If you are fairly new to speaking professionally, you may be struggling to understand what it is that speakers bureaus want from you. It seems like a “Catch-22” – by the time they show an interest in you, you forgot what you needed them for! This is true, to some degree.
I get a LOT of speakers who want to be represented by the bureau. When I ask what their fee is, they say, “Oh, I’ll work just for my expenses,” or “I’m only charging $300.00.” Jane Atkinson, author of “The Wealthy Speaker,” put it well when she wrote, “Wait until your fee is over $3,500 and you have a demo video that rocks before even thinking about bureaus. (You never want your first impression to be a ‘so-so’ video).”
As a speaker, I know this to be true. I got a LOT more action from other bureaus once my fee was $5,000.00. Now that I charge $10,000 for a keynote outside of Nevada, I am more popular than ever with Speakers Bureaus. Remember, bureaus make their money from the commission they charge on YOUR fee. If your fee is $0, they won’t earn anything by booking you. Also, they have a reputation to maintain for booking first-class, experienced speakers. They need to know that you’ve done this before – a LOT! And, that when they book you for a gig, they will not have to worry about you showing up, saying the wrong thing, forgetting your program, not backing it up, forgetting your laptop, etc….maybe even just not showing up at the right location! A lot can go wrong. Spend a few years on the “Animal Circuit” – you know…Lions, Elks, etc. and a few years of speaking at Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, and any networking luncheons or breakfasts that will have you. Practice will help YOU to become a better speaker.
Remember, too, that you can’t be a DIVA when you are a speaker! I’ve rearranged entire rooms to suit my presentations. I know where the chairs need to go and where my laptop needs to be. Plus, you have to know what’s expected of you and how to deliver. Practice makes perfect. If you’re fairly new, pick up a copy of Jane’s book. It will open your eyes to many aspects of becoming a professional speaker – from choosing your favorite topic to the importance of being able to share specialized knowledge. It’s excellent.