Have you ever wanted the inside perspective of a speakers bureau?
Have you wondered how to appropriately approach bureaus, wonder how they work, or want to know what they look for in speakers?
In this week’s episode, we’re talking with speaking industry expert and bureau owner, Maria Franzoni to uncover all of that.
Join us for this episode as we unpack how successful bureaus work with speakers and the best practices as a speakers to be a part of one.
You don’t want to miss this one!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Check the Speaking Business Podcast: https://speakingbusiness.libsyn.com/
✅ Connect with Maria on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-franzoni/
✅ Download the free guide: How to Get Listed with a Speaker Bureau: https://speakingbusinessacademy.com/how-to-get-listed-with-a-speaker-bureau/
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. Now, today we are super excited to have London Speaker Bureau’s very own Maria Franzoni. Maria, welcome to the show.
Maria: Thank you so much, Taylorr, lovely to be with you over the other side of the pond.
Taylorr: On the other side of the pond. I wish it were a pond Maria, we’d be able to get together more often.
Maria: That’s true. Yes.
Taylorr: Well, for those of you who haven’t heard of Maria or London Speaker Bureau before, Maria has held senior positions with two leading bureaus in fact, CSA, Celebrity Speakers and London speaker Bureau, which was named by the New York times as the only international speaker Bureau. In 2007, she founded her own multi-million Pound Speaker Bureau as well. And she’s worked with the who’s who and the who’s that of the speaking world, including first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, business magnet Richard Branson and racing champion, Jack Villeneuve to name a few. I don’t even know if I named that last name properly Maria, did I?
Taylorr: Okay, I’m not even going to attempt that. Maria is the former co-chair of the European Association of Speakers Bureaus, Director of We Do Things Differently, Cultural Change Consultancy, founder of Speaking Business Academy and host of the Speaking Business Podcast. So, for our listeners who have listened to the Speaking Business Podcast, you are familiar with Maria and if you haven’t yet, we’ll definitely provide some links below. Maria, it’s so great to have you on. I think our very first question that we’d like to ask is how did you get started in this crazy world of the speaking industry? Tell us about your history and how it came to be.
Maria: Do you know what? Honestly, Taylor, it was a complete and utter accident. It was honestly. So, I had started, I had several careers. I had been in retail management, then I had gone into management consultancy, then I had gone into what we call educational travel, which was about bringing foreign students, adults at that time into the UK and general management in that role too and then I wanted a new challenge and I saw a really cryptic advert that said, can you negotiate at senior level? And I thought, well I’ve sat opposite CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and told them what to do without their companies and what’s going wrong and I thought, of course I can negotiate at senior level.
And of course, it was talking about negotiating with some of the great names out there. You mentioned Neil Armstrong, who was somebody I had the joy of working with. negotiating with that kind of person and also with obviously the counterpart, the client counterpart, who again, usually was quite senior. So, I responded this cryptic advert, and then I was told about speaker bureaus, I had no idea that such a strange and magical beast existed. And then I don’t know about you, but once you get into this industry, you just don’t want to get out of it because the people you work with and you meet and you interact with are just amazing. It’s like breathing…
Austin: You’re hooked.
Maria: Yeah, you’re hooked. It’s breathing in rarefied air is what I say.
Austin: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. There’s never a shortage of interesting stories to be told. And the best part is, is since they’re professional storytellers a lot of the time they tell them well, so yeah.
Maria: Fantastic. And for me, what appeals to me more than anything is that you are learning all the time. Because whenever you’re working with speakers, they keep improving and growing and learning all the time so you have to then try and keep up and the clients are sophisticated and they’re wanting to learn all the time so it’s nonstop. I’ve learned more in working through speaker bureaus than I have in any other job in, any other role I’ve ever had. Definitely.
