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Speakers Bureaus: Making Event Planning a Breeze

by Holly Ransom: Global leadership speaker, interviewer, event host and CEO of Emergent Leadership Development

Crafting a memorable event—one that leaves an indelible mark on attendees—is both an art and a science. It’s about weaving together the right elements, from ambiance to content. And when it comes to ensuring the content resonates? That’s where the challenge often intensifies.

Finding that perfect keynote speaker, someone who can captivate, inspire, and drive home the message you wish to impart, can feel as elusive as finding a needle in a haystack. It’s not just about securing a speaker; it’s about securing the right speaker.

That’s where the magic of speakers bureaus comes into play – they’re the unsung heroes of event orchestration. Far from being mere directories, these bureaus are the masterminds behind curating transformative experiences.

As a professional keynote speaker, event host, and interviewer for the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of leading speakers bureaus, both in the United States and Australia. Their meticulous attention to detail, unwavering commitment to excellence, and knack for weaving impactful narratives have been instrumental in bringing events to life. Trust me, when it comes to elevating your event game, these bureaus are the secret weapon you didn’t know you needed.

Key Takeaways

  • Speakers bureaus are professional agencies that connect event organisers with expert speakers.

  • They provide guidance and access to a wide range of specialists, assisting in speaker selection, managing logistics, and creating successful events.

  • With the help of top speakers bureaus such as Executive Speakers Bureau, virtual or live events can be successfully managed through pre-event rehearsals, interactive content delivery and more.

What is a Speakers Bureau?

Microphone in front of an audience.

A speakers bureau, often referred to simply as a “bureau,” is a company or agency that represents professional speakers and connects them with organisations or event planners seeking keynote speakers, panelists, or workshop leaders for various events. These bureaus act as intermediaries, managing the logistics, negotiations, and contracts between speakers and clients.

Here’s a breakdown of what a speakers bureau typically does:

  • Representation: Bureaus represent a roster of professional keynote speakers, each with their expertise, topic areas, and speaking styles.

  • Matching Events with Speakers: Speaker bureaus suggest speakers who align with the event’s objectives, resonate with the audience, and fit within the client’s budget and requirements.

  • Handling Logistics: Speaker bureaus manage all logistical aspects, from contract negotiations and fee discussions to travel arrangements and technical requirements.

  • Assuring Quality: Reputable bureaus thoroughly vet their speakers. They ensure that the speakers have a history of delivering engaging talks, have received positive feedback from previous events, and maintain a professional demeanour.

  • Offering Flexibility: In response to the increasing popularity of virtual events, many bureaus now also provide speakers who are skilled at presenting in online formats, ensuring adaptability to changing event formats.

For effective collaboration with a speakers bureau, event organisers should outline their event’s goals and objectives, determine their budget, identify the type of speaker needed, and communicate these requirements to the bureau. The bureau then provides a list of prospective speakers, oversees logistics, and guarantees a seamless event.

Advantages of Partnering with a Speakers Bureau

Partnering with a speakers bureau comes with numerous perks. Firstly, event organisers get to tap into a vast network of top-notch speakers, ensuring a memorable event. Here are some other benefits:

  • All-Inclusive Service: Agencies like All American Entertainment (AAE) offer comprehensive services, accommodating both live and virtual events.

  • Efficiency & Time-saving: You can leverage the expertise of bureaus to expedite the speaker selection process, saving significant time and energy.

  • Logistical Expertise: Bureaus handle the complex details of securing speakers, managing contracts, and guaranteeing smooth event logistics.

  • Dependable Contingency Plans: Take advantage of a safety net; bureaus have backup professionals ready to step in if a scheduled speaker can’t attend, ensuring events proceed without a hitch.

Spotlight on Top Speakers Bureaus

Holly Ransom emceeing a Coca-Cola event facilitated by a speakers bureau.
Holly Ransom emceeing a Coca-Cola event facilitated by a speakers bureau.

