Organizing a speakersí bureau requires three distinct steps: recruiting
volunteers who are knowledgeable about a topic or project, preparing
a script and presentation, and finding and scheduling speaking opportunities.
There may be one presentation that several different people give
or each volunteer may have his or her own specialized presentation.
Speakersí bureaus are educational outreach; they are also about
promoting positive public relations and building community support.
to giving information, speakersí bureaus can be used to gather information.
From collecting names for a mailing list to getting comments on
flip charts or distributing surveys, the speaker can learn how well
people understand a project, whether they are supportive of proposed
actions, and potentially recruit new volunteers.
who are comfortable speaking and who may have experience. They do
not have to be members of a project committee as long as they are
willing to receive training and the committee feels confident of
them as their ambassadors. If the project is especially long, it
may be necessary to recruit others to join the bureau or to develop
means of motivating the volunteers.
The first step
is for the full project committee to agree upon the message and
key points. Then delegate to a subcommittee the actual preparation
of the presentation and accompanying materials. Try to include on
the subcommittee people with skills in photography, writing, and
graphics. This committee may act as a support to a subject expert
if the speakersí bureau is going to offer different presentations.
If there will be only one presentation, consider preparing different
scripts for different sessions: breakfast meetings require the briefest
remarks; lunch meetings are more businesslike; and after-dinner
speeches should not be too serious. It may be also helpful to script
potential questions and answers so that speakers are not caught
off-guard. In a Q&A session, one of the most important responses
is: "I donít know the answer, so let me get your name and number
and get back to you." Remember the purpose of these speaking engagements
is to spread accurate information and strengthen credibility and
trust in the community.
both the presentation and project budget, it may be useful to include
propos such as slides, computerized projections, maps, displays,
etc. Ideally, each speaker should have a separate set of presentation
materials to avoid confusion and potential scheduling conflicts.
If this is not possible, arrange for storage of props at a central
location, ideally one where all speakers can have 24-hour access.
Speakers should also be supplied ample copies of brochures, newsletters,
flyers, or other informational and promotional material that explains
Have the volunteers
go over the scripts and practice many times. Depending upon the
project budget, participants may benefit from a professional speaker.
At minimum, there should be "dress rehearsals" where each speaker
is videotaped and then the group reviews the tape. Donít forget
to also stage a Q&A session and have the speakers use and be familiar
with any props.
To find groups,
begin by having the project committee brainstorm a list. Prepare
a flyer that lists the topic, or topics, of presentation and contact
information then mail the flyers to every community organization.
Follow up with the mailings by calling or, ideally, making a personal
contact with a known member.
6. Get the
about an engagement should include the time, date, and place of
the meeting; an agenda or any pre-publicity if applicable; the anticipated
audience size; the format such as lecture, panel discussion, or
workshop; amount of time allocated to speak; and, if applicable,
availability of aids like a microphone, lectern, slide projector,
etc. If the presentation will be at a distant location, travel and
lodging arrangements will need to be discussed. Speakers should
not arrive at a facility expecting a slide projector only to find
an overhead unit instead. Ask beforehand what is available, what
should be brought, or what will need to be done without. Being prepared
for different facilities means using different props.
presentation is speaker-specific, assign a presenter that might
already have a connection with the group or organization. If that
is not possible, just make sure there is not a negative history
between the speaker and the audience or for some reason the speaker
would be uncomfortable. Respect the reasons and remember that the
speakers are volunteers.
8. Keep a
In case of
last minute cancellations or emergencies, speakers should have a
list that includes each speakerís name and phone number and a calendar
showing all engagements. One person should be responsible for coordinating
schedules, responding to special requests for information following
a presentation, and soliciting new engagements.