Austin: Yeah. I was told at one point by another person working in the space too, it was like they were constantly renewing an MBA. Each year that they were working with different speakers they’re getting different perspectives and ideas and as you just mentioned, things are constantly evolving and they have to as well, and you basically get to go along the journey with them. So, I wouldn’t say by any means I’m even close to the expertise that a lot of these people have that are so focused and narrowed in on their one thing. But I’ve become sort of a Jack of all trades almost in a lot of ways. I know, at least a little bit about a lot of different subjects that you don’t get that type of information unless you read a lot of books let’s say or something. So yeah, it’s awesome.
Maria: And you become a really interesting dinner guest as well.
Taylorr: That’s right. It also is very interesting over dinner for those of you wondering. I think one of the cool things about the speaking industry too is like, I feel like in some ways speakers are all on a path to change one little portion of the world with whatever message they have to spread and the people that they help and the solutions that they provide and I think it’s just really cool that we can have a piece of that and we can participate in that kind of evolution. And I really believe that thought leaders are here to help us learn and become better and provide solutions and it’s just cool to be along for the ride and be a part of the industry.
Maria: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. It’s great.
Taylorr: So, about your bureau background. So, how did you get started with LSB? And I know you responded to that advert, but what was it like getting started in the bureau space and how did that evolve into your multi-million-pound bureau?
Maria: Well, actually I started with CSA Celebrity Speakers who are probably the longest most established business speaker bureau in Europe. And I had the joy of working with the founder, Alex Krywald, who sadly is no longer around he’s passed away, but he was an amazing brain. He really understood the industry and he really understood the value that an expert could bring to a client and really thought about it from a business point of view so it was great learning ground. And then I was sort of poached by London Speaker Bureau which was great, and when I joined them, they were quite small, there’s only about six or seven people actually and then over time it grew and grew and grew. And it’s lovely that you’re saying multi-million pound because probably most people listening on your side of the pond think of dollars, don’t they? So, pound is still more valuable than a dollar.
Taylorr: That’s right. Point that out.
Austin: Yea, right?
Maria: I don’t know at the time of this going out, it might change I don’t know. But anyway, let’s see, because we’re going through a few changes here as you know, so let’s see what happens there. But no, so what happened is that I worked with the London Speaker Bureau for several years help them to grow, help brought people in, help train people, they had huge success made a lot of changes, it was really wonderful. And if you know me you know, you will know Taylorr and you’ll know Austin, I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to be in charge and I liked it. And that as the organization got bigger and bigger, and I wanted to sort of have things go this way or that way you can’t take everybody with you to make certain changes.
So, I actually spoke to the founders, the two founders and said, look, you know, I really want to have my own business again. I had my own business in the past, I want to do it again, not getting any younger, I want that challenge. And they said for goodness sake, do not go out and competition with us, we don’t want you to do that. Why don’t you have the only UK based licensed office, as they call it and you can be like an external innovator who will help us to see other ways of doing things. And it’s interesting because when we started, it was 2007 that I did this, when we started, we were both sort of in parallel and going in the same direction and as you tweak and change things slightly, you find that you far more distance and sort of I’ve moved away and I’m doing slightly different things, which compliment London Speaker Bureau, and vice versa. So, it’s actually been a really good relationship and it’s worked for both of us really well.
Austin: That’s fascinating. It’s pretty impressive too, that they offered you to be in the same market that they’re in. I mean, obviously London Speaker Bureau is global at this point, right? But at the time, was it that way or were you really just operating in that same market together for a while?
Maria: Well, actually it was global at that point, too. Not as many offices as there are now but I wasn’t restricted to the UK market and I’m still not so I could work anywhere across all the markets. And it was a bit of an experiment and it was a bit of a risk, but it was an experiment and a risk that paid off. For me, it paid off, it allowed me to have my own team to be creative, to scratch that entrepreneurial itch that I’ve always had all my life, I’ve always wanted my own business, I’ve had my own business in the past. I like to do that. But it also, as I said allowed me to try things in a smaller organization so that then if they worked, they could be replicated. So, it’s worked incredibly well and I think we’re going to go into a new adventure soon as well. I can’t say too much more yet.
Taylorr: Oh, exciting.
