A snapshot into the lives of people who hire speakers
There weren’t many speaker bureaus around when Diane Goodman, CMP, founded The Goodman Speakers Bureau in 1979. Based
near Hartford, Conn., Goodman developed a specialty in the insurance and
financial sector, which makes up about
80 percent of her bookings. Goodman’s
bureau has grown into a multimillion-dollar business representing celebrities,
authors, politicians, thought leaders and
experts in financial services.
Janet Bailey: How did you build
your bureau into a multimillion-dollar business?
Diane Goodman, CMP: I asked a
million questions, such as “How can we
serve this client in a way that ensures we
are part of their organization and part
of their team?” Our sincerity is evident
to clients and speakers. It’s not about
signing a contract and moving on.
Why did you pursue the Certified
Meeting Professional (CMP)
I’m past president of the MPI chapter in
Connecticut and I’ve always been active
in the meeting community. With our
VIP clients, we go on-site and take care
of all their speaker-related needs, interact with the meeting planning team,
and really become part of that team.
The CMP designation underscores my
commitment to my role.
How can speakers build their
You can differentiate yourself by finding
a niche, because you can’t be all things
to all people. I find it almost comical
when every speaker adds a new buzz-
word or phrase to their topic list, such
as “generational issues,” and calls them-
selves an expert in such a specified field.
I will respect you more if you say, “I’m
not the best fit for this meeting.” It
might take longer to build your busi-
ness, but the loyalty factor, trust and
referrals will pay off over time.
What else do you look for in a
We look for speakers who have staying
power and an excellent track record.
If they have spoken at incentive conferences or to top producers in the
insurance and financial services industries, it tells me they understand the
audience’s mentality and can deliver a
Our speakers must do whatever
it takes to make meetings successful,
including getting engaged with clients
via conference calls and by customizing content where needed. If you have
already been in touch with a potential client that we are also talking to,
embrace it by saying “That’s great, I
would really like to work with that
company, too. What can I do to help?”
How should speakers contact you?
Speakers can go to the “Speaker
Submission” page on our website for
guidelines. Credibility is important, so
it’s important to have references from
major corporate clients and a DVD—
not a You Tube link. Unfortunately, I
don’t have time for phone calls from
speakers who are new to us, but we do
review packages that are submitted in
search of someone is unique and dif-
ferent. When you watch a lot of DVDs,
you see the same thing over and over. I
want speakers who can make audiences
remark, “Wow, that was fantastic!”
Diane Goodman, CMP, is president and founder of The Goodman Speakers Bureau, booking speakers at hundreds of events each year. A founding
member of the International Association of
Speakers Bureaus (IASB), she has served on the
corporate board of advisors for Women Work! in
Washington, DC, and the executive boards for
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and
the American Marketing Association (AMA). She
is author of Survive the Search, a workbook that
helps meeting planners hire speakers. Visit www.
Janet Bailey helps organizations improve focus and engagement hrough Precision Questioning & Answering, clear communi- cation, and mindfulness
training. Learn more at www.janetbailey.com.