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Understanding the different types of representation – Agencies VS Bureaus

Public Speaking tips

Many public speakers have misconceptions about how speaker bureaus and speaker agents operate. Speakers refer to agencies and bureaus as being the same – BUT they are not. Before committing yourself to either one, make sure you are well informed on what they will provide you as a speaker, and which type of representation will benefit you the most. Below is a brief overview of speaker bureaus and speaker agencies.

Understanding the different types of representation – Agencies VS Bureaus:

Speaker agencies

Agencies work for the speaker!

The speakers agencies client is you, the speaker. Agencies work in the best interest of the speaker. An agent has an incentive to get you booking engagements and higher fees with better contract terms, because the more the agent gets you the more the agent gets.

In most cases the agent does not seek out speaking engagements for the speaker. The agent works to get you more money and better terms, which is their most important responsibility. They speak on your behalf when it is uncomfortable for the speaker to request higher fees.

An agent does not “promote” the speaker to the organization or association groups, this would be handled by a marketing consultant who makes the speakers so noticeable that they don’t have to “knock down doors” to get engagements. They may actively promote their company, but in most cases they do not actively promote the speaker.

Now in some cases with smaller agencies I have seen them actively promote their speakers, but with the larger firms they don’t.

So when choosing an agency to work with, research them, their terms, and find out what they can do for you. Most speakers will want an agent that will actively promote them and “find” them speaking engagements, which is the ultimate goal of every speaker to have a booked schedule year after year.

Speaker bureaus

Speaker bureaus
work for the hiring company
– not the speaker!

One of the most common misunderstandings with a bureau is their representation. They work for the interest of the “hiring” company looking for a speaker and are paid from the “hiring” company. If you sign-up with a speakers bureau they do not work for the speaker, they actively promote their site but do not go the “extra mile” to get the speaker seen.

So when you sign-up to get a listing be expected to be listed with thousands of speakers just waiting for the chance to be seen by the “hiring” company. They do however cultivate relationships with a large number of associations and organizations.

Bureaus don’t represent the speaker in a sense that there is no promotion for each speaker. You may be listed under a category that carries an additional hundred speakers with the same topic.

Speaker bureaus are particular about who they work with. Do your homework and know how to introduce yourself so you peak their interest and make sure you have the proper tools that will help them sell you when a “hiring” company requests your material. If the bureau keeps its clients happy (the “hiring” company), then they will return to hire many more speakers. So if a bureau is doing their job properly then your chances of being “seen” are enhanced.

We hope you found this information helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

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