Many social clubs and local organizations like to bring guest lecturers to their community. Whether it’s a popular author, a political figure or a public celebrity, guest lecturers are welcomed by clubs and organizations all across the country. But there is more to hosting a public speaking event than simply inviting a guest lecturer and putting an advertisement in the local papers. Months of planning are required to make the event a success, and many club activity directors can find themselves out of their depth when making preparations for a guest lecturer. But by taking it one step at a time, it can be easy for your club or civic group to host a successful speaking event.
For Profit or Not For Profit – That Is the Question
One of the first questions club organizers need to ask themselves, is whether or not the lecture will be open to the public. And if it is open to the public, will their be a fee for attending? If the purpose of the speaking event is to raise money, either for the club or for a charity, the club’s activity director will need to work out cost allowances, set a production budget, and determine a ticket fee. They will need to figure in all attendant costs, including the guest speaker’s fee, the cost of the hired venue, advertising costs, and the cost of printing tickets and playbills. Setting a production budget, and determining ticket fees, is the first step to planning any speaking event.
Choosing a Venue
Assuming the lecture will be open to the public, it will be necessary to book a suitable venue in which to hold the event. It may be tempting to hold the event at a clubhouse or activity center as a way to keep costs down, but if the event is open to the public a professional events venue is always the better choice. Professional event spaces offer more than just usable space. They are purpose built for social gatherings, and the on-site staff are experts in making social events a success.
There are a few key points to consider when choosing a venue for a public speaking event. First and foremost, location is important. The venue should be centrally located, and should be easily accessible for all of your attendees. It should also be close to the hotel in which your guest speaker will be staying. This will make it much easier for your lecturer to find the venue, and will eliminate any unnecessary traveling time for them or their driver.
Before booking an events space, the club’s activity director should make a point of visiting the venue in person. Most hired venues can offer a selection of rooms and halls to suit any public gathering. For a public speaking event you will want a hall that is comfortable and elegant. Remember, this is not a corporate seminar, and ticket holders should arrive to find a venue that is pleasant, well appointed, clean and welcoming. While visiting the venue, it is also important to check that it offers adequate parking, handicap access, and restroom facilities that are clean and presentable. You may also want to inquire as to the availability of an anteroom where your guest speaker can relax and prepare themselves before the lecture begins.
Refreshments are not really mandatory at a speaking engagement that is open to the public. That being said, if the lecture is particularly lengthy you may want to plan for an intermission. This allows the audience to stretch their legs and recharge themselves before the second half of the performance. If your event includes a scheduled intermission, it may be wise to provide a wet bar in the lobby. A small bar offering wine and a selection of cocktails can be set up to provide the audience with light refreshment during the intermission. Providing a wet bar is also a way of making a little extra profit from the evening, which can be particularly important if the event you are planning is designed to raise money for a local charity.
Once you have decided on a suitable venue, all that is left is to hire a printer for the playbills and tickets for your event. Now is also the time to begin thinking about advertising. Depending on budget restrictions, advertising may include local papers, radio, and television. Remember, it is vital to properly advertise your event, otherwise all of your planning and organization will be for naught.
Clubs and local civics groups have a long history of inviting guest speakers to their community. It is a way of a bringing the wide world a little closer to home. If your club or civic group is planning to host a celebrity speaking engagement, remember to plan ahead. Set your budget accordingly, find the perfect event space, advertise accordingly and prepare to enjoy an evening in good company.