Austin: [Inaudible 09:24]. I’m a little bit curious just because these terms get thrown around a lot in this space, but how would you make the distinction between, let’s say a bureau and an agency? How are they similar? How are they different? And if you had to pick a label, which one would you call yourself?
Maria: Yeah. And that’s really, really good question. I’d add another one into the mix, I’d add a manager in the mix and do you know what? It’s all blurred? It’s all blurred. It used to be very distinctive, it used to be that a manager would manage every aspect of an artist or the talent or the speaker or whoever it happens to be. They’d managed every aspect of it. And then an agent would have more people potentially, and they’d have other people and they’d usually specialize. Maybe it might be for that television, it might be for their books, it might be for their speaking and the agent’s job was basically to sell them and get them work whereas the manager was managing everything and looking maybe strategically and looking forward.
A Bureau, I always think of a Bureau as a bit of a warehouse really. A bureau has many more speakers than an agent would have, or a manager would have, and a bureau really serves the client who’s booking. So, it might be a corporate or a business or a government or whatever, an organization coming to you to find a speaker. The bureau serves them as opposed to serving the speaker, which is different from the manager and the agent. But it blurs because many bureaus now have exclusive speakers and therefore, they then either act as an agent for them or as a manager for them. So, it’s all very confusing. Really confusing.
Taylorr: Yeah. That lends some challenges to organizing and keeping track of everything. And what are some of the challenges with running a bureau, Maria?
Maria: Oh, my goodness, there’s so many of them. I think the biggest challenge is the volume of work. Bureaus, even now, even through a pandemic, we’re busy because of the space that we’re in, you were mentioning thought leaders, that’s exactly the space that we’re in and whether you’re in a pandemic or not, you need advice expertise for thought leadership that doesn’t change. What changes is how it’s delivered instead of being delivered on stage, it’s delivered the way we’re doing it now, the way we’re communicating now so, that hasn’t changed. But yeah, it’s the volume of work that you’re dealing with the volume of admin as well, because you’ve got to imagine you have to keep track of everything and make sure it’s always up to date and accurate. And if you’ve got several thousand speakers on your roster, you’ve got several thousand speakers’ profiles to keep up to date and as I said earlier, they tend to grow and learn and do more and start more businesses and write more books. So, that is a huge job just keeping up with the people you’re representing and keeping up to date with what they’re talking about and the expertise that they deliver. Actually, that’s probably the biggest challenge keeping up to date. That’s just huge job.
Austin: Yeah. You’re talking thousands of people that you have to keep track of.
Maria: Yeah. We’ve got about four and a half thousand at London Speaker Bureau, which is a modest number actually, because many bureaus have many more. The bureaus that do much more management and exclusivity will have fewer but we tend to have a small number that we manage inclusively if you like, and then the rest are not exclusive and can work through other bureaus too.
Taylorr: Definitely. That makes sense.
Austin: Make sense. I’m…
Taylorr: Go ahead, Austin.
Austin: I’m curious about something that you pointed out a minute ago. We say speakers all the time, the speaking industry and so on and we have a distaste might be a little bit too strong of a word, but we have a bit of a distaste at times for people that call themselves professional speakers. Because really, if you’re an expert, speaking is just one channel that you can leverage as a thought leader. So, from your seat, I don’t even know if you can quantify this or not, but how many of your speakers, quote unquote, would you say are just speakers? Meaning they just get on stages and travel around and, or maybe through zoom or whatever it may be, and aren’t also consultants and coaches and authors and podcasters and running workshops. Do you have any pulse on how many of your speakers are solely speakers versus how many are thought leaders in a more general sense?
Maria: Yeah. And I could kiss you because I totally agree with you with the speaker thing. You’re lucky you’re not in the same room so you have got kissed. I totally agree with you. So actually, and that’s the thing about speaker bureaus, we are interested in the experts. So, whether it’s a psychologist or a neuroscientist, or maybe it’s an entrepreneur or a CEO or an economist, or all of those things, or maybe an adventure even, or a gold medal winning sports person that they have a profession as opposed to being speakers and then the speaking isn’t extra. It’s what they do, it’s not who they are. I would say probably less than 2% are professional speakers.
