Where do they find those Speakers?
If there’s one thing I can count on at a chapter meeting, its the snack table. No, wait, I meant I could count on an interesting speaker. I pretty much know how stuff ends up on the snack table, but where do those speakers come from? I talked with Sally Campbell, a member of the team that lines up these folks for us.
eNews: First, thanks for all the work you and your fellow committee members do to bring us these great speakers. But I have to ask, where do you find them? Hiding under rocks?
Sally Campbell: we convene a 4-6 person committee once a year to come up with a potential list of speakers for the following year - at that meeting, we consult our ongoing list of potential speakers (a very long list that gets new names added to each year via positive recommendations from committee and chapter members), we make suggestions for speakers on or off this list that one of us had heard speak or heard was good. We then put together our list for the next year, trying to aim for a diversity of topics (e.g., a chef, 1 or 2 veggie people, an ornamental person, an insect person, etc). We also aim for 3-4 speakers that can present research based info for recertification credit; these usually are from extension or universities.
eNews: How far ahead of time do you need to schedule them? Why?
SC: We meet in the summer each year and, after IDing potential speakers, we contact them and ask about their availability the following year so that works out to be 6 to 12 months ahead of when they speak. Our success rate with this much lead time is pretty high.
eNews: What do you do if a speaker cancels late in the game?
SC: This doesn’t happen often, but when it does we scramble to find a replacement. If the lead time is more than a couple months, we see if we can switch some of our speakers around. If short notice, we call on some of our own MGs and see if they can do a presentation. We would like to line up a few more of our MGs to have presentations in hand to give in the event of a cancellation. I can recall one speaker who just plain forgot about their presentation. Despite giving affirmative responses to all of our reminders (a month before, a week before, the day before) - that evening the speaker totally forgot about their presentation. Of course we didn't realize this until they were a "no-show"! One of our chapter members pulled a great substitute presentation out of their hat (and we sincerely thank you, Claudia!)
eNews: Can you recall a speaker that was particularly hard to schedule? What happened?
SC: This usually revolves around the person being hard to contact, I.e., not returning calls, texts, or emails!
eNews: Are you open to suggestions? What should MGs with ideas do?
SC: We are extremely open to suggestions! Anyone with a good speaker suggestion can talk to me or Marcia McIntyre or send us an email saying, e.g., “I just heard so and so talk at Mini College and they were great. I think they would be a great speaker for one of our Chapter meetings”
So there you have it. Future speakers are found at the snack table. Sally and Marcia just pick them off and line them up!