First And Foremost - A History
Saxton Speakers Bureau is Australia's first and foremost speakers bureau
James Strong, Ita Buttrose, Tom Thum, Layne Beachley, Mick Doohan, Linda Nicholls, James Morrison, Lily Serna, Mark Bouris, Rachel Botsman, Mike Munro, Megan Quinn, Rod McGeoch, Roger Corbett, Michael Carr-Gregg, David Thodey and many more.
The bureau, the first of its kind in Australia, was originally established by Joan Saxton, herself a very accomplished speaker, whose speaking experience had taken her to England and the United States and even as far north as Alaska!
The idea of establishing a speakers' bureau in Australia came from a friend in London, and Joan subsequently called together a meeting of speakers who, like herself, were on the "fer free" circuit in Australia. At that time fees ranged from three to ten guineas and expenses for the women speakers might be covered by anything from a hairdo to a new pair of stockings. In 1965 the company was launched in Melbourne with the headline 'Joan goes to war for after-dinner speakers'.
Joan Saxton Wins World Speech Contest
The company received a considerable boost in 1968 when Joan won a world speech contest in Calgary, Canada.
After the extensive media coverage, speakers rushed to join the bureau, the demand from clients grew, and engagements were being booked all over Australia and overseas. Businesses and corporations began to request speakers specialising in motivation, selling, marketing, stress management and various other subjects.
Joan has since been recognised in many ways, including BBC Radio appearances in the UK, television and radio appearances in Australia, numerous articles in newspapers and magazines and inclusion in the Who's Who of Australian Women.
Unprecedented Growth in 1988
Saxton Speakers Bureau entered a period of change and unprecedented growth in 1988 under the new direction of Nanette Moulton and Winston Broadbent. Nanette and Winston brought with them management, education, public relations, computer science and public speaking experience. Expansion on both the domestic and international fronts was facilitated by an increase in bureau personnel and the installation of state-of-the-art computer and processing systems, the best of their type in the world. Among the many initiatives instigated at this time were the introduction of comprehensive speaker catalogues and speaker showcases where clients could view live the speakers that they were considering for their next conference.
Saxton made catalogues and showcases a major part of the Australian speaker scene, running the Australia's first showcase at the Rialto in Melbourne in 1989 and producing the first catalogue in that same year. Numerous events and catalogues followed including the largest 'World of Speakers' catalogue and the Catch the Spirit Showcase in 2001 - the largest and most extensive ever produced in Australia.
Acquisition of the Harry M. Miller's Speakers Bureau
The acquisition of the Sydney-based Harry M Miller's Speakers Bureau in 1996 made Saxton one of the top six bureaux in the world. Once again setting benchmarks and taking advantage of new technological opportunities, in 1996 Australia's first bureau web site, Saxton Online, was launched. Since then the business uptake of the internet has been phenomenal and Saxton continued to build its online presence. The site had many revisions but was completely rebuilt in 2003 with sophisticated speaker search techniques, thousands of fully profiled speakers and many other features. The current incarnation, a state of the art, completely revamped edition, was launched in December, 2011.
One Bureau Becomes Many: 2002-2004
In 2002 Saxton embarked on a journey of further expansion. Its speaking activities were expanded with the establishment of Sydney and Queensland offices, the acquisition of Speakers Network International (in Sydney), and a training arm was established to service the training and business development requirements of their clients. The now Saxton Speakers Bureau is well placed to provide a diverse offering to their clients in addition to their hallmark speaking and entertainment services.
Celebrating Four Decades: 2005
The forty year anniversary was marked with a special event at the Sofitel. Joan Saxton underlined why she was accorded World Championship status with a short address.
Celebrity Speakers (NZ) joins Saxton: 2006
Celebrity Speakers (NZ) Ltd joined Saxton Speakers Bureau.We were delighted to announce that on the 1st September, 2006
Debbie Tawse, the founder of Celebrity Speakers, continued as Chairman of the Board and Managing Director with the Celebrity Speakers (NZ) Ltd team that had forged such an outstanding reputation as New Zealand's premier bureau. Louise Ryburn was appointed General Manager.
Celebrity (NZ) Ltd and Saxton had worked closely together for over 17 years and over that time built up considerable synergies. The new arrangement provided very significant benefits to both organizations and most importantly to our clients.
Sadly Debbie passed away later that year. We fondly remember her personally and for the enormous impact that she had on our industry. Louise Ryburn took over as Managing Director. Louise and her team have reinforced Celebrity Speakers as the premier speakers bureau in New Zealand.
James Strong and John Forsyth join the Saxton Board: 2009
We were delighted to announce the appointment of James Strong as Chairman and John Forsyth to the Board of Directors of Saxton Speakers Bureau.
Celebrating 45 Years: 2010
Saxton Ultimate Event Experience - a joint initiative with AIME (the Asia-Pacific Incentive and Meetings Expo) and the largest event of its type ever held in Australasia. 700 people from the events industry packed the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and were entertained by an outstanding line-up of Saxton speakers and entertainers. The event was a combination of the finest in speakers, entertainers, production and venue facilities. The event was staged again in 2011 and 2012, 2013 with the 2014 event attracting an expected audience of nearly 1500.
The Passing of James Strong
Sadly James Strong AO passed away in May, 2013. He is missed as a Board member, long term supporter of Saxton but most importantly he is missed as a wonderful friend.
The extravagant 50th Birthday Celebration
The Saxton fiftieth birthday celebration was hosted in Melbourne in 2015.
Mike Munro hosted an historical perspective of the development of the ‘Spoken word’ in Australia, introducing 22 Saxton luminaries along the way including Ita Buttrose, Gill Hicks, Mark Bouris and Layne Beachley.
There was fantastic support from Mike Hall from Rigoni Hall (Event and Creative Director), Meri Took from Staging Rentals (Producer) PurpleMonky (Video Producers), and Nanette Moulton from Saxton (Event Director).
It brought so many of the people who have been critical to Saxton together and distilled that 50 years into a little over two and a half hours. It was a proud moment for all who have been involved with the company. A short video of the event can be viewed here.
The Passing of Joan Saxton
Joan Saxton passed away at the age of 95 in December of 2015. There were several stirring tributes witten to the beloved industry pioneer, including by Lawrence Money in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Saxton has grown remarkably over the last 51 years and is poised for continued major expansion in both the range and scale of services that are offered. The fundamental factor in its success is, however, a dedicated team that continues to provide the creativity, personal contact and service that has always been its hallmark.
The Saxton team at Yering Station for Google's 'Search Inside Yourself' in 2015.
"Sandra, it has been DELIGHTFUL working with you."
Funktionality Events & Experiences
Subscribe to our newsletter