Speakers Bureau

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.


Professional Speaking: How to Work with Speakers Bureaus

Palmer-20130729-00569 The dream of most professional speakers is to be represented by a speaker bureau or lecture agent. Unfortunately, professional speaking is like the acting industry. You can't get an agent until you're known. Bureaus have more than enough speakers. What they want most is more clients who will hire their speakers.But, if you have a unique and compelling message and a track record of excellence they may take a chance on you.

What is a speakers bureau? It's a middle man, or broker, for speakers and entertainers. They market to corporations and associations and match them with the perfect speaker for their event. They take an average 25-30% commission from the speaker's fee. The bureau or agent owns the client and any spinoff business.

Brian Palmer. President of the National Speakers Bureau in Libertyville Illinois, recently spoke at the NSA convention. He shared with us what buyers have told him about working with speakers. These are the mistakes they see, which he passed on to us. Here are a few of the highlights from his talk:

1. Pricing.

a.) Scrutinize your price and get it right. b.) Have a written policy under which conditions you'll alter your fee. c.) Measure the gap between your fee and what you actually book each month.

When you say you won't lower your fee, the average response from the buyer is "I had to ask that question."  Brian tells his clients if they want the speaker to lower the fee, they must put the offer in writing. "Make me an offer". It changes the equation.

2. Too many topics.

Have no more than three topics with great titles and descriptions. You can test topics, but don't list a bunch of topics. Customers care how you dress, how you speak, how you listen, table manners, interacting with the audience, your behavior. Be extra polite. It matters what happens off the platform. Companies want you to be aspirational.

3. Missed or ineffective pre-conference calls.

Brian calls these "hurdle raisers". Most of the time the conference calls are missed by the speaker. Don't do it. Prepare for the call and don't use a cell phone. The number one issue is talking too much when being briefed. It's important to be excellent on those calls. Be lively. Brian lost his client because the speaker was a "zero" on the phone.

4. Lack of personalization.

Companies bring you in to achieve some business end. Build your business around helping them achieve their goals. They don't hire you to hear what you have to say.

5. Selling too much.

Asking three times on the phone if they want to buy books is a bad sign. Don't go over their heads. He cited Joe Calloway as someone who gets hired over and over again. Joe gets brought in for consulting after his speeches. Don't ask before you go on stage if you can mention your book.  When you pitch, it takes away from your message. And, Brian cautions, "Don't add people to your mailing list unless they ask for it".

6. Image.

How you answer the phone, your responsiveness, impacts whether a bureau wants to represent you. Show up, be on time, be prepared.

7. A presentation that does not include both head and heart.

Phyllis Diller analyzed her laughs. Motivational speaker, Walter Bond, aims for less than a minute between big laughs. Every two or three minutes there should be a laugh. It could be a nodding moment, but there must be an emotional connection!

8. Poor quality demo videos. A speaker demo video should be longer rather than shorter. A three minute video scares people. Include audience shots and enough footage so the client can see a flow. Customers want an excellent speech.

The goal is to have a great video of a great speech. Brian mentioned Amanda Gore's 2004 preview speech as being one of the best. It was 20 minutes long and there was a thunderous ovation at the end.

9. Not being authentic.

People want to hire smart people that happen to speak. It's not good to have a website that's filled with speaker poses. Your website should not look like a speaker site.

While there may be many opinions about how to work with speakers bureaus, Brian gave the audience some good food for thought and valuable tips for developing a good relationship with speakers bureaus.