A snapshot into the lives of people who hire speakers
Captivating Stories for Speaking
im Keppler founded Keppler
Speakers in 1983 “back when
audiotapes were the only way
of perusing a speaker,” he says.
The firm has grown to become
one of the most prominent and
respected booking agencies in the
world, representing heads of state, sports
legends, journalists, actors, executives and
leading business consultants. With “Real
People. Real Stories” as a tagline, Keppler
Speakers emphasizes captivating storytell-
ing as a major part of its brand.
Janet Bailey: What makes a story work?
Jim Keppler: One key is passion—the
sincerity and strength of conviction that
convey not only the message, but how
that message has made a difference in the
It’s important to match a speaker’s
strengths with the needs of the market.
When we started representing Cal Ripken
Jr. after he ended his baseball career, he’d
already done a million different things.
He had won awards, played with gifted
athletes, and had been involved in philanthropic efforts. We worked with Cal to
find out: What did you focus on to achieve
such excellence in your career? What
traits would someone need to be that successful? We recognized that perseverance
characterized his career. Businesses also
need to persevere through rough times
and slumps. My advice is to look where a
speaker’s passion is, then hone a unique
message that resonates with key market
the difference between talking about the
statistical odds of overcoming cancer, and
telling the story of somebody who’s done
it. Even in the most academic of speech
subjects, there is room to illustrate key
points via storytelling.
promotion process, and more extras
on-site. There are fewer speech slots available, and speakers are expected to be
more flexible to get the privilege of being
chosen for those slots.
How should speakers approach you?
Speakers need to do an assessment of a
bureau to make sure it’s the right fit for
them. Is the speaker’s subject matter in
the wheelhouse of that bureau’s customer
base? Does the bureau have obligations to
so many speakers that they will be unable
to get behind a new speaker in this genre?
You should be able to concisely sum
up your uniqueness. Speakers who have
researched our bureau and have a sense of
how they would fit into our customer base
are likely to stand out from the pack.
Jim Keppler is founder and president of Keppler Speakers, the largest privately held speakers bureau in the world. He has earned numerous
awards from the International Platform
Association, the International Association of
Speakers Bureaus and the National Association
of College Activities, and serves on the board of
directors of the Global Leadership Foundation
and the International Association of Speakers
Bureaus. Visit www.kepplerspeakers.com.
How can content-heavy speakers
discover compelling stories?
A high-content speaker can draw on firsthand experience or case studies. Think of
Do you notice any trends?
Customers expect much more from
speakers, including more preparation, more tailoring, more effort in the
Janet Bailey helps organizations improve focus and engagement hrough Precision Questioning & Answering, clear communica- tion, and mindfulness training.
Learn more at www.janetbailey.com.