I was very honored to have many of my friends who are PR professors compliment me on the great range and talent of guest speakers I have had come to my class. I have been very fortunate and appreciative of the professionals who have taken time out of their busy schedule to come and speak to my classes over the years. Each professional has been super amazing and made such a strong connection with each of the students, which is one of the things I have tried to do as a professor.
However, there’s been one question I’ve been asked – both as a professor and someone that has given many virtual guest talks via Google+ or Skype over the years: Do you pay your guest speakers?
The answer is no – I have never asked for payment at all and the speakers I have brought in have not asked for payment. The great professionals I have invited in my class have not only accepted, but were super excited to share their ideas, stories, and insights with the class.
However, when we are looking at payment – what does this mean? Ability to connect with students for possible internship opportunities? Networking and possible brainstorming sessions on campaigns? These are all possibilities of course.
With this in mind, what are some best practices for bringing forth guest speakers to your classes? Here are some tips that I have noticed that have worked for me over the years:
- Showcase the guests both online and offline: I have tried to do this throughout (especially in my social media classes) and acknowledge their invitations to my class both in person as well as online. All of my guest speakers have Twitter handles and are FB/Instagram connections, so I make sure to take pictures/videos to show their presence in the class.
- Encourage the students to engage with the guest speakers online: This has been super successful with the students in my classes. I have made sure to provide the Twitter username ahead of time for them to follow and reach out to before the talk (and even live tweet during class).
- Plan ahead and make sure that they are as comfortable as possible: Arranging visitor’s parking passes (it seems parking issues are always universal across platforms!), bringing in water (that’s one reason why I have a personal fridge in my UofL office is to do this), and schedule emails with directions and numbers/contact information in case something happens. Always being able to go to Plan B, C, or even D to make sure everything is in order is key.
- Even if they don’t ask for payment, make sure to provide a nice gift: For every guest speaker, I make sure to 1) write a handwritten and personalized note for them and 2) provide them with a gift card for them to use either at Starbucks or iTunes (rationale: we all need apps and coffee!). I do this myself – because I want to make sure that the guest speakers know how appreciative I am that they are able to take the time to speak to my classes and students.
- Thank the guest speakers online: Encourage your students to also do this virtually as well. Write up a blog post about their talk with mentions of their company and brand and have your students do the same. I have an extra credit policy for my students when it comes to writing a blog post on a guest speaker, so this is another option to consider as well. But, most importantly – you as a professor have to set the standard and lead by example with this for your students.
Personally, each of the professors that has given me the opportunity to speak to their classes has been both appreciative and grateful. It is a lot of fun for me to be able to chat and talk to students – both undergraduate and graduate – about various topics and ideas related to the field. Most of my presentations have surrounded of course social media with several focusing on blogging, crisis communications, visual storytelling, and of course Google Glass.
I have to thank all of the great guest speakers I have had over the years at UofL for taking the time to speak to my class and share their expertise and insights. Below is a video slideshow showcasing all of the great speakers from last year. Already this year, we’ve had some amazing guests come in to my #Freberg14 class (Jeff Rushton, Nick Stover, Robert Young, Rich Miller, Joey Wagner, and Sheryl Boddie). We are going to have several more throughout the semester, which I am very excited about!
So, special thank you to the professionals and friends who have spoken to my classes over the years. You all are amazing and can’t thank you enough for taking the time to come to my classes. Very grateful and appreciative.
Hope you all are having a great day!