At a recent industry event predominantly aimed at companies providing products and services for client conferences, events and functions an interesting panel discussion was held around the role of Speaker Agents – still relevant? .
The panel was made up inter alia, of well- known and up and coming speakers who make their living from speaking engagements at conferences and events, a well- known Speaker Agent, and an entertainment agent.
Panel discussions can become quite unruly and unfocused, but well constrained by the panel chairman, 3 main themes emerged as challenges to the ‘Agent’ entity. These were:
- Transparency around speaker fees and speaker agent commissions.
- Speakers taking advantage of social media platforms and the internet to offer their services direct to the conference and event buyer.
- Low levels of collaboration between organisations providing products and services to similar buyer markets.
In my view, the most important question around speaker agents are:
- Are speaker agents still relevant in the current market?
- If so, what is the role of the speaker agent from:
- The client perspective
- The Speaker Agent perspective
- The Speakers perspective.
The answer to question 1 will depend on the answers to the parts that make up question 2.
In essence the speaker agent is a middle man and their relevance and therefore very existence is directly linked to what value they add to the process. That value is to both the client and the speaker, but it is the perceived value add to the client that is the most important.
If the client does not receive a tangible professional service that provides a solution to the their needs, in sourcing and booking a speaker, there is simply no need to use a speaker agent, the client might as well approach the speaker directly.
Speaker Agents – still relevant?
So, how relevant speaker agents are, will depend on what level of service they provide. If they are simply acting as a booking agent, then their usefulness is indeed limited.
If you are thinking of using a speaker agent to source speakers or MC’s for your next event, get answers to the following questions before you use them.
- Does the agent take the time to get a detailed brief from you regarding your speaker requirements
- Do they attempt to understand your business and the profile of the delegates that will be in attendance at the event
- Are they able to quickly recommend a short list of speakers who have experience in providing the kind of talk you want.Can they provide a biography of the speakers they recommend that verifies that the speaker can address your topic requirements.
- Do they offer to facilitate a meeting between you and the short list of speakers they recommend. This is vital, as it gives you the opportunity to ensure the speakers have a clear understanding of your objectives, delegate profile.
- Can they facilitate that you get an opportunity to watch the speaker in action. Not always possible, but extremely helpful if it can be arranged.
- Failing which, check if the speaker has a video profile on You Tube. take the time to watch them in action.
- Can the agent provide references for other clients who have used the speaker. Don’t hesitate to check what they have to say about the speaker.
There are also a number of speaker showcases throughout the year that provide a great platform for you to experience the speaker live. Follow CSI on Twitter
For more information about speakers, entertainers and helpful advice for your speaker requirements, feel free to contact us for expert neutral advice.