Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of frequently asked questions from speakers. If after reviewing this information, you have additional questions, please contact the IASB office online or by phone (480) 839-1423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q - I have written a book(s) - how do I go about getting on the speaker circuit?
A - Writing a book and speaking require two entirely different skills. It is important that you first polish your platform skills prior to contacting a speaker's bureau. Bureaus want to be assured that any speakers they recommend to a meeting planner will present an outstanding program.
Q - What materials do I need for a speakers bureau to sell my program(s) to meeting planners?
A - In most cases speakers bureaus require "bureau friendly" speaker materials. This includes a professionally prepared color flyer, one sheet or brochure, and a videotape. Speaker material that is "bureau friendly" does not include any of the speaker's contact information and allows space for the bureau to add their contact information.
Q - What is the commission rate that speaker's bureaus charge a speaker when the speaker is booked through a bureau?
A - Speakers bureaus are independent businesses that are able to set their fees as they see fit. Percentages are negotiated as part of the bureau/speaker agreement. It is important to understand your agreement with the bureau before you sign the contract.
Q - If I am being booked through a speakers bureau(s), can I also book directly with meeting planners without paying a commission to a bureau?
A - It depends. If a speaker has an "exclusive contract" with a bureau, all booking requests must go through the bureau that holds the contract. The other consideration is whether or not the booking comes as a result of "spin off" business and how that is addressed in your contract with the bureau.
Q - Why would a speaker want to work through a speakers bureau rather than booking all speeches directly with meeting planners?
A - A bureau is another part of the speaker's distribution chain enabling him/her to gain greater visibility in the meetings industry. Working through speakers bureaus is like having a straight commission sales staff. Bureaus allow you to leverage your ability to book more business and the only time you pay them is when they actually book an engagement for you.
Q - What is the difference between a speakers bureau and an agency?
A - A speakers bureau books speakers that are available to work with any bureau. Bureaus also co-broker speakers that have an exclusive contract with another bureau or agency. An agency, in most cases, only books those speakers that are exclusively contracted with the agency.
Q - What does it mean to have an exclusive contract with a speakers agency or bureau?
A - When a speaker has an exclusive contract with a given bureau or agency, all bookings must go through the bureau or agency holding the contract. It is a common practice in the industry for bureaus to co-broker speakers with the bureau or agency holding the contract. When this occurs the two bureaus split the commission.
Q - How much should a speaker charge for their work?
A - It depends. Typically in a free market system, such as what is present in the United States, supply and demand determine price - with that said it is up to each speaker to determine their fee. If you are just starting out, it may be helpful to research other speakers and compare yourself to them in regards to your ability, content, and demand.
Q - As a speaker may I work with more than one speakers bureau?
A - As long as you do not have an exclusive contract with an agency or bureau, you are free to do business with anyone you wish.
Q - When does a speakers bureau usually show interest in working with a speaker?
A - Speakers Bureaus want to work with those speakers that are in high demand and have proven their ability to do an outstanding job. Sometimes, a speakers bureau's client has requested a speaker by name or by a specific topic for which there are only so many 'content specialists'.
Q - What does it mean to have a "bureau friendly" website, videotape, and promotional materials?
A - A "bureau friendly" website, videotape and other promotional materials do not have any contact information for the speaker. Speakers bureaus use these materials with their clients so the client will come back to the bureau and not contact the speaker directly.
Q - Where can I find additional information on how to position myself to work with speakers bureaus?
A - There are several books available for purchase from IASB. Just click on the bar "Speaker Resources" which will take you to a page of resources for speakers. Several of these books will give you the insight for preparing yourself to work with bureaus.
Q - Do speakers bureaus specialize in certain types of speakers?
A - Sometimes. IASB has Members that have a market niche such as Sports, Celebrities, Healthcare but this is not the case for all members. Please note that even if a Member has a speciality, they may work with other types of speakers as well.
Q - If my program is geared toward a specific audience, how do I identify the bureaus I should contact?
A - The best approach you can take is to contact several bureaus and ask. If what you do is not a good fit then they may be able to refer you to a bureau that might work with the clients that would have an interest in your topic(s). Speakers bureaus know each other pretty well and know the type of clients with which they do business.
Q - How should I go about contacting speakers bureaus?
A - It is best to call them and request permission to send them your information. They will let you know whether or not they wish to receive your materials. If they say yes, it is suggested you put on the outside of the envelope, "Requested Materials Enclosed," to remind them that they asked you to send the materials to them.
Q - Typically, when is a speaker ready to work with a speakers bureau?
A - A speaker usually is ready to work with a speakers bureau when he/she is well paid (the amount varies with bureaus), in high demand, and has a reputation of doing an outstanding job for his/her clients.
Q - If I have a bad experience with a speakers bureau that is a member of IASB, what can the association do?
A - We encourage speakers and members to communicate with each other and work to resolve differences in a reasonable, professional and ethical manner. IASB Members have pledged to abide by the IASB Professional Standards established by the association. If you consider a member has acted in violation of these standards, you may file a complaint with IASB - click here for more info. Please note that issues involving financial, legal or criminal matters such as contracts, payment, fraud, theft, etc. should be referred to the appropriate jurisdiction for resolution.