How To Treat Your Guest Speaker

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  1. Pay them. Don’t make them ask for the check like you are a drug dealer. Don’t forget to add expenses.
  2. Be honest about how long you want them to speak. Mean it. Don’t take up half THEIR time with YOUR introduction or housekeeping which forces them to frantically make cuts on the fly to stay in your time frame.
  3. Offer them water. Snacks. A meal. Mints. Whatever’s appropriate. Show them where the restrooms are. Speakers are HUMAN—not robots-for-hire. They need to eat and sleep, too.
  4. Offer to pick them up at the airport or hotel so they don’t have to worry about transportation. If you provide a driver, your speaker will likely offer to name a child after you.
  5. If you know, tell your speaker what to expect from your group—age, gender, demographic, attention span, expectations . . . all the little quirks of your organization.
  6. Leave treats in the hotel room or a thank you gift basket. Don’t include a whole bottle of wine or fresh flowers if your speaker flew in. Can’t take them on a plane. Sadly, those gifts go to housekeeping at checkout.
  7. Have your event ready-to-rock. Podium. Mic. Signing table. Ask before about technology requests. Test the sound system on the day of the event.
  8. Reach out about a week before to confirm and remind of unique details, especially if there have been date or time changes. Identify one contact person and cell number for day-of questions.
  9. Ask your speaker to provide a short bio. You won’t have to write it! No mistakes from a last-minute online search for biographical material! Bonus: the speaker won’t have to worry about repeating information you randomly decide to include in the intro.
  10. Don’t expect them to speak for free, donate to your cause du jour, or perform additional work unless you’ve previously worked this out. This is your speaker’s JOB. Like you, speakers prefer to choose which causes they support with pro bono work, and they speak to charity events ALL THE TIME.
  11. If you aren’t providing transportation, save your speaker a parking space, and give precise, detailed directions.
  12. If your speaker does a great job for you, remember to write a good online review and recommend him or her to your friends and colleagues. Those of us who work as guest speakers talk to one another, too. You don’t want to be one of those venues or organizations we ALL avoid.
  13. Treat your speaker like an honored guest—not like an indentured servant. If you do, your guest speaker will work hard to personalize your event and make it extra-special!

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