Traditionally booked to sex up the corporate conference, motivational or celebrity speakers can garner extravagant fees in the Gulf, but does the investment pay off? Kathi Everden looks at the pros and cons of the big name stage show
For the client, where to research and how to source that show stopper is a process that can start with Google and a trawl of the latest motivational blockbuster reads, but should be augmented by expertise – either a call to one or two of the international speaker bureaux or even by consultation among work colleagues.
JLA’s Jeremy Lee puts the case for a speaker bureau that can act as an independent evaluator as well as having its own portfolio of tried and tested talent.
Founder of the UK’s leading speaker bureau, he’s been in the business for 23 years and is forthright about the need for objectivity: “The only three words that matter in choosing talent are audience, audience and audience. The least important factor is the personal taste of the organiser, sponsor or person signing the cheque,” he said, adding a caveat about the value of celebrity.
“Unless you catch a celebrity at the moment they hit the headlines, there’s absolutely no correlation between their profile and audience satisfaction at the end of the presentation. By all means hire a big name if your object is to attract an audience, imbue an event with authority or if you want people to boast to their friends ‘you’ll never guess who I’ve just seen’ – but not because you think it offers some kind of quality assurance. It doesn’t.”
The $50,000 dollar question…
For the best results, Jeremy Lee considers £10,000 ($16,000) a ‘reasonable’ budget where you don’t need the speaker’s name to sell tickets.
The priority is to get the right person for the job. “Book someone who speaks from experience, rather than an author or academic pontificating on any given subject,” says Lee.
He has one other intriguing suggestion – to halve the length of the average business conference. “There’s no need for it to be twice the length of a Wagner opera!”