I’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years. Some percentage of the clients I work with are speakers or other thought leaders. As part of this, in both managing my speaking business, and working with others in their speaking business, we’ve learned a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes. Here are some things going on in the speaking business that you may not be thinking about.
#1 The meeting planners are trying to minimize their risk. The meeting planner has a job to do. They want to put on a quality program and make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. These are very stressful times for the meeting planners. They want to make sure that they’re getting things done correctly, their audience has an amazing time, and they want to come back again. That’s largely how your meeting planners getting a review, so they want to minimize their risk. They want to pick speakers that are safe or they want good, dynamic, interesting speakers, but they also want to make sure it doesn’t blow up, and that’s important. You need to have the right videos on your website, the right referrals, testimonials, and other things to make sure that meeting planner knows that you’re a safe bet.
#2 Bureaus can add credibility. We worked with Betty Garrett at Garrett Speakers International and Wiley and Dunn of and Wiley and Dunn of WCD Enterprises, as speaker agents. When the meeting planners working with a credible agent that has stable quality speakers on board, that meeting planner knows that their risk is lower. The odds of getting a person who’s a complete dud or has a problem is less if they’re working with a bureau who specializes in booking speakers because the bureaus putting their reputation on the line too. That meeting planner usually has a much longer term relationship with bureaus who they may work with over and over again than with speakers who they may work with on a sporadic basis.
#3 You’re not really competing with other speakers. You have a thought, you have an idea, you have your positioning and sure individual conferences need to pick speaker A or speaker B, and they’re only going to vote for one or the other because they have a limited budget and amount of time. However, what you’re really competing on is getting a message that resonates with that conference. Sometimes it’s just a match, but sometimes it’s a matter of communication and making sure that the conference understands how your message can communicate with their needs.
#4 This is a long-term business. Speaking takes time to build a business. I’ve been surprised. As I’ve gotten involved in the speaking industry, it seems simple. You start speaking, people will start referring you to events, and you’ll start speaking more. That has happened to me to some degree, but it takes a long time to build a reputation. It takes a long time to move to higher levels and you need a lot of elements going for you. This is a game of patience. It’s not as simple as walk out there and getting high paying gigs. You’re going to have to build and build and build.
What’s been your experience with the speaking world? Where are you on your journey to becoming a speaker? Have you thought about some of the things going on behind the scenes in the speaking world?
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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Freeimages.com/photographer Wemedge.
About the Author
R. Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment, gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can email R. Shawn McBride or (214) 418-0258.