5 Tips for How to Choose the Right Speaker for Your College Event

5 Tips for Finding the Right Speaker for Your Next College Campus Event

It’s not easy being a student activities board member. On the one hand, you’ve got all of the same things to juggle as every other student at your college: a full course load, a social life, and maybe even other clubs and activities. On the other, though, you’re responsible for planning a whole host of big events throughout the year.

Some of those events might fall on the same week as a huge exam. Or, you may find yourself scrambling to plan a campus concert during a week when you ought to be writing a term paper. No matter how well you plan, there’s no way around it: being in charge of dozens of events throughout the year -- which students on your campus expect to be entertaining, engaging, and exciting -- can be a lot of work. The student activities struggle is real.

Of course, creating great events is totally doable without driving yourself crazy with deadlines, details, and meeting after meeting. At ArtistHub, we’re here to help.

If you’re looking for inspiration for upcoming campus events, we wrote a recent blog post with some great ideas for campus activities.

On that list, you’ll notice a couple of entries related to guest speakers on campus. If you’re thinking about booking one or more guest speakers this year, then this blog post is for you.

How do you find the right speaker? Is it possible to please everyone on campus, or do you have to settle for “close enough?” What should you take into account as you’re trying to put together a big event?

We’ve penned (well, not literally) this blog post to answer just these sorts of questions. Keep reading to learn more.


Photo courtesy of speaker Shaun Booth - http://thebiographyseries.com

1. Consider the nature of the event 

What’s our first big tip when it comes to picking the right speaker? Consider the nature of the event you’re organizing.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to have a speaker -- or even multiple speakers -- at a themed event. Maybe you’re hosting a campus health fair, and you want to bring in a variety of guest lecturers who can speak to topics ranging from nutrition to birth control. Or, maybe you’re hosting an alcohol-free happy hour, and you need a guest speaker who can effectively communicate that it’s possible to have a good time without drinking.

Whatever the situation, don’t just throw a random speaker at an event at the last minute as a way to fill time. Be sure that whoever you book for an event can speak about the topic at hand.

2. Conduct a student poll

Of course, sometimes you’ll want to book a speaker and make them the entire event. In other words, you don’t need to take the bigger picture into account: you’re booking a guest lecturer who’s going to talk about a specific topic, and there’s no need to worry about whether it will be relevant to the theme of a bigger event.

Still, though, you don’t want to book a college speaker that no one wants to come and see. For that reason, it might be a good idea to conduct a student poll at the beginning of the semester.

You can do this a couple of ways. If you’ve already made contact with a wide range of speakers, you can poll students to find out which ones they’d be interested in seeing.

Or, you can make your polling topical. In other words, you could conduct a poll with different types and categories of speakers, and ask students to pick the top 3 that they’d be interested in hearing from.

3. Offer a variety of views

 With polling and student opinion in mind, it’s important to remember that you’ll want to offer a variety of views throughout the year. If you host a political speaker who’s on the left, you’ll probably also want to host one who’s on the right later on (or vice versa). Be sure that you don’t book speakers who only conform to your particular interests and opinions: the student body is diverse, and they’ll want to hear from a wide range of lecturers.

4. For commencement speeches, start way in advance

 At many schools, the process of selecting a commencement speaker starts much earlier than for practically any other event. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a school to open a dialogue with a potential commencement speaker (and lock them in, if possible) as early as the summer before graduation. That’s nearly a year ahead of time.

So, what does this mean for you? To put it simply: if the campus activities board is tasked with finding a commencement speaker, you’ll want to start the process way in advance. You’ll likely be working with someone higher up in the administration on this task, too -- maybe even the provost or the chancellor. Try to keep an open mind throughout the process, and remember that it’s practically impossible to be too prepared when organizing an event as big as graduation.

5. Use an online service like ArtistHub

All of this said, how do you actually find guest speakers in the first place?

One option is to Google individual speakers and attempt to contact their booking agent. This can be a real headache, though: you’ll be sending an awful lot of emails that won’t ever receive replies.

You could also go online and browse through booking agency websites that specialize in guest speakers. The downside here is that a lot of these websites aren’t the most user friendly, and the speaker fees associated with them can be pretty outrageous.

Instead of taking one of these traditional routes, why not try ArtistHub? Here at ArtistHub, we’ve made the process of finding and booking college speakers for your next event as easy as possible. Plus, we offer a roster of musicians, comedians, magicians, and all kinds of other entertainers that you can browse through from your phone or laptop. Click here to sign up for a free account today!