Once the event speaker has been secured (plan on one to two years prior to a live event; you could allow less time for a virtual event), effective communication with your speaker is a necessity for successful pre-event planning.
Six Months Prior to Event
By this point, the guest speaker has been confirmed. It’s vitally important to not overload her with “extra” event duties—however, think about maximizing her presence at the event:
• Would you like her to consider a VIP breakfast on-site with key leaders? (If yes, financial remuneration should be considered.)
• Would you like her to consider teaching a workshop in addition to the plenary session responsibilities? (If yes, financial remuneration should be considered.)
Your initial e-mail communication to the speaker should include event details, specific requests, and a financial agreement.
□ Name of event
□ Date(s) of event
□ Location of event—Include address and phone number.
□ Event theme or topic—Is speaker expected to direct her comments accordingly?
□ Specific goals for the event
□ Number of times she will speak—plenary session, workshop, morning devotional, etc.
□ Schedule and time allotted to speak—Be specific.
□ Names of event director, office secretary, and on-site hostess—Include e-mail addresses, land-line, and cell phone numbers.
□ Speaker’s personal/ministry biography, high resolution photo, and complete contact information—These will be used in promotional packet and event booklet; include a deadline.
□ Title and synopsis of her speaking topic(s)—This may be used in the event booklet, or on social media, if a virtual event; include a deadline.
□ List of speaker’s audiovisual needs—Let her know what is available; include a deadline.
□ Gain her permission to record the speaking sessions, for live events; or let her know details of making a link permanently available for virtual events.
□ Copies of speaker’s handouts—Ask her to send PDF files of her handouts so that you can make copies for her. Include a deadline so that materials are e-mailed to you in a timely fashion.
□ Speaker’s travel preferences—If your guest speaker is flying, would she prefer to have your office book the tickets, or to make her own flight reservations? If she chooses to book the flight, request her travel itinerary; include a deadline.
□ Vendor booth for speaker’s products—Does she wish to sell her products at the event? If yes, will she need assistance in set up or attending the booth? Who will provide a table covering, money bag, signage, and décor?
□ Product shipping—If speaker is hosting a vendor booth, suggest materials be shipped to event location.
□ Door prizes—If speaker is hosting a vendor booth, will she provide one to three door prizes for giveaways? Or would she be willing to give away a few samples of her product online for a virtual event?
□ Honorarium or fee agreements—“Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you" (Matthew 5:48, The Message).
□ Expense reimbursement plan—Determine how and when you will pay her for travel expenses.
□ Tax forms—Does your ministry require any forms to be completed by your guest, such as IRS 1099, etc.?
□ Mileage reimbursement—If the speaker is driving, it is appropriate for you to reimburse her mileage. Use the current IRS per mile expense rate.
□ Travel companion—If speaker is traveling with a spouse or ministry partner, what financial agreement will need to be made?
You should also consider pre-program promotion with your speaker:
• Would she tape a one-minute greeting for an online podcast that encourages event attendance? Or would she consider a short video to promote the event for social media? This message may not differ much for an in-person or online event. The point will be for your audience to become familiar with the speaker ahead of the event itself.
• Would she participate in a conference call with the event planning team in order to build prayerful partnership for the outcome of the event?
When considering preliminary communication, what other details may be important to convey to your event speaker in the initial communiqué?
In addition to the two ideas mentioned under “pre-program promotion,” what other promotional options might be plausible?
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise marked, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblicia, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
“Hosting a Guest Speaker” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.