Guerrilla Intelligence Will You Get Paid

The National Speakers Association survey found that meeting planners were somewhat more likely to use unpaid industry experts (59 percent) than paid ones. Of those speakers who did get paid, almost 75 percent of them received less than $5,000 per speech. The big paydays—$15,000 and up—went to just 5 percent of speakers.*

The goal you have for a speech will help you decide what level of compensation, if any, you want. You may be willing to do it for free for the right audience.

•"Speaker Usage Monitor: Wave 1," National Speakers Association (June 2003), p. 10.

Ask meeting planners if they plan to videotape your speech. If so, negotiate to obtain a copy of the videotape for your future use.

Speakers' Bureaus

Speakers' bureaus or agencies book engagements for speakers. They are like bank loan departments: If you don't need the money, the bank will be happy to lend it to you. Similarly, when you are an established, popular speaker, bureaus will want to represent you. Celebrities are an exception, but unless you are well known or you have an impressive speaking track record, they won't be dying to represent you.

Bureaus charge commissions, which can be as high as 30 percent of the speaking fee. And keep in mind that they don't work for speakers, but for event sponsors. Bureaus have stables of speakers, some of whom may compete with you for the same engagements. Bureau agents are like commissioned salespeople.

Many bureaus require you, at your expense, to supply them with marketing materials, which can include a professionally prepared color brochure describing you and your credits, your photo, and videotapes of recent presentations. They then send those materials to event planners. Bureaus screen speakers and try to plug them into appropriate venues. Many bureaus also require that you have a "bureau friendly" Web site, which means that the speech and contact information links to the bureau, not the consultant.

Using a speaker's bureau is cost effective for well-paid speakers who are in high demand and have established speaking reputations. Unless you fit this profile, bypass these services.

► Step 3: Prepare Your Presentation

This step in the process can last for many months. Use the time to solidify your presentation and build relationships that will make your speech a worthwhile marketing investment.


After you've been hired to speak, arrange to meet with the event planners, including the host organization's executives and the event staff. They are usually well informed about both logistics and the makeup of the audience. Tsst your ideas on them and ask for their insights on how to customize your presentation. This is a chance to meet executives and staff when they are most receptive. After all, it's in their best interests to help you deliver a great speech. Think of event planners as clients, which they are.

Continue to network as you polish your speech. Some speakers send canned questionnaires to event sponsors in an effort to customize their speeches. Most of the information you'll need is available on the Web, and it's better to gather the rest by meeting with your clients and others who plan to attend the event.

Interview other experts in the field, including academics. Also try to meet with your client's customers. Discuss their problems and elicit their opinions. That will produce richer and more perceptive information, including first-hand experiences, on-point stories, and real-life solutions.

Obtaining such input will forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones because you are giving those you talk to a stake in, or even partial authorship of, your presentation. Their involvement can increase your support, visibility, and client referrals, and can lead to tips about future speaking possibilities. Be sure to mention that you'll tell the audience how the experts or clients helped with the speech, which will give them a return for their effort.

Add to Your Ammunition

As you polish your speech, look for additional ammunition to support your points. Find out what your fellow speakers plan to cover during the event so you can coordinate or differentiate your presentation. You may want to build on the themes of previous speakers; it's

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