This section highlights top speakers bureaus, from the United States and Australia, showcasing their distinctive offerings and speaker rosters. From Executive Speakers Bureau’s focus on business and motivational talks to Washington Speakers Bureau’s extensive network of political and sports speakers, these agencies cater to diverse event types and ensure a successful and engaging experience for all attendees.

Top U.S. Speakers Bureaus I’ve Had the Pleasure of Collaborating With

Executive Speakers Bureau, located in the vibrant heart of Tennessee, USA, is a distinguished agency that has made significant contributions to the event planning and speaking industry ever since 1993. With a comprehensive client list of high-caliber speakers, Executive Speakers Bureau is recognised for its exceptional service and unwavering support to event organisers. They take great pride in their knack for pairing each event with the ideal speaker, ensuring a unique and powerful experience for every attendee.

SpeakInc, stationed in the sunny locale of San Diego, USA, is a prominent speakers bureau and the largest of its kind in the western U.S.. This bureau is renowned for its vast and varied selection of motivational, business and celebrity speakers, making it a favoured choice for many event planners. As a non-exclusive speakers bureau, SpeakInc takes pride in its ability to form and nurture relationships with the most diverse and influential speakers in the keynote speaking world and they offer unfiltered feedback on all speakers they work with.

Gotham Artist, nestled in the vibrant heart of New York City, is a boutique speaker bureau revered for its rich history and commitment to excellence. This bureau, renowned for its eclectic array of top-tier speakers, plays a vital role in aiding organisations to secure the world’s most influential speakers and entertainers for a diverse array of events. From academic institutions to corporate boardrooms to large-scale festivals, Gotham Artist is instrumental in crafting and delivering impactful live and virtual event programming.

My experience with each of these bureaus has been nothing short of excellent, They’ve been instrumental in the success of many events I’ve been a part of, and their steady support and expertise have made the event planning process a breeze.

Other Top Speakers Bureaus in the U.S.

Holly Ransom delivering a keynote address.
Holly Ransom delivering a keynote address.

Premiere Speakers Bureau stands as a premier speaker agency, boasting some of the best speakers in the realms of business and motivation. With speakers covering topics such as: mental health, leadership, management, and education, Premiere Speakers Bureau can provide the perfect speaker for any event.

Washington Speakers Bureau is known for its high-profile political, sports, and other business speakers and leaders, ensuring a successful and engaging event experience. With a roster that includes renowned names such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Colin Powell, Washington Speakers Bureau provides event organisers with access to some of the most influential figures in American history.

Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau offers a diverse range of speakers for various event types, with a focus on inclusivity and representation. Their roster of exceptional speakers includes renowned speakers such as Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins, and Steve Wozniak, ensuring a memorable event experience.

Top Australian Speakers Bureaus I’ve Had the Pleasure of Collaborating With

Inspire Speakers is a Sydney-based speaker agency, that has been connecting event organisers with expert speakers since 2014. Known for its comprehensive roster of speakers across various fields, Inspire has a reputation for providing top-notch service and ensuring a seamless event planning process. I’ve been collaborating with Inspire for the past couple of years and their advocacy on my behalf has been an absolute gift. 10/10 recommend!

Growth Faculty, is an another remarkable Australian-based speakers bureau that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Known for its commitment to fostering growth and development in businesses and individuals, Growth Faculty brings together some of the world’s most influential thought and business leaders, authors, and speakers under one roof.

Some of the recent highlights of my experience with Growth Faculty was touring Australia and New Zealand with James Clear and Adam Grant. Touring with these two thought leaders was not only an enriching experience but also a testament to the kind of high-caliber international speakers that Growth Faculty brings together.

Holly Ransom interviewing James Clear at a recent Growth Faculty event.
Holly Ransom interviewing James Clear at a recent Growth Faculty event.