And the ones that slipped through the are professional speakers at the top, they’re really great in their area and they’re very niche. But that’s the whole point of bureaus is we really are more interested in people who are out there doing it or have done it and therefore they’ve got, we say in the UK, they’ve got the t-shirt because they’ve done it and therefore, they can talk about it. That is way more interesting than somebody that speaks only.
Austin: That’s fascinating. Have you noticed a drop off in the people that call themselves, let’s say a motivational speaker at this point in the past few years? Because I imagine that somebody that is really out there to inspire may have a little bit harder time selling themselves through a bureau if they’re not an expert in one specific area, or is that a misplaced assumption on my end?
Maria: No. Well, for the last two and a half years, I’ve been training speakers and one of the first things I tell them to do is, do not lead with motivational speaker, keynote speaker, international speaker. Don’t lead with that, that is not what you lead with. You lead with either the result that you bring or the expertise that you have. And the thing is, if you look at a conference program, for example, and you see all of the speakers lined up and they’re calling themselves motivational speakers or keynote speakers, how do you differentiate between them which one you’re going to listen to? So, if you look at our Speaker Bureau roster, and you have a lot of speakers on the screen and you’re looking, they’ve all got some kind of headline either about what they deliver or about what their expertise is or their past is. So, if you’re leading with motivational speaker or keynote speaker, you’re missing a trick. And also, it’s just too generic. And actually Austin, the other thing that bugs me is that most people don’t even know what a keynote is and yet they call themselves a keynote speaker.
Taylorr: That’s right.
Austin: Yeah. [Cross-talk 16:31].
Taylorr: For our listeners, Maria, what is a keynote? Let’s define that really quickly.
Maria: Okay, for our listeners out there…
Taylorr: I think there might be. Yeah, for our listeners. So, I feel like some people might be listening to this and their entire world is getting turned upside down because they’re like looking at their LinkedIn profile or looking at their emails, or advertising themselves as keynote speakers and so on. So, we’ll talk more about the thought leadership and how that plays in but I’m curious, let’s define keynote for a moment. And from your perspective Maria, what’s the definition of a keynote.
Maria: Okay. So, from my perspective, usually a keynote, usually a keynote is either an opening speaker or a closing speaker and the role of the opening keynote is normally at a conference to get bums on seats, is to get people to turn up on time, people to show up and to set the scene for the conference. So, that could be either somebody who is a celebrity, because people will come and have a look a celebrity in that field or somebody who’s a leading industry expert. So, it’s really setting the scene and really setting the theme of the event to come, so related to the theme. And then the closing keynote usually if it’s somebody who’s a big name or celebrity, they probably won’t sum up what’s happened during the day or two days of the conference. Their role may be to send people off feeling a certain way or having some kind of strong message to go away with, if it’s not a celebrity or somebody that’s big name, often that closing role is to sum up the event and to just sort of leave people with what’s next and what they want to take away. So that’s my definition.
You can have a keynote, not necessarily at the beginning or the end, but it will usually be based on the theme of that conference and there’ll be a specific role to it. And not everybody’s a keynote speaker. Not everybody can keynote it. You have to have really strong stage presence, really strong messaging, really strong content to be a keynote. And they usually get paid the most, which is why everybody calls themselves a keynote.
Taylorr: Interesting. Do you think that dilutes the market and makes it harder for companies and conferences and events to select speakers?
Maria: What? Because people call themselves keynotes…?
Taylorr: By everyone… Yeah, because everyone’s calling themselves a keynote speaker and it’s hard for them to differentiate who’s that.
