PSU Insight

Marketing and Promotion

Just What Is a Speakers Bureau?

Now that you know which type of speakers bureau we’re talking about, what exactly is a speakers bureau? Many aspiring speakers have heard of ‘speakers bureaus’, but don’t really know what one is or what it does.

However, they are somewhat familiar with the concept of agents representing actors or professional sports figures, so they sometimes assume that a speakers bureau is like an agent for speakers. Not true. In fact, as you’ll see shortly, speakers bureaus are the direct opposite of agents in the most fundamental of ways.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand how a speakers bureau works is to examine a speaker’s relationship with a speakers bureau. Here’s how the relationship typically works between you and a speakers bureau —

  1. Let’s assume an organization is looking for a speaker. Rather than contacting possible speakers directly, they instead contact a speakers bureau and describe the type of speaker they’re interested in.

  2. The bureau then sends them information on a number of different speakers (possibly including you).

  3. The organization considers the different speakers, chooses one, and notifies the bureau of their choice. If the organization selects you as their speaker, the bureau then contacts you and arranges the details of the program with you.

Notice the relationship. Although you’ll be speaking to the organization, you’re in effect actually working for the bureau (almost like a contractor). And notice that the bureau isn’t working for you, they’re working for the organization.

This relationship has several important ramifications which you'll explore in future sessions. For now, just realize that a speakers bureau doesn't work for you, you work for them. That one understanding will clarify some of the mystery surrounding working with speakers bureaus.