Inviting guest speakers to be part of your society meeting programme provides variety and interest. The speaker is more likely to be a collector but consider other options as well – eg a dealer, a representative of NZ Post, a designer, etc. Whoever you choose you should apply the same procedures to ensure the meeting is successful and satisfactory for you, your members and the speaker.
Choosing a speaker
- Look at your programme over the last few years and identify subjects which may have been overlooked or not been given adequate coverage.
- Check other society programmes. You may receive exchange newsletters with other societies which have programmes or check the Federation website which lists society programmes for the current year.
- Look at the results of recent National exhibitions.
Before contacting a speaker
- Ensure you are providing a good lead-in time before any possible meeting date.
- Have some optional dates although by all means have a preferred date. And, if the original subject material is not available for one reason or another, would you be able to accept an alternate subject from the person who is still keen to speak to your meeting.
- Be sure you understand what you can offer in the way of any travel or accommodation assistance for the speaker – many speakers are happy to talk on their subject, will not expect full recompense, will appreciate an offer and may take you up on any offer made.
- Know what equipment you are able to supply for the speaker – for example, how many display boards of what capacity, are you able to provide a PC, projector, screen (more speakers are making use of PowerPoint presentations) and extension cord (if needed).
Contacting a speaker
- If you do not have the speaker’s contact details an approach to the society which has listed the speaker in their programme may be able to help otherwise contact the secretary of Federation who might be able to assist. Remember there are privacy requirements to be complied with.
- Explain to the person what you were hopeful of arranging and when. Discuss what you and the speaker are able to offer and hopefully a mutually acceptable arrangement will be reached.
- Confirm, in writing, with the speaker the arrangements that have been agreed.
- Obtain from, or confirm with, the speaker the title of the talk and a brief outline of content so this can be included in society notices, your society newsletter or any other publicity before the meeting. Note that if the speaker is coming from some distance away and the topic is of general interest members of neighbouring societies may have an interest in attending your meeting.
- Ensure any equipment promised will be available.
- Even well-laid plans can go awry. Consider having a few meetings planned near the time of your visiting speaker that can, if needed, be re-scheduled if the speaker is unable to attend on the date agreed for reasons that lie outside of their control. In these circumstances the speaker will probably go out of their way to make an alternate date if you have one.
One month prior to meeting
- Contact the speaker to ensure everything is in place and any travel and accommodation matters are resolved.
- Where the speaker is finding their own way to the venue describe location and any specific access issues (eg parking, security).
- Provide the speaker with the meeting agenda and approximate timing.
Before the meeting
- Ensure all the equipment is installed. If a PowerPoint presentation is being used it is wise to ensure the equipment is working and there is someone present who is able to ‘troubleshoot’ the technology. The speaker is also likely to want to ensure some familiarity with this equipment before the meeting commences.
- Ensure the speaker is welcomed and that someone has been selected to ‘look after’ him or her and to advise on the venue facilities.
During the meeting
- Your speaker is the ‘star’ of the show and it is imperative the time management of the meeting ensures they get the agreed clear opportunity to give their talk.
- At the appropriate time, introduce the speaker and the floor is then his or hers.
- After the talk provide plenty of opportunity for questions and viewing of the material on show.
- Arrange to have someone propose a vote of thanks and make any presentation to the speaker.