A snapshot into the lives of people who hire speakers
Healthy Advice for Speakers
After meeting at he International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB) in 2006, Jo Cavender and Karen Kendig
formed Speakers On Healthcare, the
largest healthcare bureau in the United
States. They have enjoyed long-lasting
relationships with clients and speakers by
focusing on one industry and drilling deep.
Here, Colette Carlson, MA, delves into
Cavender’s 25-plus years of experience.
What is a fair travel allowance?
Take a solid booking year,
including expenses that
represent East and
West Coast travel,
and divide it by
the total number of
clients. Also take into account increasing
travel costs and that sometimes it’s more
expensive to fly locally or into a small,
Colette Carlson, MA: Do you think
speakers should create a niche, or be
Jo Cavender: Going deep allows you
to become the expert and go-to person
whether you’re a speaker or a bureau.
Describe an ideal speaker.
The speaker views the speaker-bureau
partnership as a team, and refers to it as
“we.” Following an engagement, in particular, the speaker should remember to
include the bureau in conversations with
How do you find speakers you want
to work with?
First, I check out speakers who are sharing
the platform with our speaker. If I see
someone I’m not familiar with, I’ll follow
up with the planner and ask for feedback or
a recommendation. If it’s positive, I’ll reach
out. When a speaker makes a personal
introduction, I take it seriously because he
or she is putting their reputation on the line.
How do you feel about receiving cold
calls from speakers?
It’s most effective if they wait until they
have a hook, such as a recent article published in a nursing magazine.
Given your involvement with
the IASB, what is a pressing issue
Trust is critical. It develops in face-to-face
meetings where clients and colleagues can
connect, so meetings will continue to be
important and necessary. Yet cutting costs
and maximizing meeting ROI is huge,
especially since meeting planners are
seeing more supervisory review of their
work. If you review speakers’ websites and
promo materials, too often features, rather
than benefits, tell the story. Both speakers
and bureaus must be able to articulate the
How can speakers help sell ROI?
All-inclusive fees, including travel
expenses, eliminate surprises for planners
and judgments. Obviously, you’ll break
down expenses for the bureau, as it would
receive only the commission on the actual
How do speakers annoy you?
Speakers should not call or send emails
inquiring if we’ve closed a booking. As
soon as I have an answer, the speaker is
the first person I call. It’s also annoying
when a client tells me that a speaker recommended someone for next year’s event
but failed to add that “our bureau partner
works well with that speaker.” This echoes
what I said about partnership.
What about speakers who view
bureaus as order takers?
It may look like order taking when the
client already knows who they want,
and they’re calling to check availability. However, the reason they called the
bureau is due to the rapport and relationship developed to date.
Are printed materials and
Clients love to view everything on the
Internet in our global 24/7 environment.
Do you have any final advice for
Stay with your topic, fine tune it, be the
best at it, and we’re going to hear about
you. Don’t be so concerned about building
relationships with bureaus, but build your
business and we’ll take notice when we see
In 2005, Jo Cavender co-founded Speakers On Healthcare to respond to requests from organizations for speakers on specific healthcare topics. She is
past president of the International Association
of Speakers Bureaus (IASB). Visit www.
Colette Carlson, MA, is a funny Human Behavior Expert who motivates thousands worldwide revealing the power of Speaking Your Truth! Learn more at www.