Maria: I don’t know if it dilutes the market, I think it makes it more difficult. It does make it more difficult to choose if there’s no… but also how do you remember people if everyone calls themselves a keynote speaker and they’re all cookie cutter versions of each other? You have to be unique; you have to differentiate. And if you go to a conference, I know we probably have… none of us have been to a live conference for a while, but when you do go to a live conference or even a zoom conference, there’ll be certain speakers that you remember and others that you won’t, and there’ll be memorable for reasons that are why they get booked again and again. They’ll be memorable because they’ve given you some kind of strong message that you can either act on or you feel differently, or you’re thinking differently. They have some effect, they move an audience from A to B that’s the job of a speaker, move from A to B, I think.
Austin: So, I’m curious, as somebody running a Bureau obviously, you’re looking for new speakers all the time that can deliver that awesome stage presence and blow the client’s mind and make them super happy and deliver the results that they’re looking for, whatever they may be. So, when you’re selecting a speaker, what are some of the things that you look for that are telltale signs, that somebody is going to do a great job, and that you’re going to be very happy that you put them in the list of recommendations when a client comes to you asking for a speaker.
Maria: I mean, obviously the easiest one is that if you’ve worked with them before and you know them well, and you’ve seen them, that’s easy, it’s a no brainer. If it’s somebody new who’s coming to you and I really need video. If I haven’t got video it’s very difficult for me to convince the clients unless that person has a really big name, unless they’re a retiring president, although this particular one, not sure, so if somebody comes out from being a president or a prime minister or head of state, you don’t necessarily need a video because obviously they’re known, when somebody is known, they don’t need it. If somebody is coming in and they’re competing with other speakers, they need good video. And it’s how many speakers don’t have good video. And obviously now in this age where we’re virtual they also need to look great virtually all the time, wherever they show up, they have to look great. I mean, obviously people can’t see us on the podcast, but we’re all looking fantastic.
Austin: Yeah, that makes sense. So, when you’ve been looking at videos historically, and let’s separate just for a moment here, the COVID world that we exist in where everything is virtual, but let’s say it was end of 2019 and the speaker was coming to you saying, hey, I’d love to be on the roster and they sent you a video. I think something that a lot of speakers we talked to sort of obsessed over is production quality. They’re almost afraid to show a video that wasn’t done by a seven-angle camera set up with super good mics and everything. And I know that that can be an indicator that somebody really knows what they’re doing, and they probably have resources behind them too but have you ever watched a video without that production quality with somebody with a great message and you’re like, ah, yes, that person, or does that production quality of a really good demo reel or something does that matter to you?
Maria: The production quality does matter. It doesn’t have to be seven-angle, it can be just one piece to camera. but it has to be good, you have to have good sound and you have to have good visuals because that’s what the client needs to see. They need to see you looking good and sounding good. And we’re spoilt, we’re spoilt these days with, you know Netflix, Amazon prime, whatever you’re watching. I know there’s lots of other brands available too, because I shouldn’t be advertising, I suspect, but we’re spoilt with high quality and high definition. So, it doesn’t need seven cameras at all, but it does need high quality and high quality for me says, okay, somebody successful. You have one chance to make a first impression and if you turn up with your iPhone quality, blurry, poor sound, lots of background noise video that says to me, not very professional and as I say one chance to make a good first impression. I’ll remember. I always remember the bad ones always.
Taylorr: Yeah. Says a lot about your intent too when you go in with a little bit of higher production quality, you’re not using an iPhone, it has this symbolism to it that you care about what you’re doing. And I think that that matters to the clients and obviously bureaus. I am curious though; we get asked this a ton about what’s the right way speakers can approach bureaus. Because I think, especially for people who are just starting out or maybe who are a few years into the game, and maybe they’ve been trying to sell themselves and they’ve been booking some gigs, I think everybody wants the support of a bureau in their back pocket to know like they’re being talked about and they might get some gigs to come through. What’s the best way for a speaker to approach a bureau? Is it through direct outreach, Maria, I’m a speaker, I’m an expert on this? I would love to have a conversation. Is it coming to a showcase? What’s the best way for you to be approached by a speaker who is interested and becoming a part of a bureau or should that happen organically and the bureau go to the speaker instead?
