Being a speakers' advocate is not always easy

A few months ago an assistant at a college was quite abusive to me when I wasn't forthcoming with a list of my speakers fees. She wouldn't tell me about the event nor when the speaker was required. She refused to speak to me by phone, only by email, and wouldn't return any of my calls even though she had my toll-free number.

When I tried to explain as gently as possible, while attempting to help her save face, she wrote me a long nasty email telling me how I was a terrible employee and that my boss should be told of my unprofessionalism. (Whew! It's a good thing I own the company or I'd be fired!)

This is the kind of polite request I receive quite often:

"Our meeting manager is putting together a spreadsheet for the client to review. If you will forward the pertinent information to her about your speaker, I am sure she will add him to the list. I am not sure of the budget yet."

To which my helpful response is:

"This is where I hit a snag. As an agent (not a bureau), I work for the speaker, so I'm required to do things a little differently. I have an agreement with my speakers to not disclose fee and contract term information without first knowing more about the event. This is confidential information and is not for general circulation. I understand your position, and yet we don't know when the event is to determine if the speaker is even available. It's conceivable he could be filming on location at that time. His fee information then becomes moot.

It would be ever so helpful to have more information from your client so that I could present it to him. It's my job as a speaker's advocate to respect my speaker's time. If the date is unavailable I don't have to waste his time with multiple phone calls. If your budget happens to be less than the fee he normally charges, there may be a way to make it happen at your price. I'd hate to have him rejected because of a perception about his fee.

My job also is to protect speakers, especially celebrities, from unnecessary rejection. I find meeting planners rarely make counter-offers when a speaker's fee is higher than their budget; they tend to reject a speaker out of hand without discussion. It's my objective to try to find a happy balance between both parties.
I have on my site a checklist which might help you collect the information I need to help a speaker say yes to your event.

I'd really like to work with you on this and will be as helpful as I can without violating the trust my speakers have placed in me."

My phone number is (814) 431-9278.