Here are some tips for hosting a successful campus speaking event.  If you are interested in bringing an IWF speaker to your campus, email [email protected].

Selecting a venue:

  • Choose a building and room that are easily accessible on campus.  A central location with ample parking is ideal.

  • Don’t book a room that is too large.  Instead, select a room that holds 80% of your expected turnout.  This will ensure a crowed room.  When a room is too large, the crowd will look small, even if a lot of people are there.  You want a packed, excited atmosphere for your event.

Getting people to your event:

  • Publicize your event in every way you can (note: be sure to follow any rules that your campus might have).  A few options include:

    • Send an all-campus email announcing your event.

    • Post flyers around campus (on every bulletin board you can find!).

    • Hang large posters/banners in high traffic areas like the student union.

    • Invite leaders of other campus organizations and encourage them to announce the event to members of their group.

    • Invite campus administrators.

    • Use sidewalk chalk to advertise your event on campus walkways.

    • Have club members put the information about the event in their away messages and instant messenger profiles.

    • Invite prominent members of the community and local groups (such as political parties) to attend the event.

    • If the speech topic is relevant to a certain academic discipline, ask professors to announce the event to their classes.

At the event:

  • Play music before the event to get the crowd energized.

  • Have an information table and sign up sheet for your group.  Also have relevant handouts (on either the speaker’s organization and/or the speech topic) available for the audience.

  • If the speaker is an author, have his or her books on sale and have a book signing following the speech.

  • Have the president of your club welcome the crowd, then have someone else from the club introduce the speaker (this can serve as a great reward for active club members).

  • Take lots of pictures.

  • If possible, video tape the event.

  • Host a dinner with the speaker before the event.  Invite club officers as well as a few outstanding club members (again, this is an excellent reward for hard work).

  • After the speech, host a reception with the speaker and invite all of your clubs members, as well as local supporters to attend.  This will allow everyone to meet the speaker and feel involved in the event.

Getting press coverage:

  • Send out a press release to local and campus media before and after the event.  The first press release announces the event.  The second press release tells reporters how the event went.  Email is usually the preferred method for sending press releases. 

  • If possible, arrange for local reporters to interview the speaker in the afternoon leading up to the event.

Allison Kasic is director of the R. Gaull Silberman Center for Collegiate Studies at the Independent Women’s Forum.