers who are satisfied with the status quo will surely find their audience slipping away. Just like the car replaced the horse and buggy, dynamic, interactive presentations are replacing the talking head. Today, public speakers have to play a bigger game in order to give a Knockout Presentation. In a recent article entitled, Why Leaders Fail, the author cites the number one reason leaders fail and it's because they believe past success equals future success. There's a lesson here for public speakers and presenters. The article made me think about some of the public speakers I've heard. And just like in leadership, the rules of public speaking have changed. I've observed public speakers using an old time, one-size-fits-all presentation style. But what worked in the past, won't necessarily fly in today's market place.

Today's audiences are more sophisticated and demanding than ever before. The old, traditional method of the expert keynote speaker with the passive, listening audience, is an old model. Technology and social media have changed the game. Today, speakers engage their audience by using live polling for just-in-time responses, encouraging tweeting content, and interactive activities, even with large audiences.

Speakers have to look at their expertise differently and more creatively. It's not enough to be a standup keynote speaker. Today's savvy keynote speakers distribute their content through many media channels: podcasts, mp3 programs, white papers available on their websites, pre-program questionnaires or surveys, downloadable handouts, and youtube video clips. The focus has changed from "speaker-as-expert" to audience engagement and tapping into the expertise of the audience.

You can still take a horse and buggy ride, but it won't get you very far. If you want your presentation to have impact, you have to shift gears from giving a speech to taking a ride on the interactive highway and giving the audience an experience.

The Top Things to Consider When Booking Your Keynote Speaker

Back in September, I wrote about When Celebrity Speakers Fail to Deliver. This post generated interest and was re-posted as an article on the The International Association of Franchisees and Dealers' website. UK-based Business Growth Specialist Andy Gwynn commented that he liked my article and referenced his own list - The Top Things to Consider When Booking Your Keynote Speaker. I think this is an excellent list, so I'm sharing it with you.

How do you know that you have got the right speaker for the job?

1. What experience do they have on the subject that you want them to speak on?

2. Have you seen video testimonials of clients or attendees that have seen and heard them speak?

3. How detailed is their fact find of you when you speak with them?

- Do they ask you about your audience and what message /content/value you want them to deliver in their keynote?

4. Do they send you a comprehensive “speaker booking form” to help them help you get the very best value from booking them?

5. Do they ask about your organization's culture and the overall message or theme of your event?

6. What physical “takeaways” do they offer to give your audience, such as documents, downloads, books, cd’s, DVD’s, etc?

7. How focused on you and your audience are they compared to focusing on their needs, fees, expenses etc?

8. Can you speak with previous clients of theirs?

9. Do they ask you about your event and offer suggestions that might help?

- Like timings, sound and AV specifications, marketing.

10. Do they offer to stay behind after their presentation to interact with your audience or are they just going to “grab their money and run?

11. Do they offer any sort of follow up / contact or support for you or your audience?

12. How confident are you that they will “under promise and over deliver”?