Where/How to find speakers?
- Check with the university to learn if they have a speakers bureau.
- Contact local engineering firms; the Human Resources department and the Office of
Public Relations would have information about representatives that give public
presentations. Some organizations have outreach programs that supply speakers.
Also, the office manager should know who does what in the organization and may
have some ideas. A principal in the firm may be interested in presenting.
- Solicit your university faculty.
- Contact your local NSPE chapter or state society (contact volunteer leaders or office
staff, if applicable). Also, contact the local chapters of other engineering
associations like ASME, IEEE, and ASCE.
- Contact the local chapters of an engineering fraternity like Tau Beta Pi.
- Contact members of other professional societies.
- Peruse the engineering publications on a regular basis. Pay attention to
engineering-related articles in the newspapers. Contact the authors of articles.
Many times they are just regular, knowledgeable engineers who have written an
article or agreed to be interviewed and wouldn't charge a fee to speak to a group of
students. It doesn't hurt to ask!
- Is there an interesting/controversial engineering project going on in your city/town?
Contact the architect or the builder. They love to talk about their projects.
How far in advance of the meeting should I contact someone?
It usually depends on the popularity of the speaker. If it's an author of a popular book,
plan on lead time of about three months. If it's a local regular-type engineer, give them
the courtesy of at least a month.
What information, besides the topic, would a speaker need to know?
- Clarify, in the invitation, either written or verbally, whether the speaker will be
receiving a speaker's fee and/or expenses to present to your group. It's okay to tell
the speaker that your group is unable to compensate the speaker for his/her time
and/or expenses associated with their presentation. Just be sure that it is clear.
- The location of the meeting and directions (to the building and room if they are not
part of the university community).
- How many people are expected to attend.
- If audio/visual equipment will be available for a PowerPoint presentation, or a
microphone (for large rooms).
- If he/she should bring handouts, or if they can copy on-site.
- Where to park if the meeting is on campus.
- How long the meeting will last and what other activities may be a part of the meeting.
- Whether refreshments will be served or where to grab a bite to eat, if they are
coming after work.
- Do you want to include a Q & A period at the end of the presentation? Ask the
speaker is this is possible.
How do I create a good impression of my chapter (and me)?
- Follow the points above.
- Ask the speaker what they need to make them comfortable.
- Provide a small thank you gift, such as a university logo item (letter opener, t-shirt,
- Offer to meet and buy the speaker a quick dinner prior to the event (doesn't have to
be expensive, but would be nice if it's more than fast-food burger) if he/she is coming
straight from work.
- Offer to pay for any parking costs on/off campus directly relating to time with the
- Serve refreshments at your event, if possible.
- Be sure to introduce yourself, other chapter leaders, and as many of the chapter
members who are present as possible to the speaker—make him/her feel at ease.
- Have water available in case a speaker requests it.