Andras Baneth is founder and CEO of SpeakerHub, the world’s fastest growing platform to connect public speakers with event planners for free. Recently, we spoke with Andras about the state of the public speaker arena and learned what separates the skilled and entertaining speakers from the rest of their peers.
Why did you decide to create SpeakerHub?
As most businesses, SpeakerHub grew out of a personal frustration when I was looking for speakers to invite; but each time I found an expert, I never knew if they were available to speak and whether they were good speakers. At the same time, when I tried to pitch myself as a speaker, I always found it difficult to do it the right way. So I “scratched my own itch” and created a platform that provides a solution to speakers and event planners with these challenges.
How does SpeakerHub work? How do you make money?
Unlike traditional agencies, we don’t charge any commission fee on speaker bookings. We work on a “freemium” basis; that is, speakers can create a speaker profile for free. But if they want additional visibility and more features, they can decide to upgrade. We also offer a free white-label speaker directory to associations, and we make money when their speakers decide to upgrade.
Which speaking topics are in the highest demand right now?
We’re working on tapping into big data to showcase trends in the speaking industry so speakers can fine tune their topics and pitch themselves accordingly. It’s hard to tell what is trending right now; but regardless of the topics, we see many requests for women speakers. There is also a clear need for experts with a proven track record on the topic they are covering.
What types of organizations or companies are requesting public speakers today? What goals are they trying to accomplish by hiring a speaker?
From local Rotary Clubs all the way to conferences with thousands of delegates, many different organizations are all looking for engaging speakers. They may need a workshop facilitator, a keynote speaker, or a panelist – it depends on the format, the event, and the approach. Speakers with a lot of visibility, a strong social media presence, or a book are always in higher demand as their name can be a pull factor for the event planners. Events want to “info-tain” participants (give them meaningful content while engaging them, too) so they come back again the next year.
What are some of the most important skills and qualities of an effective and entertaining speaker?
Excellent presentation skills are a must, but that’s not enough to be a successful speaker. One needs to work a lot on the content: it has to be specific, actionable, and also inspirational. Body language, voice, and speed are all necessary, but the most important factor is really the value of the speech. You cannot be an amazing presenter if the content is wafer thin.
Finish this sentence: “The most common error that I see inexperienced speakers make is…”
They pick a too broad topic, and they fail to understand that their #1 goal is to get event planners to trust them – trust in their skills, their reliability as a business service provider, their ability to engage the audience, and that they make the content relevant and actionable. Whatever they can do to increase trust will help them get hired. Unless they are A-list celebrities, event planners will initially be very skeptical and won’t hire them unless they are fully reassured.
As the founder of SpeakerHub, what types of leadership skills have you had to learn or master to be successful in your pursuits?
Finding the right balance between micromanagement and prioritizing strategic issues is a daily challenge for me. It’s easy to get bogged down by proofreading an article while a long-term financial plan is waiting for my attention. It’s a work in progress, but hopefully I’m getting better at it.
Regarding some of the leadership speakers you work with – do they embrace or promote a wide variety of leadership styles and practices? Or do you see any common themes that emerge?
One thing I noticed is that leadership has become a catch-all term, so many professionals are segmenting it and finding their niche – such as “leadership for women” or “leadership for millennials.”
As communication technology advances and access to information continues to improve, will there still be a demand for speakers like the ones at SpeakerHub?
I’m positive there will be. Even though all information humanity has ever produced is virtually available online, the event and conference industry is thriving. Maybe the explanation is “because of,” not “in spite of.” We need a human connection, often in a physical space, to understand, network, and get inspired. And speakers are masters at delivering all the above, whether it’s for a room full of people, a webinar, or a small group of seminar attendees.
John Mattone has written books on leadership and also provides speaking and training services. For more information, click here.