Talk’s not cheap on the speaking circuit

Talk’s not cheap. On the Australian speaking circuit it comes with a price tag that includes appearance fees , scheduling, persuasion, persistence and most importantly – timing.

When Karen Beattie’s start-up speaker-recruitment company bought U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Australia for a series of speeches the stars were in perfect alignment, ending three years of frustration.

“We were courting her before she put her hand up for the presidential election. Obviously, that went on hold. Then with the result of that election we waited a little while before we reached out to her,” Ms Beattie told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Then she launched her book of course. When speakers launch books they have an appetite to speak to the world.”

Beattie’s agenda of speakers has become another outstanding start-up success in Australia, growing from a grass roots idea with $20,000 she funded herself, into a $10m orgainsation with extensive contacts in other countries and to leading personalities.

The Growth Faculty’s success in bringing leading international figures to Australia’s lecture circuit  include Pakistan pacifist Malala Yousafzai, author pf the best-seller The E-Myth Michael Gerber, U.S. author Jim Collins and Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell.

The company now boasts a network on nearly 50,000 business owners around the world. Speakers are paid an agreed fee to talk at conferences. Their accommodation and travel expenses are also met.

After that, the onus is on Ms Beattie and The Growth Faculty to make the conference work by arranging publicity, marketing, advertising and directly campaigning to specific audiences likely to be interested in the speaker’s subject.

Then comes the tense time of waiting to see if it is all going to work and make a profit.

Most of her events are self-funded.  She says its hard to get a business load because she is in a “very high risk business.”

The tyranny of distance is also an obstacle times in luring speakers. Australia is just so far away from the lucrative and consistent American circuit.

“A lot of them (speakers) are based in the U.S. and the market there is really big and they are busy,” she told the SMH.

The company’s first venture cost $20,000 and was funded by Ms Beattie. She says it was a “scary move” to “have her own money on the line.’’

The Growth Faculty’s focus on women speakers has been deliberate because they provide inspiration and reflect on their own experiences. “As a female entrepreneur I was looking for role models and I really wanted to hear from women who are playing a bigger game; changing the world and dominating industries,’ she said.