One day your company, organization or government department has an uncommon challenge: to find a professional speaker. That might actually be the reason you came to us in the first place. We are in business since August 2008 with the China Speakers Bureau and since then we have been learning much and fast. A part of that educational process we want to share with you, because we think the more you know about selecting a speaker, the better we can help you.
Why not writing tips for speakers first, you might wonder? Some speakers might actually need some guidance, but for them there is already material enough. Just google a bit and you will find an endless row of books on how to become a better speaker. (See also the amazon link below.)But the equivalent does not exist for those people who are looking for a good speaker. In this matchmaking process there are at least two parties and our focus is on clients.
The focus of our tips has a strong China focus, since that is our business: getting assignments for professional speakers on China. That will create a few extra issues compared to other speakers’ bureaus, like intercultural exchanges and – one of our businesses – visiting delegations who have to organize trips remotely.
When it is your business finding professional speakers, you might not need that help. Event organizers are often already well versed in the process and for us they are a joy to work with. After the first contacts we get a briefing paper of no longer than one A4 telling us exactly what we need to know to select a great speaker.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some of our tips I will write about will sometimes seem all to obvious, for example our tip to know exactly who your audience is. We still feel it is important to include those basics, but will also get to some more elaborate questions.
Regularly we talk to people who have not really a clue, and sometimes for good reasons. Often third parties are asked to help the organizations or companies that need a speaker. Embassies and consulates are being asked to do this next to their normal business. Travel agencies who suddenly find themselves do more than organizing hotel rooms and trips. PR-agencies, who get clients on visits, and are often not equipped for this more specialized industry.
Sometimes there is panic. Initially, we thought that large scale events, business visits, conferences would be planned long ahead and we would have a lead time of at least two to three months. Sometimes we indeed meet well-organized clients who want to talk to us two years in advance. Now, when you really want a celebrity, that might be a good idea, since they are often fully booked years in advance. But sometimes we only have a few days, because suddenly holes are discovered in programs, other speakers drop out of the program. Then it is very important the organizers get familiar with the process of selecting a speaker very fast.
We will publish a new chapter in each upcoming newsletter and hope for some feedback, online or offline, so we can fine-tune the information a bit. Later we will change this in a more comprehensive document for easy download.