This blog post on getting booked by a speaker bureau South Africa was written by Professional Speaker, Graeme Codrington who is one of the most successful professional speakers in South Africa.
It’s been broken up into 3 posts as it is quite hefty, weighing in at 3000+ words.
One of the questions I am often asked is: “How do I get speaker agents to book me more?” I am asked this because I have a good relationship with many speaker agents and bureaus, and have had these relationships for many years. For the record, I have been a professional speaker for over a decade. My company, TomorrowToday has developed many people into professional speakers and I have mentored many speakers during that time. I am a Fellow of the Professional Speakers Association of the UK, and a member of the Global Speakers Federation. And I get about 20% of all my bookings through agents and bureaus.
The question of how speakers can get booked by a speaker bureau South Africa more is a good one – for speaker newbies and old hands alike – and I hope my comments below provide a helpful and comprehensive answer. But I’d also appreciate your insights, wisdom, corrections and critique – please feel free to add to this by leaving your comments below.
NOTE: For the sake of this article I am not going to differentiate between an agent and a bureau. I mainly have bureaus in mind, but the titles are used in such different ways in different parts of the world that it’s impossible to be more specific. And I will use the terms interchangeably. In this article I am focusing attention on agents/bureaus who have relationships with clients looking to book speakers, and who provide a variety of options for those clients and then handle the booking of a selected speaker.
Even if you’re a seasoned speaker, it can be quite tough to connect with a speaker bureau South Africa. Look at it from their perspective. They get literally hundreds (even thousands) of speaker packs every year. They don’t have a lot of time to sift through the rubbish to find the gold (I am assuming you think of yourself as a nugget of shiny stuff, rather than a pile of… well, you know what I mean). So, how do you stand out from the pack?
Send an email – the days of glossy speaker brochures is over. Your email should be short and to the point, and should minimise the marketing speak. You have about 3 minutes to convince the agent to consider you. Your email should contain the following (probably in the order listed below):
- A single line description of what you talk about (only ONE thing) and your best target audience (only ONE). Here’s mine: “I speak to corporate audiences on the disruptive forces that are changing the shape of their industries.”
- Tell them how long you’ve been doing it and how often you speak. “I speak at over 100 conferences in 20 countries a year, and have been a professional speaker for over 10 years.” (That’s my statement – you don’t have to have this level of experience to be noticed by an agent – but you do have to clearly let them know that you know what your best audience is, and prove that you have a track record in that space).
- Supply a link to a video that includes your very best material (3 minutes max). The best video will show you presenting in front of your best audience, will include some audience reaction shots, will show your style as well as content, and will include your contact details. It must therefore be an edited video, showing highlights. Within the first 30 seconds it should have you saying a memorable and insightful point. Within the first minute it should show audience reaction – laughter is always the best, but shots of people nodding, taking notes and being attentive are just as good. You can spend a bit of money and get a professional voice over artist to talk about you, but that is not essential.
- Include a link to two high-resolution photos: one headshot and one shot of you in action.
- Indicate your fee range – to the end client. Indicate that you understand that the agent will take a commission out of that fee.
- Provide a SHORT biography (under 500 words). This biography should include the types of credentials that your best audience would be impressed by, and would make it easy for the agent to sell you to them as an expert/authority/good choice. You can provide a link to a more detailed CV online.
- Bullet point list of notable clients/groups you’ve spoken to.
- Link to your website. If you have an agent friendly website, even better. This is a website which mirrors your own, but contains no contact details and no links back to yourself. It is designed so that agents can send people to look at it, and then get them back to their website in order to secure the booking.
- ONE (only one) client testimonial (more on that below). You can provide a link to more testimonials if you want to.
OK, so what if you don’t have some of these things? Well if you don’t have ALL of these things available (except possibly the agent friendly website), then you’re not ready to connect with an agent yet. By all means go ahead and try, but remember that agents will probably only give you one chance. So, if you look like an amateur and you feel like you haven’t done all your prework, they’ll just bin your email and remember your name in order to bin future attempts to make contact.
By the way, here are a few DONT’S for your initial contact with a speaker bureau South Africa:
- Don’t be long winded.
- Don’t use superlatives. Anyone claiming to be “World’s greatest speaker on …” almost never is. Are you really “an international expert”? Agents have seen thousands of speakers and know how to separate truth from fantasy. Avoid setting off their BS alarms.
- So, don’t use “marketing speak”. Agents will not be impressed with non-specific, generic claims. Be specific. Be factual. Be truthful.
- Don’t be overly friendly and informal. The agent is looking for a professional relationship with you that will build over time.
- Don’t send more than one follow-up email. If you dont get a response within two weeks, send a follow up to simply enquire whether they received the first email. If you get no further replies, you might try phoning once just to check your email was received. But if you get no further response: take the hint.
Click here for the second installment.