Guest speaker events are an extremely popular way to develop support for UN-related issues on your campus; from entire panels of experts focused on debating specific topics to individual speakers explaining the impact of their work, these events provide a highly informative and personal way for students to better understand the goals and efforts of the UN. Universities are full of professors who love speaking on UN-related issues, and it is a fantastic way to build a relationship with an academic department. Additionally, the UNA national office can help facilitate finding a guest speaker for campus chapters. Q&A sessions following such events give students a way to actively participate in the discussion.
As a special celebration of Earth Day, UNA-Georgetown hosted a General Assembly (their version of a discussion series) on the subject of climate change, inviting Sahar Wali, the Communications Director for Strategic Climate and Energy Initiatives at the UN Foundation, to be their guest speaker. Similarly, students from Carthage College reached out to Dory Gannes, of Girl Up, to speak at their UN Day event; the event received a high turnout of interested students. Having a speaker address the UN angle of a timely issue can draw many attendees and help students understand current events on a deeper level.
Do it Yourself:
- Contact a variety of possible speakers whose work relates to the issue you would like to publicize. Think specifically about current events the UN is relevant to.
- Confirm the availability of a speaker both willing and able to attend your scheduled event. Be specific about the date and time of the event, the topic, and format (lecture or panel discussion).
- Give the speaker a detailed description of what is expected of him or her, including the time, date, and location of your event, as well as your estimated attendance and your guest’s role at the event. Make sure to give your guest a cell phone number to call in case of last minute questions or emergencies.
- Consider recording the event and posting it online. Be sure to ask your guest speaker’s permission beforehand.
- When your speaker arrives, introduce yourself and your team members; be sure to help them navigate the event location, and quickly review your agenda with them before beginning.
- At the beginning of the event, introduce your guest speaker and state the purpose of the speaker’s visit.
- With 10-20 minutes left in the event, thank your guest and give the audience an opportunity to ask any questions they may have. (If no one has questions, be prepared to ask several yourselves.)
- Don’t forget to thank your guest speaker after the event!