Tips from the experts on booking and working with a speaker for your next great event

By Talent Bureau

Having worked in the industry for 20 years, we know the often overwhelming experience of choosing and preparing with a speaker for an event. If you are new (or newer) to booking speakers and talent, you might be wondering where to start. We’ve assembled a few of the questions most frequently asked of us regarding speakers, speaking fees, etc., and we hope our answers will help you in your search.

I’m not sure where to start. What should I do to prepare for a speaker search?

Before calling any speakers, ensure that you know your goals and your audience. Have an idea about the kind of content you’re looking for, but also be open to exploring different options.

Also be sure that your event date, location, and budget are figured out early so that you can determine the pool of speakers that is actually available to you.

How far in advance should I book a speaker?

We book speakers an average of 3-6 months in advance of the event. We are also able to help with last minute requests, but keep in mind that many of the more popular personalities have busy schedules, so booking early is almost always best.

How do I know a speaker is going to be good?

A trustworthy speaker’s agent (FYI: there are some bad ones out there) will offer honest feedback on his/her style, level of engagement, humour, content, and versatility, but you should always do your own research, too. Look for video footage online, read reviews, and explore their topic descriptions.

How do speaker fees work?

Speaker fees are often set and quite firm, so you don’t have to worry about getting taken advantage of with markup.

However, bear in mind that in the speaking industry, travel fees are usually not included. Make sure to identify where your speaker is located so that you have a better estimate of the cost.

How should I prepare with the speaker before the event takes place?

As your speaking agent, we use an event brief to get both the event planner and the speaker on the same page. You want to make sure that you provide your speaker with as much information as possible on the event, regarding your goals, audience, venue, and technicalities.

It’s best to make all your requests for your speaker early, so if you want them to do a dinner, book signing, etc., make sure to discuss it with them far ahead of time. Speakers will appreciate it if you can clearly communicate your goals with them throughout each step of the event-planning process.

What are the speaker’s technical requirements?

It’s always going to be different for every speaker, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve asked yours this question early on. Typically they will require handheld microphones, a projector and screen, and maybe a podium.

It’s also great to have other things ready for them that will make them feel comfortable. Provide water for before and after their presentation. A snack in the green room can be a nice gesture to help with pre-performance nerves.

Why should I hire a speaking agent?

Thank you for giving us the chance to give a little plug about Talent Bureau!! We work events all day, every day, which gives us a good sense of what works for audiences and what doesn’t. We strive to work closely with you, the event planner, as well as the speaker and to make the hiring and planning process as straightforward as possible. If you choose to reach out to us, prepare yourself for an open conversation where you can be transparent about your needs.

For other tips on getting the most out of your speaker, see what we’d suggest here.