One great aspect of off-site ministry is bringing in a guest speaker. Retreats are about mixing it up, so listening to someone other than the pastor talk (not that they aren’t doing an excellent job) can really make an impact on members. However, when planning for a speaker at a retreat, planners must essentially count them as another attendee. The speaker will need travel, lodging and food. It is important to take care of them so that they can perform their best.
Here are a couple tips for keeping your speaker happy and making the most of their time.
1.) Make your speaker fit your goals. If the topic is serious, find a speaker who will present it in that way. The last thing you need is someone making a comedy show of a sad topic. If you are hosting a youth event, it would be good to have a youth minister speak.
2.) Include all details in the invitation. Don’t let a speaker be blind-sided by multiple speaking sessions or a youth audience for an adult speech. Invitations should include:
• Event dates
• Name of the group hosting
• Brief description, including goals and theme (if applicable)
• Number of talks and time allotted for each
• Details for guests attending i.e. age or gender
• Both expected and guaranteed attendance
• Travel, housing, and meal arrangements
• A/V equipment available
• Set up of the room. Is there a stage? Is it a large auditorium where microphones are necessary or a small intimate space where they aren’t?
• Any additional requests or responsibilities
• Name and phone of contact person
3.) Make them comfortable. This is important during travel and the event. If you are planning their travel, such as a flight, don’t make them fly at 2 a.m. to speak when they arrive at 8 a.m. As for housing, a speaker should be just as comfortable as you and your guests. They will probably want private lodging so that they can prepare. Making sure they get a comfortable night’s sleep ensures a successful presentation.
4.) Protect them. Opening up the floor to criticism of the speaker’s work does nothing to boost your event. If you fit the speaker to your goals, there is no reason for a criticism session. Also, refrain from pranking your speaker. They are there to do their job and give a message to your group, not get doused in honey and feathers.
5.) Pay appropriately and on time. Remember that this is the speaker’s job. Payment is something that must be discussed upfront. If you budget carefully, you can give the speaker an offer. If you are unsure, ask them what their rates are. Make sure they don’t leave the event without it.
6.) Share the message. Speakers can be expensive. Instead of bringing one in to talk to 15 people, invite other groups or friends and families. Pooling resources can help make the sticker price for a speaker a little less scary. Plus, more people are getting to hear the message.