For meeting professionals, finding a keynote speaker is only a part of what you have to accomplish to get an event successfully off the ground. Ironically, a good keynote speaker can make or break a meeting or event for an organization, so it’s a very important part. A speaker that falls flat or doesn’t resonate with the audience can really leave a bad taste in the mouths of attendees for years to come.

Whether you are a new meeting professional or a seasoned pro, there are many myths floating around about how and why one should work with a speakers bureau.

Here are a few of the myths we’ve come across, over time:

It costs too much to use a bureau to find a speaker

False. The bureau is compensated by the speaker, usually as a percentage of their fee. The bureau is working on behalf of you, the meeting planner, to find the right fit of a speaker for a particular event. But ultimately the bureau’s time is paid by the speaker who is hired, so there is no downside for the meeting professional and only time and effort spared!

I could negotiate a better rate by working with the speaker directly

False. On the surface, it might seem like cutting out the middleman might net a better rate. After all, the speaker would get their full fee, instead of paying a cut to the bureau, and you might get them to negotiate down on their fee. But if you think about the volume of business that a bureau is doing with the speakers, they can negotiate a better rate because they may be booking that speaker twenty or thirty times a year. To the speaker, that’s worth more than the one-off fee /percentage gain of a direct booking.

Finally, the speaker is more devoted to a client when the bureau they work with is involved because their future relationship with the bureau is at stake: getting future bookings depends on that relationship and everything going well.

Speaker bureaus only deal with keynote speakers over $20,000

False. There are pervasive rumors that a speaker needs to be at a certain fee range before a bureau will represent them or the planner must have a certain budget before the bureau will work with them. There might be a few bureaus that engage in that kind of selection process, but most don’t discriminate. In fact, working with speakers and budgets at all levels and price points is part of the thrill of the ride, for a bureau agent!

I could do just as well finding a keynote speaker using Google

False. Speaker bureaus are a MAJOR data mine. They keep track of where the speakers are at, work wise and geographically. They also keep track of more esoteric data that you would never find on Google. Like what? Like where their speakers’ grandkids live so if there is an event in the that town, the bureau knows they can find the right speaker and save the planner money. This is the kind of incentive information that works well for meeting planners who have tighter budgets. It’s information you would have a hard time finding, and therefore would not be able to leverage in negotiation.

A bureau will push their favorite speakers

While it’s true that a bureau does have a roster of speakers that they might prefer for certain engagements, the truth is that the final and most important test is whether the speaker is a good fit for the event and the audience you are planning for. NO bureau wants an event to fail because the speaker was a bad fit. There’s no upside to that kind of situation for the planner or the bureau. And when it comes to the data that was mentioned above, there is another factor: a speaker can’t have everything they’ve ever done in their website bio. So the bureau might have knowledge of the speaker that can help make connections that otherwise might not be made. If that’s favoring a certain speaker, so be it.


The bottom line is, we know you have a lot on your plate when planning an event, and while finding the perfect keynote speaker is just one of your many tasks, we can take that off your plate and help to ensure you get the perfect speakers for your audience and your events.

 Contact Midwest Speakers Bureau today and let’s start planning.



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