Guest Speaker Checklist

by Tallulah Philange

Whether you're hosting a corporate retreat, convention or another special event, guest speakers can offer your audience new perspectives and the benefit of expertise. A checklist can help organize the arrangements so everything runs smoothly. For organization's sake, split the checklist into areas: travel, financial, technology, the address and speaker needs. The host and speaker can create checklists in these categories to ensure the event has no complications.

Travel Arrangements

Guest speakers, whether paid or volunteers, usually must travel to the speaking engagement. This can involve major travel plans, such as airfare and hotel, or a simple car ride. It's up to the host organization to make the arrangements. Find out where the speaker is coming from, what kind of transport she will need and her preferences for arrival time and departure. Also, get the speaker's pertinent information, such as date of birth, which is needed for some bookings. Then, the checklist should include booking travel -- booking a hotel if necessary and arranging for ground transportation such as a car. Add a note to confirm all arrangements several days before the engagement. Speakers' checklists should include providing the host with the information and confirming details as well.

Financial Arrangements

Items on the host's checklist should include confirming that payment was made to the speaker. Often, speakers are paid a portion before the event as a type of retainer and a portion after successfully completing the engagement. If this is the case, make two checklist items so you don't forget. The speaker's financial checklist should include providing the host with all relevant details, such as address or account number for direct deposit, as well as confirming that payment has been made.

Technology Needs

Many guest speakers employ technology as part of their address. Guest speakers should make a list of everything they'll need -- including laptops, overhead projector and screen, cables, pointer, microphone and so on. The host should request this information and add practical items, such as power cords, backup laptops and a technical person on hand to address any problems.

The Speech and Materials

Host organizations should make it clear what they're looking for from the speaker. This may include a specific topic to address, or more practical details, such as length of address. Make a list of everything and send it to the speaker. For the speaker, this checklist should include finishing and editing the address. The speaker also should check off creating duplicate copies of the speech and supporting materials, such as a PowerPoint. The host and speaker should work together beforehand to determine whether the speaker will provide an advance copy of the address, perhaps for the media or for a sign language interpreter.

Care for the Speaker

This section of the checklist is for the host, not the speaker. Your speaker should be treated as a VIP for the event. Assign a person to act as a liaison and handler for the speaker, and give the speaker the assigned person's contact information. On the day of the event, ensure that the handler knows where to greet the speaker and provides any necessary updates to the event and important details. The handler also should introduce the speaker to important people in the organization. Add items to the checklist that ensure the speaker's comfort during the event, such as bottles of water at the podium. Finally, add checklist items to remind yourself to thank the speaker following the event -- perhaps with a handwritten note or floral arrangement -- and to finalize any payments.

About the Author

Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.

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