In 1972, Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE, realized he was spending more to get bookings as a professional speaker than he was earning from them. He had a vision for an organization where professional speakers could convene to learn, exchange ideas and share experiences.
In Cavett’s words, "A desire to help others is our most noble attribute; it gives immortal momentum to life and is our only certain path to heaven.”
His vision came to fruition when the National Speakers Association was born in 1973. With very little promotion and mostly through word of mouth, NSA’s membership grew rapidly from 100 members in 1974 to more than 1,000 in 1980 and several thousand today. All the while, Cavett displayed an uncanny ability to inspire others and share his wisdom and expertise.
The “spirit of Cavett” – his love, encouragement, generosity and wisdom – has continued to pilot the Association as it grows, and Cavett’s influence lives on in the NSA mission statement, code of ethics, conventions, workshops and professional experts groups (PEGs).
Today, we continue to honor Cavett’s legacy by bringing speakers together, by building a more robust industry and by enhancing the quality of professional speakers. The annual Cavett Award commemorates the organization’s roots and honors the top professionals in the speaking industry.
- 1974 – The inaugural newsletter, Speak Out (predecessor to Speaker magazine), debuts.
- 1975 to 1976 – The first two NSA conventions (1975, with 60 attendees, and 1976, with 200) were held at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale. The third convention was held at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.
- 1976 – The first Voices of Experience (VOE) audio magazine (initially called “Cassette of the Month”) came out.
- 1977 – The CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame was created; 39 speakers were inducted. CPAE originally stood for Continuare Professus Articulatus Excellere, which eventually became the Council of Peers Award for Excellence.
- 1978 – The first out-of-state convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky.
- 1979 – The Cavett Award was first given in honor of NSA Founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE.
- 1979 – Meet the Pros, formerly called the Mentor/Mentee Program, kicked off at the annual convention.
- 1977 – Winter workshops started at the Lincolnshire Resort in Illinois.
- 1981 – The first Certified Speaking Professionals were presented.
- 1981 – The first chapters were chartered.