Death of a Platform Speaker
By Ed Primeau
It was 1998; the professional speaking industry was receiving national attention thanks to the leadership of Dr. Terry Paulson CSP, CPAE and the National Speakers Association Board of Directors.
CBS news was at the National Speakers Association Convention in San Antonio interviewing members for a 60 minutes television segment on the business of professional speaking. Professional Speaking was off and running as a legitimate profession. Unfortunately the show didn't turn out as we thought but American's (and many other countries around the globe) were all officially introduced to the professional speaking profession using a very impressive message delivery system, television. What they failed to cover was the difference between professional speakers and experts who speak professionally.
Ten years later, our nation survived a terrorist attack and is in the process of recovering from a recession. Both continue to stun the meetings industry. Professional speaking, as usual, will never be the same ever again!
The industry known as professional speaking is dying. It is dying because professional speakers are not evolving with the marketplace and for that matter the business world at large!
We see it first hand ever day as professional speakers are now looking for jobs. Former school teachers who jumped on the professional speaking band wagon years ago and made a decent living are now unemployed. The main reason this is happening is those professionals have not done anything to evolve. They are waiting for the old school industry to return.
Those professional speakers who are "experts who speak professionally" and know how to be visionaries are the platform orators who will survive and thrive as the industry heals itself.
Fact: Experts, who speak professionally, not just professional speakers, are a vital commodity to corporate America because they can teach, motivate and change the attitude of hundreds of people anywhere in the world in an hour or less.
Fact: The professional speaking industry will never be the same again. Professional speakers whom are not experts who speak professionally will eventually perish and die. The meetings industry can see right through the old fake it till you make it mentality.
Fact: Professional speakers are starting to come outside their heads like a refugee coming out of a bomb shelter after an air attack looking around to see who is left alive. Experts who speak professionally are realizing that they have to reinvent themselves.
Primeau Productions Inc. and I have seen a lot of professional speakers come and go. In the following items, we hope to communicate a non arrogant description of a surviving professional speaker. These activities are a collection of items written by Primeau productions staff that experts who speak professionally engage in today.
So, what are the characteristics of a surviving speaker?
Professional speakers are survivors because they know how to make it through the tough times. They are not arrogant and reluctant to negotiate fees and add value when necessary. They are not insistent on limousines and first class tickets.
Survivor professional speakers continue to learn and grow. They are not broad in subject and able to speak on just about any topic that a client willing to pay for. They are experts and continue to learn and grow rather than remain idol and passive.
Instead, a survivor professional speaker is willing to adapt to market conditions, trends and do whatever it takes to get the job done and impact lives.
Professional speakers are willing to have a fee range instead of a "fee".
Professional speakers who are experts who speak professionally understand value and negotiation and are not arrogant about negotiation. They shop for the best price when looking for a service and understand their prospects also want to shop around negotiate.
There are way too many speakers who call themselves "professional speakers" and way too many bureaus who call themselves "speaker's bureaus".
Professional speakers who have a brand which is a clear statement prospects remember them by are survivors. Who do you think of when you hear Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm, Attitude is Everything, The Fred Factor?
Speaker's bureaus that represent a few select professional speakers who are the best of the best will survive. They fill have evolved and provide a service for corporations who need help discovering the speakers to best deliver the perfect message for their organization.
Survivor professional speakers have a professional website and of course have a world class preview video. They do not rely on speakers bureaus alone to bring them business, but also know how to promote themselves using social media to publish and promote their knowledge.
They are willing to consider alternative marketing strategies like viral video and social media as well as blog's. They know how to pick and choose the outlets that will help them promote their message and distribute it professionally to those appropriate outlets.
The bottom line is that this industry was built on people helping people to succeed. If some have been fortunate enough to earn a living from helping people, that is wonderful. Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Earl Nightengale, Og Mandino and Cavett Robert all delivered a message to help people succeed and made a wonderful living from their efforts.
If you are reading this and feel that you do not have anything different to contribute to help people success, get out while you have time before you deplete your life savings. If you are a bureau and have no vested interest in helping people succeed, time to but a fast food franchise.
Rather than just sell every speaker without knowing whether each speaker you represent is still in the business or not, then get another occupation. Make room for those speakers' bureaus that really have a purpose and mission of helping other people succeed. Yes, there are speaker's bureaus who still list retired speakers, speakers who have left the industry, and speakers who have even died on their websites. How arrogant to think companies will buy from them!
Be a caring individual with a definite purpose and you will be a survivor.