Navigating Virtual and Live Events with a Speakers Bureau

As the world adapts to digital events, bureaus have embraced the shift, offering expert guidance and support for online engagements. At the same time, live events continue to hold a special place in the event industry, providing unique opportunities to create experiences for people to connect and share their experiences.

This section will explain how bureaus aid event organisers in managing both virtual and live events, ensuring a seamless experience for all participants.

Adapting to the Digital Shift: Virtual Event Planning

Holly Ransom streaming a live, virtual keynote as a guest speaker for Atlassian.
Holly Ransom streaming a live, virtual keynote as a guest speaker for Atlassian.

In the wake of the digital shift, speakers bureaus have adapted their services to accommodate virtual event planning. By providing expert advice and assistance, bureaus ensure that online events run smoothly and deliver the same level of impact as live events.

To guarantee audience engagement in virtual events, bureaus can:

  • Conduct pre-event rehearsals

  • Facilitate networking and chatrooms

  • Select engaging speakers or presenters

  • Present interactive content

Moreover, bureaus can equip speakers with the necessary tools and training to thrive in a virtual environment.

A partnership with a speakers bureau for virtual event planning grants event organisers access to a wealth of knowledge and support.

The Magic of Live Events: Bringing People Together

Despite the rise of virtual events, live events continue to hold a special place in the hearts of attendees, offering unique opportunities for networking, relationship-building, and shared experiences. Speakers bureaus play a crucial role in bringing people together for memorable and impactful live events.

Collaborating with a speakers bureau provides event organisers with access to a vast network of experienced speakers’, performers, and entertainers who can captivate and inspire live audiences. Furthermore, bureaus act as intermediaries to facilitate negotiations between event planners and speakers, ensuring a smooth event experience for all involved.

Selecting the Perfect Keynote Speaker for Your Event

Holly Ransom delivering a keynote at a live event.
Holly Ransom delivering a keynote at a live event.

Choosing the right keynote speakers for your event is essential for its success. The right speaker has the transformative power to captivate the audience, share valuable insights, spark engagement and leave a lasting impact.

I’ve written more about How to Find the Best Conference Keynote Speaker for Your Event, a comprehensive guide that delves into the nuances of selecting the right speaker who can resonate with your audience, communicate your event’s theme effectively, and leave a lasting impression.

You might also like to explore my Top 10 Leadership Speakers in 2023. This list features a handpicked selection of top keynote speakers, who are renowned for their impactful leadership talks. Whether you’re planning a corporate event, a leadership development seminar, or a motivational workshop, these speakers could be an excellent addition to your next event.


In wrapping up, think of speakers bureaus as the masterminds behind the magic, weaving together the perfect tapestry of voices and visions to elevate any event. As the event world quickens with new trends and technologies, top-tier bureaus, are reshaping the narrative for both virtual and live audiences alike. When you collaborate with a speakers bureau, you’re not just booking a speaker; you’re crafting an unforgettable journey, sparking moments that resonate long after the curtain falls.

Frequently Asked Questions

What role does a speakers bureau play?

A speakers bureau serves as a bridge, linking clients with the best keynote speakers around, conference facilitators, celebrity guests, and motivational speakers. Utilising the services of a speakers bureau allows you to curate engaging panels, workshops, and events that will leave a lasting impression on attendees.

Should you join a speakers bureau?

Joining a bureau is a great early-career strategy since they can guide you towards opportunities and negotiate higher fees for you. These connections will also help your speaking business in many ways, since they interact with so many speakers and event planners alike.

What steps should I take to become a professional speaker?

If you’re aiming to carve out a career as a professional speaker, it’s crucial to hone your expertise in a specific subject matter, develop your public speaking abilities, master the art of speech writing, and maintain a professional online presence. Start your speaking journey by offering free talks locally and gradually build your reputation and increase your speaking fees.

Looking for a speaker, host or moderator for your next event?

Chat to us today to see how Holly can help bring your event objectives to life!

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Holly Ransom, global leadership speaker

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