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A snapshot into the lives of the people who hire us
Surviving a recession calls for some creative thinking on the part of speakers’ bureaus and speakers alike. Here, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, gets an update from Duane
Ward, 2009-2010 president of the
International Association of Speakers
Bureaus (IASB), on the economy’s
impact on speakers’ bureaus, future
trends and how they are helping professional speakers weather the storm.
Is the speaking profession
Absolutely! I could provide a list of
people who make a terrific livelihood as
public speakers. Professionals with an
intense focus and passion to challenge
others will always have a place in the
speaking profession, while those with
one static message will not last long,
regardless of the economy.
Do you recommend
In my view, there should be rationale
behind any fee reduction. If group A
pays $7,500 for a speaker keynote,
and group B pays $5,000 for the same
keynote the next day, there should be a
reason for the reduction; for example,
a “drop-in” city between two other
dates, family in that city, the client
is buying books in addition to the
fee, etc. If there is no rationale for a
reduced fee, then consistent pricing
will pay off over time.
Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE:
What are a bureau’s top
three concerns today?
Duane Ward: That’s an easy answer:
the economy, innovation and perception. The economy is cyclic, but, even
in a thriving market, bureaus are not
immune to industry problems. We
must continue to innovate, especially
in a down economy.
What future trends should bureaus
and speakers recognize?
Specific areas are the refined use of
digital marketing and the explosive
growth of social media. Speakers and
bureaus are quickly learning how to
leverage it as a business tool.
How are bureaus addressing
The economy has been an incubator
for what would probably be a normal
business cycle. Some bureaus have
intentionally found increased dollars
for creativity, branding and launching
new ideas. Unfortunately, other bureaus
have closed due to the limited client
base. The economy, however, is likely
only one factor in that development. As
the 2009-2010 IASB president, I can
say that our net membership base has
been consistent over the past year.
Are there new business models in
bureaus and in speaker-bureau
There is an increased openness to partnerships. Recently, I learned about two
bureaus packaging exclusives as a debate;
that is, each bureau brings a speaker with
an opposing viewpoint and the speakers literally debate on stage. Another
example would be two bureaus sharing
an exclusive because each bureau specializes in a particular market.
These are not new ideas, but economic factors force bureaus to think in
expanding models. This was a valuable
win for the bureau (added revenue),
the speaker (more dates), and the client
(access to a speaker who may have not
Duane Ward is the 2009-2010 president of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB) and the founder and president of Franklin,
Tenn.-based Premiere Speakers Bureau, which
celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2009.
Premiere is considered one of the largest
companies of its type with five different
divisions, including an office in China. For
more information, visit www.iasbweb.org.
Since founding McDargh Communications in 1980, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, has helped organizations and individuals transform the life
of their business and the business of their
life. She’s the author of numerous books,
including Work for a Living and Still be Free
to Live, The Resilient Spirit: Heart Talk for
Staying Rightside Up in a World Upside
Down, Talk Ain’t Cheap—It’s Priceless and
Gifts from the Mountain: Simple Truths for
Life’s Complexities. For more information,