What has the Internet
Clients now have easy access
to both bureaus and speakers,
often blurring lines and creat-
ing gray areas. Bureaus know
that “bureau-friendly” market-
ing materials mean little when
a client can find the speaker
with a few mouse clicks.
Speakers are concerned that a
client who knows them per-
sonally might ask an assistant
to find them, only to have the
assistant “Google” a bureau
that wants a fee.
The IASB Web Site
For more answers to frequently asked questions
about the speaker and bureau relationship, go to the
International Association of Speakers Bureaus Web
site at www.IASBweb.org. There you will find details
on accepted practices, bureau standards for professional conduct, and other information about bureaus.
What muddies the water?
A number of things, but “spin
offs” probably top the list.
To paraphrase the title of
Brian Clark’s play and movie:
“Whose Client Is It, Anyway?”
The fast answer is that it is the bureau’s.
Life isn’t that simple so that dreaded
“but” word keeps invading the equation. Here are a few “buts”:
The bureau gets the leads and nothing happens—or worse—it books
another speaker! While it is a rare
bureau that doesn’t follow up, some
are remiss in telling the speaker what
happened. It could be that the client did not have the budget or the big
boss liked someone else. Our view: The
leads are the bureaus’ and we have to
trust them to do the right thing.
Many speakers now offer training, consulting and online services. If a
bureau sells these services, how should
it be paid? What if the speaker sells
these services directly to a bureau’s client? Bureaus have different policies and
speakers have different opinions, so
communication is key.
Bureau A books you with
XYZ Inc. The bureau did its
job because you were the perfect speaker and they loved
you. True to your word, you
only send a thank-you note. A
year later, Bureau B calls with
an offer from the XYZ. What
would be your obligation to
Bureau A? Are you expected to
protect the bureau from competition? Most speakers say
no. After all, the client decided
on the bureau and clients have
the final say on the bureau
with which they want to work.
Not everyone agrees, so communication is key.
An old friend or direct cli-
ent sees you at a bureau-
booked speech and wants to
hire you. Do you owe the
bureau anything? The answer
is not clear. It depends on the relation-
ship. If you have not seen the friend or
client in decades, then the bureau prob-
ably has a claim. If you speak to the cli-
ent 10 times a year, then probably not.
Did we mention communication?
Sounds complicated. Is it?
Not usually. Once relationships are
established, it is usually easier to work
through a bureau than to go direct. No
The NSA/IASB Council
the council is made up of key members of the International Association of
Speakers bureaus (iASb) and select NSA
leaders. its purpose is to foster communication and enhance speaker/bureau
relationships—all with an eye to better
serving our mutual clients.the council
created the following guidelines to foster
smooth and effective bureaus/speaker
The NSA/IASB Guidelines
1. the speaking profession is all about
relationships. business partnerships are
the key to success.
2. Other than moral and ethical considerations, there is no right or wrong
way of doing business. it is advisable
that all bureau/speaker transactions
fully disclose net and gross fees and all
3. bureaus and speakers both have the
choice of who to work with and who
not to work with.
4. Respect the decision of the speaker
and the bureau in that regard.
5. Speakers and bureaus have the
responsibility to understand each other’s business practices and objectives
before doing business together.
6. partnering beats policy every time.