A survival guide to guest speakers

By: Scott Mullin

My favorite thing about PRSSA is the guest speakers, and we have had a nice variety of them since I joined. Throughout life you will experience many guest speakers, from work to other organizations. Seeing guest speakers can be intimidating at times, but for the most part, seeing them can be quite beneficial. Here are a few pointers in dealing with guest speakers.

1. Show up prepared and on time. There’s probably nothing worse than strolling into a room during a guest speaker’s presentation and loudly looking for paper. It looks bad on you and the host organization, so don’t do it.

2. Don’t be intimidated or nervous about seeing one. Odds are the speaker is nervous as well.

3. If you don’t know anything about the guest speaker, do a Google search so you can get a sense of what the speaker is all about.

4. Carry a pen and paper to record good tips. Our guest speakers share great advice.

5. Come prepared with questions. One good question could unleash a barrage of good knowledge which will only enhance everyone’s experience.

6. Give the speaker good eye contact and nod when they make a good point. This is the best form of hospitality an org can provide to any guest.

7. Dress business casual. I’m not saying wear a suit or the finest dress from Italy, I’m just saying don’t come in wearing a baseball cap, a ratty tee, and a pair of shorts.

8. Keep phones on silent. In fact, just keep them in your pocket. Reading this, many people will be thinking, “Does this really need to be said?” My answer is yes, you’ll be surprised. We’ve had phones go off and guests throw some dirty looks.

9. Don’t be afraid to say hello and thank the speaker after their presentation. It’s a great way to network and perhaps gain more knowledge. Bonus tip, take something they said during the presentation and relate it back to them, it will be appreciated.Feel free to ask questions if there’s content you don’t understand. It’s how you’ll get the most out of the experience, plus it shows the speaker that you actually care about what they have to say.

With that being said, you’ll learn that PRSSA strives to bring to you some of the finest guest speakers it can find. We want to strive to have members learn as much as they can about the field before we send them off into the real world, so please be sure to check our website for information about upcoming guest speakers and use these tips.

Scott Mullin is the Vice President of Communications for EMU PRSSA.

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