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How to Work with a Speaker’s Bureau: Interview with Collaborative Agency Group

by Mawi on July 6, 2012

People often ask me how the speaking industry, and speaking bureaus in particular, work. Here’s an interview with an incredibly talented and successful speaking agency called Collaborative  Agency Group.  I have the highest regard for their President, Andy Cohen.

Andy, can you give people a sense of your expertise in the speaking industry?

Hi Mawi- I’ve been in the lecture business for the better part of the last 15 years as a speaker / lecture agent, VP at a Boston area bureau and now agency owner, here at The Collaborative Agency Group. When I first started in the business being able to fax a contract was all the rage and we still sent out either VHS or audio tapes to demo our speakers. Throughout the years I have booked all sorts of personalities and speakers from astronauts and national hero’s like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn to Educational issues and diversity speakers the likes of Dr Loretta Long (Susan on Sesame Street) and of course you! My clients have ranged from large multi-national corporations, holding events both state side and internationally, to smaller state associations and everything in between. If a client’s needs a speaker we are here to ensure that they get exactly the right person for that engagement. My partners and I have developed an extensive network enabling us to contact and book virtually any speaker or celebrity on the circuit.

What would you say to an aspiring speaker who is just getting started?

Have a passion for something larger than being a motivational speaker. What I mean by that is do not aspire to be a professional speaker, rather be exceptional at what you do and let that be the catalyst for your speaking career. As an agent I am looking for a great story teller, someone that exudes passion whether they are talking with three people in a causal atmosphere or keynoting at a conference in front of 1000 people.

Be easy to work with. Agencies and bureaus are juggling a lot of things at once, from ongoing marketing campaigns, to customer care and logistical support for booked events. Working with a speaker who is well prepared and organized sets an agents mind at ease. We cherish our relationships with our customers (and speakers too) and want to make sure that everyone involved is on the same page. An easily accessible speaker (and staff) is essential.

What is the key thing you look for from a speaker you are considering for your agency?

In a nut shell we look for a combination of ability, enthusiasm and organization. We can recognize a great speaker and story teller but we need the proper materials to market to our clients. So outside of the prerequisite “ability” we need a well produced video, in front of a live audience, a short biography and of course speaking topics. Topics are often overlooked but from an agents perspective that gives us something to grab on to and talk with our clients about. It also demonstrates that the speaker has a good focus and is not trying to be everything to everyone.

Thanks Andy! You can visit Collaborative Speaking Agency by clicking on their logo.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Pascal January 6, 2015 at 5:10 am

Dear Lini,I’m so proud of you, speaking at the PHP coenernfce. I really don’t know anything about it but I’m sure that you will have a great performance! You have the knowledge, the experience and the right attitude and flair to do it.It is, as I earlier told you, very sad that your father can’t be with you. I’m very surethat he would do this if possible. But he is in your heart and genetics, so he is there for sure.Dear Lini, goodluck and I will think of you!Gemke

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