Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Choose a Speaker for Your Next Chapter Meeting

One of the most important aspects of chapter meetings is the speaker-- the person you choose can make or break your event. With that said, you need to select someone appropriate for the audience and your location, someone who is informed on a topic but engaging as a speaker -- all within your budget. Check out a few tips on making this process simpler:

Keep an organized database of previous speakers. Be sure to include contact information, a brief rundown of their speech and subjective comments on the speakers' performance and reception from attendees. It's fine to draw on past successes every now and then: If a certain speaker begins to gain popularity as an engaging and entertaining presenter, the event attendance can only get better.

Plan ahead. Know what your meeting topics and goals will be for the next six to eight months, and choose speakers accordingly.

Tell your speaker what you expect, and be specific. Although the speaker has the task of creating the content, you need to tell them what the meeting's goals are. They might have the expertise on their subject matter, but you are the expert when it comes to your meeting, your members and your association. If you can, show examples of previous successful presentations, give clear time limits; tell them exactly what equipment will be available; and get a copy of the speech ahead of time. If the speaker isn't prepared, you'll look unprepared.

Check references. Speak with other local associations to learn about their experiences with a certain speaker. Find out what worked well and what could be improved on.

Ask members for referrals. Is there a person at his/her job that knows their stuff on a certain topic? Did they see a great presentation at a meeting? Referrals and word of mouth can be a great way to find speakers.

Connect with the National Speakers Association or a local speakers bureau. This is a chapter-based organization with members who are professional speakers and presenters. Use their expertise and suggest a potential joint venture with a local chapter.


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