Guest Speaker


Host a speaker – could be a D&I professional, a business leader, an academic, or anyone with a compelling story


  • Reach a large audience
  • Push people’s thinking about diversity and inclusion
  • Provide visibility to initiative

Theory of Change

Listening to a speaker has a very low barrier to entry and requires little energy for participants to show up. This allows you to get a broader range of people willing to show up (if you do recruitment right), and get them thinking more about D&I.


Costs and food

  • Speaker fees 
  • Food (optional) – nice to have appetizers and drinks after the speaker to continue the conversation
  • Target / likely audience

    Dependent on speaker

    Location / Participation Size

    The room capacity necessary depends on how popular the speaker is going to be and the crowd that your PR efforts can draw

    A/V Needs

    Projector and audio equipment

    Other resources needed

    • Ask the speaker if they have any materials that they would want to hand out, either promotional or educational
    • Handouts (flyers, postcards) that explain initiative basics (i.e. mission statement), how to join, event calendar (or next event), a quote about the initiative’s importance
    • Allyship group membership and email subscription forms
    • Gift for the speaker

    Roles and responsibilities

  • Program lead – Plan way ahead. Ability to pay attention to many small details. Ensure logistics for the speaker are covered. Create gift bags.
  • Speaker contact person  If you have a popular speaker (especially one who is on the road a lot), have someone designated as their handler. The contact person meets and brings them to where they need to be. Ensure that speakers have water and A/V needs met. The contact person should have the speakers' cell phone number or preferred communication method for last minute logistics.
  • A/V lead – Someone who knows how to check and fix any A/V issues.
  • Food logistics – Order food, ensure proper tableware (plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc), ensure food delivery arrives to right location on time.
  • Photography, social media, and documentation – Take pictures during event. Have folks write down something they learned on a piece of white paper, take a photo of them, and upload to community social media. Document learnings to be shared out to larger audience.
  • Agenda / Program

  • Introduce speaker, their virtues, and why the club wanted them to come
  • Speaker speaks
  • Q&A with audience
  • Reception with food
  • Tips and pitfalls

  • Make sure to give yourself a lot of lead time to find a great speaker! Even local professionals are often booked a few months in advance!
  • Timeline

    3-12 months prior

    • Reach out to speaker. Popular speakers book up almost a year in advance. 
    • There are plenty of other great speakers who you can get to come given a few months notice
    • Get room reservation and confirm A/V setup and needs

    1-2 months prior

    • Begin marketing the event
    • Open RSVPs

    1 week prior

    • Make sure somebody is on top of ordering food and food setup logistics

    1 day prior

    • Finalize RSVPs
    • Remind RSVPs about date/time/location
    • Finalize food order, make sure plates, cups and utensils are ready
    • Make sure any Audio/Visual is ready

    Event day prep time:

    • Bring all handouts
    • Arrive to location early enough to do setup
    • Handful of volunteers to make sure food and drink is happening and that there are enough people knowledgeable about the initiative at the event, that people are engaged not just with small talk but also what the initiative is and why it matters
    • Make sure the person in charge of food knows how to collect the delivery and set everything up and that they have all the eating materials required
    • Test A/V equipment

    1 day after

    • Thank participants for coming and send unanswered questions and topics
    • Thank speaker with personalized thank you notes

    1 week after

    • Email links related to unanswered questions and topics


    Subject: [Some provocative question related to the speaker/topic]

    Join renowned speaker, [speaker name], for a talk on [subject][more here related to the interest in this topic and speaker].

    [day] [date] 

    Please RSVP here: [Link]

    Come for this enlightening talk and stay afterwards for a reception with wine and snacks.