As a speaker, you have one main goal: share your ideas.
Sometimes it can be challenging to find the right bookings and make the right connections: the idea of signing up somewhere and instantly getting a full schedule can be very tempting.
But there are few shortcuts in this business and working with an agency or bureau will not instantaneously guarantee new bookings. The majority of agencies or bureaus are basically listing services who can sometimes help out with the billing and the speaker contracts.
Truth be told, you are going to have to do the groundwork before most agencies or bureaus will actually be interested in working with you: most won’t take you on as a speaker unless your are already charging a minimum of $3,000 to $5,000 per booking.
In the days before the Internet navigating the relationship between organizers and speakers was complicated, and having an organisation who would help build the connections was effective. But now speaker websites, SpeakerHub and Google, allow you to make direct contact with event organizers all around the world.
This being said, many speakers do find it beneficial to work with an agency or bureau.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Some bureaus and agencies have a lot of influence and long-standing relationships with various event organizers.
- Most agencies can help you manage your speaking business by taking care of billing and contracts.
- Agencies and bureaus make money and build their influence when you succeed, so they have a vested interest in making sure everything goes well and you get repeat bookings.
- If you have a very reputable agency or bureau, it can help build confidence with event organizers.
3 Questions to ask the agency or bureau to find out if they are the right fit for you:
- 1. How will the speaker bureau or agency help you?
Some agencies and bureaus will be able to get you in touch with a specific event, conference, or company to let them know you are available, but will then leave everything else up to you.
Find out everything that they will (and will not) do on your behalf: such as managing the correspondence and follow-ups, negotiations, planning, and logistics.
- 2. Do they have a specific industry or type of speaker they are experienced working with?
Sometimes finding a bureau or agency that works primarily within your industry or topic can help get your name to the right organizer.
Some are known to work with political speakers, while others work with top business experts. If you have a particular niche topic, find out if the agency has experience in representing similar speakers.
- 3. Will you have one specific agent or representative working with you?
Ask your speakers bureau who you will be working with. Having an individual agent who is able to learn about your topic of expertise, industry, and even your key audience will be a lot easier than having to re-explain your objectives to various different agents.
Consider why you want representation: is it to get more bookings? Or are you looking to bolster your reputation?
Having a clear goal in your mind will help you determine what kind of agency or bureau is best for you, or whether you need one at all.
If you already have a reputation as a great speaker, along with a SpeakerHub profile, a website, a great demo video and a few testimonials: you may already be en route to building a successful speaking business and do not need to focus heavily on finding representation - but you can use an agency’s help to find you unique or exclusive clients.
Lastly, think twice whether it’s worth signing an exclusive agreement with a bureau, which would mean they’re the only ones allowed to book you. Many speakers prefer to maintain the freedom to book your own engagements and create contacts: paying a commission fee to an agency fee needs to be justified by the added value they can bring you. .
Do you work with an agency or bureau? What would be your advice to newer speakers? Did the agency plan a large role in your road to success or is it better to focus on other avenues? Let us know.