The speaking industry has similarities and differences in every country. Here is another great speakers bureau interview with J.J. Jackson of Performing Artistes, located in London:

1. Can you give us some info on your background and how Performing Artistes got started?
We started in 1992, initially putting on sporting dinners (where people buy tables and there are former sportsmen and women giving speeches after dinner). We quickly got asked to supply people for their own events, often non sport, and it went from there. That original experience of having put on events ourselves is incredibly useful when dealing with planners. We can honestly say we’ve been there!
2. How is the speaking industry different in Europe than the U.S.?
Bureaux in the States seems to be much more talent led. They are set up to push talent exclusive to them, while the European model is client/organiser led – most of us have a few exclusives, but the majority of our business is booking people independent of the bureau. We are answerable to the clients.
3. When should a speaker start approaching speakers bureaus and how would you like to be approached?
In theory, as soon as they like, however unless they have a TV profile they really need to have done a good few speeches (20 plus) to be taken seriously. Decent video footage of them speaking is also a must – it doesn’t need to be a full production, but more than a hand held camera at the back of a church hall.
4. What is the one thing you wish speakers knew about working with a speakers bureau?
That our job is to come up with ideas for speakers in the first place. Rarely do clients ring up asking for a specific person, they normally ask for a list of people who would be appropriate and take it from there, so by the time they end up booking the speaker we’ve already done a lot of work getting them to that stage. Same goes for agents, they often say “why did the company not come to us directly” to which the response is of course “because they didn’t know they wanted you until we explained why you/your client was ideal”.
5. Who is your perfect speaker client?
In terms of the talent, someone who engages with the client beforehand on a briefing call, turns up on time and is modest in their demands re staging, transport etc (accepting they want to deliver a good presentation and do require certain things). In terms of bookers/planners, someone you can develop a relationship with and starts to trust you…occasionally taking a leftfield choice because they know you haven’t let them down in the past. I always say I have never knowingly supplied a bad speaker, although that’s not to say we haven’t had to odd issue over the years!
6. Is there one book you would recommend all speakers read?
Now there is a question! It’s been around a while, but one of the original business books, How to Win Friends and Influence People takes some beating!
7. What do you see changing for speakers, meeting planners and speakers bureaus and how would you use innovation to improve the speaking industry?
The level of interactivity of audiences. The days of the passive audience are long gone, now a days the audience will be tweeting about the speech as it is happening, asking questions in real time etc. In terms of improving the industry, transparency is key. If a speaker has had a number of enquiries from rival bureaux for the same job, they should say; similarly meeting planners shouldn’t try and play us off against each other. By all means compare costs, but once you’ve decided which bureau to use, stick with them.

JJ Jackson
Performing Artistes – London
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2 Responses to “Interview With a Speakers Bureau – Performing Artistes”

  1. John Maher says:

    Great question Julie and Thanks for such an informative answer. I was registered with 3 speaker bureaus in Australia for just 6 months this year, and in that time I didn’t receive one enquiry or contact from the bureaus so I removed myself from all of them

    I must say that I am a good marketer of myself and my talks, but I decided to “try” the bureaus to see if it would free up more of my time to allow me to be in front of my audience.

    I am a well established speaker in Australia and New Zealand, (80 Secondary Shools and 41 Corporate engagements in 2014), but I was prepared to investigate this avenue, but I certainly didn’t experience that the bureau’s in Australia were proactive in seeking out opportunities for me.

    Keep up your great work because there are so many fantastic messages and experiences that need to be told because they can make a difference.

    John Maher

  2. Dr. Melissa Luke says:

    Thanks Julie!

    Your explanation regarding bureaus abroad was very interesting. The level of interactivity in audiences globally has changed significantly-I had to change with my audiences on stage as well. Especially knowing my talks would cover the globe before leaving the stage (smile). If your looking for speakers: I would love to chat more.

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