Updated May 1, 2014
Has it got to the point where your members are asking questions about the DVD program you borrowed from the C.A.O.A.C. Programs Library? Do you have to wake them up when the lights are turned on? This is the first clue to the Program Committee/Chairperson that they had better start looking for a real-life, dyed-in-the-wool speaker, someone who can answer people’s questions on the spot and keep them awake.
Your first speaker will probably be someone from your own club who has been conned into giving a program. Let’s not be overly critical of his choice of program delivery – it’s probably what he knows best. If treated properly, he/she will gain confidence and someone from a nearby club will ask him/her to speak at one of their meetings.
Eventually, however, you will require the services of a speaker from farther away who can do a program on a specified subject that you want. In each club, there are usually one or two members who travel to various shows, auctions, conventions etc. This member can be asked about speakers they know, and who are willing to travel to speak at meetings. A complete list of speakers available through C.A.O.A.C. is on the appropriate page of the website – www.caoac.ca/speakers.html. Please read carefully how to arrange for the speaker of your choice to appear at your next club meeting or event. Most are contacted directly, and there is a list of which subject(s) they speak on and what expenses are involved.
Here are some basic rules on how to obtain and treat a guest speaker:
- The program chairperson should give at least one month notice in writing (email) and even more if possible. If the person/speaker is contacted by telephone a confirmation letter or email should be sent immediately. Give all necessary details, at this time, such as the date, the time, the location, the topic requested and the financial remuneration. Ask if any special equipment will be necessary for his presentation (projector, screen, laptop etc.). Remember to send a map or explicit directions to the meeting location.
- Send a friendly reminder about two weeks ahead of time, possibly stating how much your members are looking forward to his visit.
- If the speaker is expected to arrive before the meeting time (due to the distance traveled) it is only common courtesy and good manners to invite him/her to an individual member’s home and have that member escort the speaker to the meeting. A truly hospitable club will also invite the speaker to a small gathering after the meeting, if the speaker has time.
- At the meeting, the speaker should be introduced properly. This means that the program chairperson should take the time to gather some information on the speaker and present this background data to the membership as a build up to the program. This information is available on the C.AO.A.C. Website on the Speaker’s page shown above.
- Proper etiquette, of course demands that your speaker should get proper attention from the members without extraneous talking, whispering or unnecessary distractions.
- Unless there is a previous arrangement, the agreed upon fees for the speaker should be available and paid at the end of the meeting. The program chairperson should do this privately.
- If you would like your speaker to perform extra functions, such as judge or auctioneer, please ask ahead of time, privately. Your speaker may feel he/she is not qualified to perform your requests. At the least sign of reluctance in these matters, back off and explain you only asked out of courtesy.
- Don’t let one or two individuals dominate the entire speaker’s free time. A lot of members are reticent to ask questions during a program. They will most likely approach the speaker at the end of a meeting to get the answers to the questions they thought were too dumb to ask during the program or in the open question period immediately after the talk. Most speakers are glad to give opinions, advice etc., but they should not be bowled over or trapped by an over-eager member.
- When the speaker has finished their program, do not abandon him. Please remember the speaker is your guest until he actually leaves the city.
Remember the truly hospitable club has no trouble getting speakers to return. Your reputation for friendliness will be spread by the speaker to other persons who may turn out to be future speakers.