GSF History


Cavett Robert (1907-1997) began his career as a teacher in his home state of Arizona, USA. After studying and practicing law, he became a highly successful salesperson. His success in selling led him into the field of training and professional speaking. After joining Toastmasters International, he became the World Champion of Public Speaking in 1942. 

Cavett was passionate about helping others, and he started telling his peers that he wanted to help other people to become better speakers. Many of Cavett’s peers at this time were wary of Cavett’s passion, concerned that others would “take a piece of our pie”. But Cavett’s motto was always:


“Don’t worry about how we divide up the pie.
Let’s just make a bigger pie!”


In the sixties, most professions were so filled with competition that this thinking wasn’t rewarded. However, in an industry where previously very few organizations used professional speakers, this ignited an industry boom.

Cavett Robert’s dream became a reality when he founded the National Speakers Association (NSA) in 1973. He built the association on this concept:

“There is nothing that can’t be accomplished when the
right people are swept up in a worthy cause,  
divorced from who gets credit for what!”


Over the next decade, three other countries followed suit by setting up national associations of professional speakers:

1987: National Speakers Association of Australia, now Professional Speakers Australia

1994: National Speakers Association of New Zealand

1997: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers

A New Global Entity Evolves

The idea of creating a truly global entity for the professional speaking business began evolving around the late 1980s. Patricia Ball (NSA President 1996-97) and Warren Evans (CAPS President 1998-99) shared a dream to take Cavett’s “expanding pie” idea to the world by creating a truly international organization.

At the 1995 NSA convention, there was a breakthrough meeting between Patricia Ball and Warren Evans. Together they sketched out the conceptual format of what would eventually become this new international entity. ball-evans

Over the next two years, together with other committed visionaries David Price (PSA President 1998-99 and David Sweet (CAPS President 1996-97), they refined the concept, resolved issues, and moved the process forward. 

During the 1997 NSA USA convention in Anaheim, California, David Price presented the final proposal to the Board of NSA USA. Their support was integral to providing the initial benefits for member associations (Speaker Magazine and Voices of Experience CD). When the proposal was passed, this marked the completion of the journey from vision to reality.
The Boards of Directors of the first four member countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States – approved the formation of the International Federation For Professional Speakers in July 1997. The Federation officially launched in January 1998. signing-iffps

 iffpsThe IFFPS was originally set up to provide a conduit through which associations and their members can share and benefit from the knowledge, experience and the wisdom of each other.

Many other countries soon began forming national associations of professional speakers:






w_mitchelljoe-sherrenThe advent of the Internet had impacted IFFPS in many positive ways, but it became clear that the Federation needed a name that was more searchable and easier for people to remember. The discussion about changing the name was initiated by Joe Sherren in his term as IFFPS President, and continued during W. Mitchell’s Presidency. In 2009 the name was officially changed from the IFFPS to the Global Speakers Federation (GSF).







Growth Led To Restructuring

The world of professional speaking has certainly come a long way, and it continues to evolve.

With more speaking associations being formed all over the world, the Federation restructured in 2018. This transition engages association leaders in the Federation and reaffirms the vision of global collaboration.

Nabil Doss, GSF President 2016-17, led the Federation through the important first year of this transition. In his report, Nabil said: “With this new structure, we have created one of the most powerful masterminds on the planet. It’s up to us to take advantage of our tremendous combined brainpower to resolve our challenges with a concerted and collaborative mindset.”

GSF: At The Heart Of Our Community

As of July 2019, there are 16 professional speakers member associations who belong to the Global Speakers Federation.   We look forward to welcoming more who are currently in formation and development.

The Global Speakers Federation is proud to be at the very heart of our global community.


See the GSF Presidents through the years