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Tips To Book A Speaker
By Andrea H. Gold   Printer Friendly Version

Advantages of Using a Speakers Bureau

There are thousands of speakers and trainers in the world. Finding the right ones to give the right presentation at the right time is the problem every meeting planner or human resources manager faces. The advantage of using a speakers bureau are:

  1. Have a wide universe of speakers/trainers to choose from.
  2. Provide you with an impartial judgment.
  3. Give you the best value for your budget.
  4. Recommend speakers/trainers they have screened.
  5. Do all the basic groundwork for you.
  6. Usually provide their service for no charge to the client.
  7. Can provide a back-up speaker (in an emergency).

What Does Your Audience Want?

Before you go shopping for a speaker or trainer, you need to ask yourself what you want the person to do. The answers to the following questions will help you to identify the type of speaker/trainer you need.

  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
  • What do I want the speaker or trainer to accomplish?
  • What do attendees want and expect?
  • What events may impact the speaker's or trainer's presentation?

What Are the Different Types of Speakers and Trainers?

  • Celebrity Someone who is known for being well-known
  • Industry expert Someone who is knowledgeable but is not a professional speaker
  • Politicians Someone who is or has been in political office
  • Professional speaker or trainer A full-time, subject matter and presentation expert
  • Free speaker Someone who speaks for little or no fee

Fee ranges of professional speakers and trainers

Fees vary widely. Usually, but not always, the fees reflect the popularity of a speaker or trainer. Speakers and trainers usually raise their fees as they become more popular. However, this is not always the case. Some speakers deliberately maintain a lower fee for personal reasons.

  1. Total range: Free to $100,000 for a presentation.
  2. Celebrities - $10,000 and up.

Although there are all kinds of speakers and trainers, we have categorized them into five basic groups. Understanding these groups will help you to organize your search for the perfect speaker or trainer.

All expenses are generally paid by the client. Make sure all details on expenses are recorded in the contract you sign with your speaker or bureau. All expenses should be reasonable. Your budget should allow for the following expenses: Hotel, meals (liquor should not be included) and transportation. Because speakers and trainers change flight bookings often, they cannot take advantage of supersaver rates.

What Should I Know Before I Search for a Professional Speaker or Trainer?

  • What is the date of the presentation?
  • What is the time of the presentation?
  • What is the purpose of speaker/trainer?
  • What is the format of the presentation?
  • What subjects or topics are you looking for?
  • What aspects of a speaker's or trainer's style are important to you? (energy level, content, humor, entertainment, participatory exercises, and projection of material)
  • What is your budget for a speaker or trainer?
  • Do you want to book a speaker/trainer for multiple presentations?
  • What are the demographics of the audience?
What should I consider about support material?
  • Are you interested in obtaining support material? (workbooks, handouts)
  • Are you interested in obtaining follow-up support material? (books, audio/video tapes)
  • Are you interested in taping the presentation?
What to expect from a speaker:
  1. Biography (bio sheet)
  2. Introduction
  3. Photo for promotion, if required
  4. Preprogram questionnaire
  5. Arrival in plenty of time for presentation
  6. Diagram of best room setup for speaker (sometimes)
  7. Audio-visual requirements
  8. Handout copy masters for duplication

How to choose the right speaker or trainer:

This is often a difficult process. Speakers and trainers have a number of different styles and presentations. The demo video may not reflect the specific topic or the specific style you desire. The following steps will help you to evaluate prospects:

Evaluate the speaker:

Brochures, video and audio tapes:

  1. Use the brochure to get an idea of the speaker's topics, experience, and background.
  2. Use the video to check out the speaker's style.
  3. Use the audio to check out the content and delivery style.


  1. Is the topic suitable?
  2. Does it meet the needs of the audience?


  1. Is it suitable for the presentation slot you chose?
  2. Is it compatible with your audience?
  3. Can the speaker deliver the right mix of humor, content, and stories?

Tips To Help Make Your Speaker a Star:

1. Have speaker's introduction read expertly

  • Speakers provide their own introduction
  • Make sure introducer is not nervous or uncomfortable
  • Read the introduction exactly as it is written
  • An adlib here may ruin the speaker's opening lines

2. Have a great room setup

  • Plan on setting up too few seats, to start (fills the front seats)
  • Have 10% less seats than estimated
  • Have more brought in as necessary
  • This makes you and the speaker look good
  • Insure adequate lighting
  • Too little light on speaker audience can't see facial expressions
  • Too much light on screen audience can't see projected information
  • Check audio/video system
  • Avoid uncomfortable temperatures
  • Know how to adjust temperature beforehand
  • Set temperature a little low, temperature will rise as room fills
  • Ensure a noise-free environment
  • Check what is happening in adjacent rooms
  • Have hotel commit to a "noise-free environment"
  • Use a riser when audience is larger than about 100 people easier to see the speaker

3. Strictly observe your time schedule

  • You need to keep entire program on time each delay may affect all programs that follow
  • Professionals always end on time can adapt their program to timing change

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