How to Select Guest Speakers

One way to liven your association meeting is to invite a guest speaker. Having a guest ensures that the members don’t hear the same voice week after week, and it gives the regular program chair a welcome week off from putting together a program.

Step 1 — Be budget-conscious.

While a great many officials who have “made it” are more than willing to come to your meeting gratis, others specify or expect some kind of compensation. If you have extra money or if your budget includes a provision for a paid speaker, your options increase.

Step 2 — Get a scouting report.

If the speaker you’ve targeted is from the general area, check with other associations who may have used the speaker before. You may find that although the person you’re after has brilliant officiating credentials, he or she isn’t a skilled speaker or discusses techniques, rules and mechanics well beyond the level of your members.

Step 3 — Know what you want.

There are different types of speakers. Some are storytellers. Some are inspirational. Others are “envelope-pushers” who advocate controversial mechanics or philosophies. Have an idea which category best fits your group and find a speaker who meets that criteria.

Step 4 — Timing is everything.

Unless your meeting is between seasons, such as an annual banquet, the speaker you want may well be in the middle of his or her officiating schedule. That means their availability will be limited, so don’t be miffed they’d rather not give up a rare evening off to attend another officiating-related event. Also, the earlier you contact the speaker, the better your chances of landing him or her.

Step 5 — Pick a good night.

If history shows attendance dwindles as the season moves along, you might be best served to have a guest speaker at one of the first meetings of the year. On the other hand, having a celebrity in the house just might be the perfect bait to lure your members to the last meeting of the season.