Partners with a Purpose
Advice and Practical Tips to Help Develop an Effective Working Relationship with Your Guest Speaker
How to Engage and Work with a Guest Speaker
So you are planning a special event and want to invite a guest speaker! As you eagerly look forward to your event, rest assured that your speaker considers it a privelege and a genuine compliment to be invited to share that special time with you and your guests. You and your speaker have become partners with a purpose!
Here are some ideas and suggestions to assist you in helping your speaker do a great job.
1. Initial Contact
INFORMATION YOUR SPEAKER WILL APPRECIATE
- Contact speaker well in advance (12–18 months may be necessary).
- Offer a preferred date and, if you can, an alternate date.
- Give location: city, state, and nearest airport.
- Give a general description of your event's goal and theme; names of other presenters (if any) and their topics.
- Describe the audience and anticipated attendance.
- Describe the presentation you would like the speaker to make:
- topic and its goal (entertainment? information? motivation?);
- length (does length include Q&A time?); and
- placement in the program.
- Allow speaker to suggest the title for the presentation.
- Discuss equipment needed by speaker.
- Discuss who will make travel arrangements.
- Discuss fee, honorarium, and expenses.
- Indicate appropriate dress for the occasion.
- Obtain contact information for speaker and discuss preferred method of communication.
2. First Letter of Confirmation
IMMEDIATELY AFTER FIRST CONTACT
- Send a letter of confirmation within one week of initial contact, reviewing details of previous contact.
- Send (or give at the event) an expense form with an address and instructions about when to submit it.
- Request a biography and photo, if needed.
3. Second Letter of Confirmation
ONE MONTH BEFORE EVENT
- Confirm event.
- Indicate anticipated attendance numbers.
- Confirm physical arrangements:
- setting: classroom, sanctuary, auditorium, or other location;
- speaker placement: on stage, at end of room, or other placement;
- indicate if requested equipment has been secured: ﬂipchart, laptop, projector, screen, fixed or portable microphone, extension cords, other equipment;
- if requested, supply a table for speaker's books, with someone to receive money; and
- indicate if audio or videotaping will be part of the event.
- Share name and phone number of person meeting speaker at airport (someone with a ﬂexible schedule who will not be inconvenienced by possible delays); share speaker's cell number with the driver.
- Indicate in what part of airport host will meet the speaker.
- Supply location and phone number where speaker will be housed.
- If arrival is by car, supply map and parking instructions.
- Request handouts or other materials; confirm who makes necessary copies.
4. On-Going Contact with Speaker
PAINTING A PICTURE OF THE EVENT
- When available, send speaker a copy of the program and schedule.
- Send speaker copies of publicity, newspaper articles, or other materials concerning event.
- Telephone about two weeks before event to offer last minute information.
- Discuss whether books or materials speaker sent in advance have arrived.
WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE HERE!
- Assign a hostess for your speaker.
- If you plan to present a corsage, inquire about allergies or problems with pinning to fabrics such as silk or suede.
- If you plan to present a gift, offer to ship large or heavy items which may not fit into a suitcase.
- Upon arrival, inquire if speaker wants to rest or eat (some speakers prefer not to be "entertained” prior to the event and consider themselves on assignment).
- If ﬂights are delayed, you may need to change plans for group meals or other social events.
6. Equipment Check
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
- Upon arrival, offer speaker an escorted tour of the event setting.
- Check microphones, electrical connections, electronic equipment, and lighting at podium.
7. Introduction of Speaker
WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO THIS PERSON?
- Ask speaker to supply introductory information or a written introduction.
- Introduction should answer the basic question, "Why should we listen to this person?”
- Place a glass of fresh water at the lectern.
8. Honorarium and Expenses
ATTENTION TO DETAILS
- Have honorarium check ready to present at the event.
- Second check for expenses (such as mileage, parking fees, meals, or postage) may be included with thank you letter after the event.
9. After the Event
FEEDBACK AND APPRECIATION
- Within one week of the event, send a thank you letter.
- Offer positive feedback from participants, as well as credible negative comments.
Revised by the Leader Development Committee in 2013.