A speaker showcase is usually a half day or full day event where a small group of speakers showcase a few minutes of their best material to a room of meeting planners or other event organizers. The purpose of a speaker showcase is to give the meeting planners a wide variety of speaker styles and topics under one roof to choose from as they plan their events for the upcoming year.

Speaker showcases are put on by convention and visitors bureaus, speaker bureaus, association organizations, etc. The speakers pay their own travel and expenses, and sometime even pay a fee to participate. So, are they worth the time and money? We asked a few speakers what they thought.


“I have been in the speaking business for about two years now and I have done a few speaker showcases – with both great and not so great results. The most important showcase I ever did was at the Professional Speakers Association UK Mega Conference where I got to speak for 5 minutes in front of some very influential colleagues, this has resulted in recommendations and the like for paid work and has enabled well known speakers to know what I do. I believe showcases are a great thing, as long a you go into them with an open mind and no set expectations.

Sometimes you get work booked off the back of them and other times it’s a chance to practice new material.

Elizabeth Wright – Paralympic Medalist, Professional Speaker, Author



“I’ve only participated in one speaker showcase. I did it because it was local; the promoter was filming it with a two camera shoot and including a mic on the audience; and it was free. At least it was free to me because the promoter wanted at least one established speaker to go with all the other speakers he was charging to be there. The turnout was miniscule. I honestly don’t know if there was anyone there who wasn’t speaking or connected to someone who was speaking. The video was too hokey to use, especially with such a tiny audience. And this particular showcase at least was generally a waste of time.”

Barry Maher – Author, consultant, speaker



“I have been a speaker for many years and I am a CSP. Showcases in general are wonderful. Specifically, there needs to be a very good size audience filled with true decision makers rather than just speakers who have paid to showcase. Speakers also need time. I have lots of audience interaction in my presentations so I personally prefer 20 minutes of showcase time. Ideally, I like there to be some sort of qualification to showcase so that the standard of speakers in the showcase is very high.

I also prefer if there is a list of people who have attended the showcase available to me if I paid to showcase. It’s nice to be able to just ask for cards but that makes it actually harder on the attendees because then there sometimes pummeled by speakers asking for their cards.”

Patti Wood – Speaker, trainer, spokesperson



“I was recently a speaker in a showcase and I am on the fence of whether or not it was a waste of time.

We paid $250 for a 20 minute product showcase and had an audience of about 35. 15 or so were in the ‘bullpen’ and the rest were outside. That meant that at the end, most people could easily slip away without having their information captured. However, was able to walk two interested prospects down to our exhibit to meet my sales staff.

I was showcasing a new product launch that was delayed by three months. The product is just being released now and we have not yet determined if either of these prospects have bought. That is the ‘on the fence’ part.”

For future showcases, I would recommend speakers only do showcases:

1) Where there is dedicated time; no educational sessions going on

2) The showcase is on the exhibit hall floor to maximize buzz

3) The showcase bullpen be near the entrance

4) Show management make several announcements about the showcase

5) Preferably if your vendors pare paying for it


Louis Altman – Globafone

Globafone – Satellite Phone Solutions That Connect You Worldwide


“I’ve done two. The first was sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of the National Speakers Association, maybe a decade ago. I was a member, and any member could participate for free. There was a small cash award for first place, maybe $250, and the winner got to represent the chapter with a very short presentation at NSA’s national convention. I won that event.

Seven or eight years ago, I was invited by a bureau to participate in their showcase. The bureau had already placed me in two speaking engagements. The showcase was well-recommended by several speakers I knew, ones who had participated in years past. Seems like the fee was around $400. The drive would be 500 miles round-trip, plus my hotel and meals. The bureau had hosted this event for years and promised around 100 meeting planners. Most attendees would be from state associations, my target market.

As a general rule, I don’t pay for promotion. The only one guaranteed to profit from those is the promoter. For the promotee (that would be me), it’s a crap shoot. I agreed to participate in this one primarily because the bureau had already booked me twice, and others spoke well of the event.

Not only did I craft a great 20 minute presentation, I prepared a personalized momento for each attendee, one related to my remarks and worth keeping. That cost several hundred dollars more.

Not a single engagement resulted from that showcase, even though I followed up with all the attendees. A year or two later, the speaking business tanked. It was a tough few years for associations and bureaus, too.

Was it a worthwhile experience? Yes. Was the bureau credible? Yes. Was the audience as promised? Yes. Would I do it again? No. Not with them and probably not with any bureau.

I will occasionally make a counter-offer to someone who wants me to pay for their promotion. I tell them, “Let me participate for free. You book me after that, and I’ll pay you DOUBLE your fee.” That always ends the conversation.”


Patrick Lee – Leadership Presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark Expedition Co-Leader Capt. William Clark


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