Maria: The best way is the bureau going to the speaker that doesn’t always happen necessarily but the big, big mistake most speakers make is they don’t do their homework. So, they will be listening now and they oh, Maria runs a speaker Bureau and they’ll contact me don’t do that. Do your homework. So, not every bureau is suitable for every single speaker. So, I had a lovely chat today with a lady who’s got a really interesting niche, really interesting area of expertise and I asked her who her end clients were and I said, it’s not the right fit for me. So, do your research. Research the bureau, research who are their clients, what are the real main topic areas that [inaudible 24:43]. I’ve given away what kind of Bureau we are at the very beginning, let’s see if anyone was paying attention. So, if you’re not the right fit, then you should not approach that bureau because you’re just wasting their time and they’re going to say no.
And then when you do the research, where do you fit? Where’s the gap? Who are your competitors who are already on that roster that you can say, listen, you have this person or that person, I fit that there, this is how I’m different to them. Know your competition and most speakers don’t do that at all. Now again, if you are a former CEO of a big Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 company, I don’t need all that because you’re going to have something that clients are going want. If you’re the former head of, I don’t know, a huge bank or a huge or another organization, I don’t need that because you have your credibility. If you’ve just been to the space station, you don’t need that but if you haven’t, you have to do your homework and that’s the thing they don’t do.
They also don’t check who should they be contacting and they’ll just contact the person that they happened to have heard of and that might not be the right person. And therefore, it might get lost in the email. I could go on. There’s so much I could tell you. And then the other thing, if you’re not famous, a celebrity, not got gold medals, not done all those things, you need to already be getting booked and be successful. We don’t take beginners. We don’t work with beginners, so you already need to be doing some work and as we said before, you’ll normally have a role. You might be a psychologist or a neuroscientist who’s getting booked and may only need a dozen bookings a year for it to make sense, but you’re already getting some bookings and you want to perhaps add to them.
Taylorr: Lends itself to the conversation we had earlier about being an expert first. Got to prove the credibility if you didn’t make it to the space station and back, which is a 99% of the market, I would expect.
Maria: Absolutely. And the credibility is so important. And another mistake speakers make is they will start their profile with I’ve been speaking internationally for four years or five years or whatever. I’ve done 6,000 events and 2000 people in one audience and I’ve spoken across all these, I don’t care. I need your credibility. Why should I listen to you? Why are you the expert to talk about what you’re talking about?
Taylorr: I love that. And for those of you who’ve listened to our other episodes, this is a recurring theme. It comes when you’re working with bureaus, it works when you’re selling, it works. When you’re prospecting, you have to do your research, you have to be credible and you have to solve a problem for somebody and the only way you can identify those things is by doing your research and then making it as easy as possible for the person you’re having a conversation with to be interested in having that conversation with you. And I don’t think enough people do that
Maria: Beautifully summarized. I waffled away and you summarized it in one sentence, Taylorr, that is just a gift.
Taylorr: Thank you.
Austin: We’ll package it up and send it to you later. So, I have another question that relates to what you were just talking about and I love the idea of doing competitive research and I’ve got my reasons for that. Tell me your angle, there’s multiple experts to talk about one single area, why wouldn’t you just choose one? Being the bureau, what’s the logic behind having multiple experts that speak or consult or whatever on similar topics.
Maria: Do you know that’s a really great question? I’ve never been asked that that’s really good. So, what’s important is it’s always about the client and it’s always about the client and the audience. If you’ve got one and that person isn’t a great match because you have to match them really well, we’re much makers. We have a great understanding of the speaker and of the audience and the client. So, we sort of know this is going to be a great fit.
So, if I’ve got one futurist and that futurist is very controversial and provocative, and his style is to go in and really sort of prod you to react but my client is looking for somebody actually, I want to have a view of the future that’s really positive because I had a really bad time and give us some positives about our industry and I don’t want to be provoked, then I can’t put that person in. I can ask them to change, but that’s their USP, that’s what they are about so you have to have different people. Plus, if they are any good, because they are good, they’re going to be busy with that area of work, they’re going to be busy with speaking. They might not necessarily always be available.
