Speakers Bureau Introduction
What is the Speakers Bureau?
The Bureau is made up of Secular Movement personalities who have graciously offered to speak, debate, or perform with discounted or waived honorariums for affiliates of the Secular Student Alliance.
The Bureau is reserved only to current SSA affiliates and we will do our best to get you a speaker to meet your needs. We offer funding and many of our speakers are very negotiable on their honorarium (if they charge one at all).
How do I get a speaker at my campus?
Below you will find a short, but in-depth walkthrough of the process. You can click on each numbered step to display more information. Email us if you need help or feel overwhelmed at any point in the process. We are here to help as much as possible. By following these steps, you can feel confident that you will have a successful event.
Do you want to be guided through the process of choosing a speaker? Check out this handy guide.
Click the headings below to expand for more information.
1. Choose a speaker who meets your group’s needs.
- Are you looking for a specific topic? If so, then we have speakers sorted by topic.
- You can also check out our Speakers Bureau Organizations page for speakers from Freethought organizations such as FFRF, AU, SCA, and SSA.
- Are you looking for a specific speaker? If so, then check out our speaker listing by name.
- Are you looking for a speaker geographically near your campus? If so, then you have several choices:
-You can see the Bureau sorted by state or see speaker locations on a map.
-You can also check out our regional Speakers Bureaus if your group is in one of the current staffed regions.
2. Request a Speaker.
- There's a form for that! Go here to fill it out and submit.
3. Work with a Campus Organizer.
- An Organizer will follow up with you and answer any questions or concerns you might have expressed in the form.
- You will be asked for what date you are interested in (if you had not included one on the request form). A specific date or a specific time period is needed so we can check with the speaker on their availability.
- Once we hear from the speaker, we will let you know if that date works and what the speaker's availability is if not.
4. Make an Agreement with the Speaker.
- An Organizer will get you in contact with the speaker via email so you can work out details.
- When exchanging email with the Organizer or with the speaker, please always use "reply all" so that everyone involved can see your responses and act accordingly.
5. Work Out Event Details.
- Figure out what topic you would like if you have not already done so. Speakers need this information so that they can have their talk prepared. Your options will be on their Speakers Bureau profile.
- Figure out travel details. Is the speaker flying or driving to your campus? You group is responsible for travel costs, be sure to find out exactly what the speaker needs covered. You may have to get flight tickets for them according to their needs. If driving, ask them the best way to reimburse their gas and/or rental car costs. Remember that we are here to help you out. If you need help at this stage, please ask and we will be glad to help out. And remember that SSA can help with travel costs if your school does not provide funding.
- You will also need to get lodging figured out. Is the speaker willing to stay at a private house/apartment? If so, please make sure they are not allergic to anything, like dogs or cats. If you need to get them a hotel/motel room, look at the costs for options near your campus. Please do not pick someplace that is sketchy; it does not have to be ritzy but it must be at least decent accommodations.
- As soon as you know the date and time for your event, reserve space on campus. Consider a location that is easy to find, and isn't too large. If you end up with a room that has more seats than you need, as people to sit in the first few rows.
6. Request Funding Assistance.
- Always check with your school; most offer some kind of funding for student group events on campus. We encourage affiliates to always pursue this option.
- Are there other SSA affiliates nearby? If so, think about reaching out to them and making this a joint event.
- Are there other student groups interested in similar topics on campus? Is so, reach out and ask if they would like to co-sponsor.
- If there are any off-campus groups nearby, they are also a resource. Many off-campus groups enjoy supporting student activities in their area.
- Finally, do not forget that you can apply for SSA Speakers Bureau funding. We will help you out in most cases with travel and lodging costs (we do not cover honorariums).
- For more information on funding and raising money, click here.
7. Promote! Promotion is key to having a successful event.
- Do you know your options of on-campus advertising? Most campuses allow flyering and chalking, at least. Many campuses also offer student groups space in the campus newspaper, in campus emails, or some even offer ad space inside campus buses. Check our Group Promotion and Media Relations resource to be sure you're not missing out on promotion opportunities.
- Do you need some inspiration on designing a flyer? Check out our Design Exchange to see successful flyer designs from other SSA affiliates.
- Social media is a great way to bring this event to the attention of your group's members, but is often not very successful in reaching out to the wider campus or community. Be sure to seek out ways to advertise to your campus offline as well.
- Have you thought about reaching out to other student groups on campus that might hold interest in your event? If your event relates to LGBT rights, think about inviting the Gay Straight Alliance to your event; or if your event relates to cosmology, think about inviting the astronomy club. Reach out to departments to advertise and seek funding as well - many departments will have money in their budget available to student-led events.
- If you have any local off-campus groups in the area, you should always try reaching out to them. Many off-campus groups enjoy participating in large student group events and some also like supporting student groups in several ways. In addition, think about reaching out to other nearby SSA affiliates - this is a great way to build relations and to hold joint events on your campuses.
- If you would like help building a press release about your event, please reach out to us for assistance!
8. Go back through the steps and be sure you didn't miss anything.
- You can also view the more detailed Speakers Bureau Checklist.
- Check out this article on how to have a happy speaker to see how this works from the speaker's perspective.
- If you have followed this guide closely, your event should be successful. Remember that advertising heavily is one of the most important parts to make an event successful.
9. Have an awesome event!
- If you got SSA funding, you will need to ask for reimbursement and fill out a feedback form on how awesome your event was.
- If you did not get funding, we still want to hear from you! Please tell us about your event and send any pictures you might have.
- Submit a Brag it Up! form to get free swag for your group.
Choose a Speaker
Speaker Request Form
Speaker Event Checklist
Links and Resources
|Ways to Find a Great Speaker|
Planning a Speakers Bureau Event
Funding Ideas and Opportunities
Other Ways to Host a Speaker
Are you a member of the SSA Speakers Bureau?