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3 Easy Ways to Honor Your Speaker

3 Easy Ways to Honor Your Speaker

The speakers at WomenSpeakers.com are simply amazing women! They are gregarious, well-studied and tenacious, to name just a few of their traits.

My friend and public speaker/comedian, Carole Leathem, is a great example. One fall she said, "I nearly had to cancel a retreat this fall. I fell and broke both of my elbows!"

I asked, "You didn't cancel any of your retreats?"

She said, "Nope! I brought along an assistant and did them all!"

Her situation may seem extreme, but I know of speakers who have taken the podium in the middle of horrific physical, emotional, and familial pain.

When you bring in a speaker, she gives you her best and deserves your best effort at making her feel valued. It's not just the time she's with you to consider; she's also given up the travel time, family time in preparation, the potential of other opportunities (I've missed weddings, parties, etc.) plus her countless hours of preparation time--just to be with you and your women.

1. Assign Her a Speaker Shepherd

The speaker shepherd should call the speaker 7-10 days ahead of the event, introduce herself and confirm that everything is arranged, providing details.

A Speaker Shepherd is a gift. I was speaking at a large facility recently and needed a Kleenex. It was a simple thing, but I didn't know my way around, didn't see anyone in charge, and found the lines at the bathrooms too long for my time constraints. I ended up using a piece of notebook paper - which was fine, but you get the point. A shepherd simply helps in whatever way is needed. She introduces the speaker to the event coordinators, sound people, and others; she sees that there is water at the podium, and in similar ways cares for the speaker so the speaker can focus on the needs of the women.

Encourage the shepherd to use balance: She shouldn't "hound" the speaker, but rather make herself available via a cell phone number and frequent check-ins - especially between closely-scheduled sessions. Ask about her food needs: Many speakers prefer to speak on an empty stomach and may appreciate a light snack following a dinner presentation. Finally, do not disturb the speaker once she has gone to her room. By retiring, she has indicated that her needs have been met for the day.

2. Pay Your Speaker

Experts claim that the best presentations require 1 hour or preparation per minute of presentation. That statistic will only astound you if you have never been a speaker!

While few speakers expect to be paid an hourly wage for the preparation, travel and presentation minutes they invest into your program, it is important to consider what you are able to provide in way of financial help:

  • Be sure to cover her travel expenses. A speaking ministry should not drain her or her family's resources. This is a legitimate concern and can be avoided by paying your speakers well.
  • At minimum, cover any other expenses she may incur. In my earlier years of speaking, I often had to pay a babysitter for the hours I was gone from home, while being "paid" myself with a plant, a book or a thank you note. While appreciated, the payment didn't meet my needs. Let us be careful to cover the expenses our speakers incur on our behalf.
  • If at all possible, pay her a nice honorarium. By adding just $1-2 to the single-event per-person ticket price, or $3-5 to the per-person weekend-event price, you can provide a nice fee for your speaker without anyone feeling stretched.
  • Also, pay her promptly. You may either give her a thank you note, containing a check, at the event, or mail it to her within 10 days. Be sure to let her know when she will receive payment.

One final note, if the speaker is a member or regular attender of your own church/group, her services may be available to you as part of her ministry to your church/group. In these cases, you would not need to remunerate her with a financial gift, but a small gift and thank you note are still appreciated. 

However, if the speaker is from outside of your fellowship, she needs to be paid for her service to the Lord and to you.

3. Follow Up Afterwards

Your speaker will prepare, pray and participate fully in your event. When everything goes silent afterward, she can fall prey to disheartening thoughts.

  • Within 10-14 days of the event, send the speaker a thank you note. If you haven't paid her yet, include a check.
  • Include a paragraph of recommendation. Every bureau requires these letters in order for speakers to be considered. An honest and sincere recommendation from you is so helpful to her.
  • And, if you collected feedback forms at your event, be sure to forward to the speaker the quotations, good or bad, that related to her ministry. She will appreciate it, but even more importantly, it will help her be a better speaker in the future.

I've worked with speakers for over 20 years and they all want to be the best they can be, for the glory of God. 

Honoring your speaker can be fun and rewarding. She is just a normal person, with average needs, and she desires to know that she has been appreciated. Honor her with a speaker shepherd, a reasonable honorarium, and a thank you note including specifics. 

Marnie Swedberg, Webhostess

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