Plus, you’ve got the whole cultural thing. I’ve got some speakers whose English accent is so strong that some audiences won’t understand them. Because maybe they’re not native English or maybe they’re Scottish, I’m sorry, Scotland’s you have a few accents there that are a bit strong and I love you all. So, I have to be careful with that as well and it’s very much matching what the client wants to achieve. And there’ll be speakers who are very good at taking you on an inspirational journey, others who are very good at making you do things and giving you tools and others who maybe are making you think differently. So again, what does the client want? I need to match it. Plus, there’s different budgets, different pricing levels and different levels of knowledge. So, depending on the seniority of the audience. So, there’s all these things at play so you need to have a choice.
Taylorr: Yeah. So, the expertise is really just the tip of the iceberg it sounds like.
Taylorr: It’s just one component amongst many.
Maria: Yeah. And then you’re going to say to me, I want a woman, or you’re going to say to me, actually, I’d like an Asian woman or, do you know what I mean? Then it gets even more complicated. Actually, I’d like somebody to do it in Cantonese and then it’s like, okay, right. And these things happen, these requests can become very precise.
Taylorr: I love this. And I’m just going to bring this up just because what you said made me think of this. But I was listening to a podcast the other day that was talking about the creator of the Dilbert Comics. And if anybody knows Dilbert, when he first started, he obviously was not a big name, wasn’t super successful and he had a really hard time making himself distinct in the market of lots of comic book writers or comic strip writers. And so, he realized no, he’s not the best comic book or comic strip writer, or I don’t artists let’s say, but maybe he was in the top 25% of artists, which is good. And maybe he wasn’t the funniest person in the whole world, but he was in the top 25% there too and he also wasn’t best business person in the world, but he was in the top 25% in business. And so, it’s not just one specific area that makes you distinct. It’s a combination of different things that only you can have because only you have had those experiences and by layering these different things on top of each other, it makes it easier for you to stand out in the marketplace and that’s what the creator of Dilbert credits his success to basically.
So, if that’s helpful for you speakers that are listening out there right now saying, oh, well there’s 10,000 people speaking on leadership. Well, yeah, you’re an expert in leadership, but find other things that you’re good at that you can explain to people and to bureaus or to your buyers on the other end and use those to your advantage to make you stand out in a market place that is awash by a lot experts in that same space. So, Maria I don’t know if that resonates with you or not, but that made me think of it.
Maria: I like that. That’s very good. Thank you.
Austin: We’ve been talking about the perspective of speakers who aren’t working with bureaus yet. Let’s talk about the perspective of speakers who are represented by some bureaus. What can they be doing to strengthen their relationship with the bureaus they’re working with? Because you’re managing 4,500 speakers. I would imagine, there are a percentage of them that may have go out of their way to keep you updated, there might be a larger percentage who don’t, but I think that over time, over time as a Bureau, you need to be able to be equipped to sell them and keep the relationship with them. So, what can speakers do that you’re generally seeing that they’re not doing that can help reinforce their relationship with the bureaus that represent them?
Maria: I think it’s really important to make it as easy as possible for us to book someone and to to work with them and so, in that respect, we need fast responses. So, a client, when they inquire, they want to know immediately. You’ll always get, I’ve had it today, I’ve had it this evening. This is what I want to do, these are the events, these are the dates, this is the person. I need to know this week can they do it and what’s it going to cost me to have them do it? And I need to know this week.
So, the client’s not going to wait. And what happens is if a speaker isn’t responsive, you then go to the next choice or the next choice because the client needs to know now. So, there’s that. There’s that having some kind of to be set up in a way that you’ve got if you’re out speaking or if you’re speaking on zoom and somebody else is going to handle it for you, that they can respond so that we have quickest responses. And also, to have all of the materials that a bureau will need. Many speakers don’t actually give you descriptions of how they talk about their topics. So, we have to remember that we might’ve seen on the videos, you might see them speak, or we’d have to write that out, but I would always encourage a speaker to say, well, this is how I handle this particular topic.
