Frequently Asked Questions

Do JLA exclusively represent all the speakers, presenters and performers on this site?

No. We represent a number on an exclusive basis and work directly with the overwhelming majority, but we also deal extensively with artist managements.

Do JLA work with other names beyond those featured?

Yes. We maintain an ever-growing talent database with over 8,000 updated records. Those featured on the site and in The Index have been chosen on the basis of topicality, value, reliability, positive feedback and their own enthusiasm for corporate engagements – but this should never be treated as a finite list.

What distinguishes JLA from other agencies and speaker bureaux?

Scale, service and a constant search for new talent. As the UK’s largest specialist provider, we have more buying power, experience, feedback and relationships than any other. We also host regular, free showcases and have launched dozens of names onto the circuit; but the most important distinction is the length to which JLA account managers go to understand and support clients’ objectives.

Do JLA cover the US speaker circuit?

Yes. We have a partnership with Keppler Speakers based in Arlington, Washington, and long-standing ties with many other American offices.

Is there an industry body setting out a code of practice for agencies?

Yes, although very few speaker bureaux are members. JLA sits on the Council of the Agents Association, which has been promoting professional relations with ‘buyers of talent’ since 1927. We are also members of IASB – the International Association of Speaker Bureaux.

With a limited event budget, why spend thousands on speakers and talent?

In our last survey of organisers and producers carried out in December 2007, 77% of the total 542 respondents said they consider external speakers and talent the most memorable aspect of an event. Only 15% believe internal speakers have more impact.

But in a tough economic climate, aren’t speakers and performers a luxury item?

No, absolutely not. When an organisation is feeling the pressure, that’s when they have the greatest need to inspire the troops, tap into leading thinkers, communicate the strategy, reward achievement in the face of adversity – and provide a little comic relief to demonstrate true appreciation of their people.

What do we get from a famous name that we don’t get from an unknown?

If a famous name helps attract your target audience or provides a necessary ‘wow’, book a celebrity. Do not book celebrities purely because the powers-that-be assume they will automatically be better received than a less well known name. Fame commands a premium for good reasons, but audience appreciation is not directly proportionate to profile – or fees.

What should I take into account when choosing who to book?

The four key considerations are audience, objectives, budget and venue. The speaker or artist should match the audience demographic, meet the aims of the brief and feel comfortable with the space – whether intimate or cavernous. Clearly they must also be affordable. What really shouldn’t matter, if it clashes with any of these criteria, is the personal taste of the host or decision maker.

Why should we book a ‘business guru’?

Think carefully before booking anyone described as a ‘guru’! It’s an over-used term (avoided by JLA), often applied to a speaker with a theory for solving every management problem but little experience of having solved anything in the real business world. On the other hand, speakers who have run organisations and who have the ability to articulate and draw from their experience can add real value to a conference – even if they come from a very different industry.

Why are there so few female speakers on the circuit?

We don’t know. The number of female conference speakers presumably reflects the proportion of female business leaders. The balance appears to be changing, but very gradually. JLA is constantly looking for more female after dinner speakers – all recommendations are gratefully received.

Will motivational speakers adapt their presentation to meet our brief?

The best motivational speakers fall into one of two camps: those who have achieved remarkable feats, and those who help others achieve. (There is a third type, similar to the ‘business guru’ above.) Many have a range of material from which to draw, but some are more flexible than others. Please ask your JLA agent to advise you on the briefability of individual speakers.

Do presenters’ fees include a briefing and rehearsal?

Conference presenters and awards hosts should not charge a fee to attend a briefing, where it is necessary. Rehearsals taking place before the day of the event will command a fee, typically half the daily event rate.

Should we expect an after dinner speaker to attend dinner?

Generally, yes. Attending dinner offers an opportunity for the speaker to familiarise him/herself with the organisation, and for the host to introduce the speaker to guests. However, a number of speakers do not attend dinner – please ask your JLA agent to advise before confirming a booking.

How can I ensure a presenter or entertainer doesn’t offend anyone?

Controls on the use of language cannot in practice be incorporated into a contract. Artists are booked ‘as known’. If you fear an artist might cause serious offence, do not book him/her. On the other hand, most performers will be pleased to receive guidelines on what is and isn’t considered appropriate in terms of references to the host organisation, sponsors and clients.

How long a performance should we expect?

With some exceptions, conference presentations last anything from 30 minutes to an hour (including questions); after dinner speeches from 20 to 40 minutes; cabaret from 10 to 30 minutes, and dancebands from 45 minutes to 2 hours (with breaks). Most speakers and performers are able to work to your brief, to be agreed in advance. Paradoxically, with speakers and comedians, it is not a case of the longer the performance, the more value you get for your money.

At what point is the speaker/presenter/performer securely booked?

The booking process begins by ‘pencilling’ the speaker, presenter or performer. Once you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a Booking Agreement authorising JLA to make a formal offer on your behalf. When this is accepted and their signature is received, JLA will then send you a signed contract. At this point the booking is secure, subject to the terms of the contract.

How far in advance can I make a booking?

In theory there is no limit to how far in advance you can book, providing the other party is prepared and in a position to make a commitment. In practice, more than two thirds of bookings are made within three months of the engagement.

Is it worth signing a contract with a TV get-out clause?

In most cases, yes. Presenters accept engagements in good faith, but where TV recording schedules are yet to be confirmed, a get-out clause might be requested releasing the presenter at any time up to six weeks before the event. Likewise, a number of news presenters require a clause releasing them where necessary for broadcast duties. On the very rare occasions when these clauses are exercised, JLA agents pull out all the stops to offer an alternative of equal or greater stature.

Are we permitted to record or webcast the performance?

Only when this is an integral part of the contract or when permission has been sought in writing and agreed in advance. Requests will often be agreed, subject to limited usage and on the basis that a copy be sent to JLA. Please take note of the Terms & Conditions attached to your Booking Agreement.

The JLA Index 2014/15

The directory of speakers, presenters and performers for live events.

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