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Tool 1: Roster Form

Name Phone # Availability Area of expertise / experience Dates done / Upcoming Dates

Tool 2: Tips for Speakers

  • Know where and when you are supposed to speak. Call ahead for directions if necessary.
  • Be there 10 or 15 minutes ahead of time. Introduce yourself to the person in charge and identify yourself as a member of the speakers bureau.
  • Begin and end on time. Wait no longer than five minutes or so for latecomers, because the longer you wait to start, the more you'll risk annoying those who made an effort to be there on time. By the same token, don't keep people there longer than they were planning to be. If there is a really great dialogue going on and the panelists are willing to stay longer, you may choose to take a break and continue after a few minutes for anyone who is interested in staying later, but by all means give everyone a chance to leave at the predetermined time.
  • If you have several speakers doing a panel discussion, it's probably a good idea to have one panel member be in charge of making introductions and occasionally facilitating the discussion. The facilitator can be the one who gives out some basic information about your organization's mission, structure, and any services you provide at the beginning of the presentation. Then the facilitator can introduce panelists and direct the question-and-answer session.
  • It's okay to disagree with other panelists on matters of opinion, but do so respectfully and calmly. Don't get sidetracked into a big philosophical discussion or political argument your audience will leave confused, bored, angry, or some combination of the three.
  • Avoid arguing with audience members as well, for the same reasons. If an audience member makes a derogatory or ignorant statement or question, try to use this as an opportunity to teach and share information rather than a personal challenge. For example, if an audience member has said something insulting or inflammatory, you might counter with, I can understand how you might think that, but actually, rather than getting defensive or angry.
  • Use language appropriate for your audience. For younger or less educated audiences, make sure you avoid using jargon and complicated terminology, but for more educated or older audiences, you can probably use more of this type of language.
  • As much as possible, use analogies, stories, and humor. This helps you connect with the audience and brings the information you're giving them to life. Create pictures with your words.
  • Speak clearly and simply. If you must use complicated language (for example, medical terminology), be sure to keep it to a minimum and explain any words that a layperson might not understand.
  • Pay attention to how the audience is responding. If people become bored, you need to do something to regain their attention. If a lot of people are looking at the ceiling, squirming uncomfortably or most horrifying of all nodding off, it's time to change the subject, let another speaker have a turn, or open the floor for questions. 

Tool 3: Speakers Bureau Evaluation Form

Have the audiences at your speakers bureau presentations complete this form; use their feedback to help you improve your presentations, pinpoint topics that you might want to include in the future, and acknowledge the things that are done well.

Speakers Bureau Evaluation

How effective was the presentation?


Was the presentation well organized?


Was the length of the presentation adequate?


Was an adequate amount of time left for the question-and-answer period?


What did you learn from the speaker?


What would you have liked to have heard more information about?


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