So, if a client’s looking at a website speaker, bureau website, and as you said, if there are lots of speakers talking on leadership, they’ll have to different take. So, this is how you handle leadership, this is your take on leadership, this is how you view leadership. And I said, actually, that’s the one that resonates with me, that’s the one that’s important for me. So, things like that, giving the materials that you need. And silly things like photographs, high-res photographs, it’s a real nuisance that if you’ve booked someone and they haven’t got decent photographs, which is what clients need, or they might not have an introduction to bring them on to stage or to bring them into the event. So, it’s sort of like making sure you have all the assets so it’s super, super easy, and then just deliver every single time. Attend the briefing, whether it’s in person or if it’s on zoom or on phone call, attend the briefing, really take that brief, really understand it and really adapt your session so it’s appropriate to that audience. So, all of those things really the list is huge. Again, I’m sorry.
Taylorr: No, that’s okay.
Maria: I seem to give you lists of answers, I don’t give you one thing.
Austin: Hey, that’s good. That means it’s layered. And I think this boils down to one thing, really, it’s just being easy to work with being organized enough and understanding expertise well enough that anybody can take, because the challenge that a speaker has working with a bureau, or hiring a salesperson or even them in their own conversations is they have to be able to communicate. Or let’s say when they’re being prospecting or when they have a client and there’s a committee that needs to make a decision and there’s one person they’re going back and forth with. Well, you have to be able to speak so clearly and deliver everything you do in a clear, concise way so somebody else can explain your value to another person. And if you don’t know your value well enough, how are you going to teach somebody else to communicate your value well enough to even get booked in the first place? You know what I mean? That’s why we call it, get organized, get known and get paid. The getting organized piece, the most important piece is what allows you to get known because then you’re getting organized enough to be easy to work with, I think.
Maria: Yes, absolutely. You’ve nailed it. You are so right. Exactly. Spot on.
Taylorr: Well, there you have it, folks.
Austin: That’s a wrap, folks.
Taylorr: That’s a wrap. Well, on that note, Maria, this has been an awesome episode and the title speak speaks for itself. We’re just looking for an inside scoop from a bureau’s perspective and for Austin and I definitely, none of this is news, but for hopefully those of you listening, you’re thinking differently about how you’re having conversations with your prospects, how you’re approaching bureaus, and hopefully you’re taking the right steps to be appealing to bureaus rather than having to kind of chase them down and then reach out without being very clear. Maria, I know you do a lot in the speaking space and as you know we’re all about creating value for our listeners. What are you working on right now that our listeners can benefit from?
Maria: Well, you mentioned the Speaking Business Podcast, thank you so much, which is sponsored by London Speaker Bureau, which is great. So, that goes out every Tuesday and we take a speaker from our roster and we basically quizzed them and try and squeeze their expertise a bit like you’ve done to me today actually, and squeeze their expertise. So, that’s quite useful if you want to find out what your competition is talking about, you can go through and see, all right, who are the ones that might be my competitors or listening to find out how they tackle it so that I can say, this is how I tackle it. So, that’s great research. And I’ve also started doing a LinkedIn live on a Thursday at five GMT with a partner with James Taylor, who’s a creativity speaker.
I almost forgot there, super creative, super creativity speaker. And so, we do that and we do a half hour live show on LinkedIn, which is great fun and it’s always aimed around the industry and it’s obviously skewed towards the speaking side. So, there’s usually something useful there. Do connect with me on LinkedIn so you find out about it. And as you say, working with speakers, both from the bureau side and also with the Speaking Business Academy these days as well.
Taylorr: Definitely. Well for everyone listening, I will have all of those links in the show notes. Maria, thank you for delivering so much value to everybody listening today. For our listeners, don’t forget to subscribe to the show and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcasts simple; it makes recording podcasts simple; it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.