What is a speaker bureau?
If you want an answer to the question: what is a speaker bureau, you need to think about from two different viewpoints — that of the speaker and that of the customer.
Simply put, a speaker bureau is an organization that helps facilitate the meeting between public speakers and a paying audience. It is the link between the mouth of the speakers and the ears of the audience.
To public speakers bureaus are (often) a critical ally that can help with getting paid speaking gigs that the speakers would otherwise not have had. On top of that, they help take care of the more business-y details of logistics, travel, and collecting money. An example of a speaker bureau could be A-Speakers in the US or Athenas in Sweden.
Read more about public speaking in Sweden
To customers (the one wanting to hire a speaker) a bureau is often a stamp of approval for the speaker. Anyone can claim to be a speaker and build a website. Bureau representation is a guarantee that someone else heard and found value in the speaker. This is akin to an insurance policy for meeting planners, who will hire someone to speak in front of their entire company. They want quality and a bureau is a guarantee.
WHAT A SPEAKER BUREAU IS NOT
Think about the bureau-business for a while. It would make economic sense for bureaus to distribute jobs more equally if they could. It is an unfortunate attribute of existence that we can ever only be in one place at any one given time. Ideas shared via books do not have this limitation, but speakers do. When one speaker gets a lot of requests, that speaker is likely to be unavailable for clients. To a bureau, this equals lost income, and for business reasons, it would make much more sense for agencies if they could distribute jobs more evenly among all speakers. Some are bound to be available on the days requested by the client.
Doing this would also leave agencies significantly less dependent on a few key relationships with high-income speakers and provide a more stable business.
Read How to make money as a public speaker
The point is; the bureaus would change this pattern if they could. Unfortunately, they cannot. The problem is working with the powers that be and making them work for you. Having a bureau does not necessarily mean more sales.
We hope this has helped you answer the question: What is a speaker bureau?