Although you don’t need a speaker for every meeting, guest speakers can be a great way to encourage attendance and provide your group members with valuable information.
Possibilities for speakers include:
- Physicians (urologists, urogynecologists, pain specialists)
- Nurses (nurse practitioners and urology nurses)
- Registered dietitians
- Alternative medicine pracitioners
- Health insurance professionals
- Social workers or family therapists
- Ministers, rabbis, or other spiritual educators
- Attorneys knowledgeable about disability cases
- Political representatives
Lining up guest speakers may sound like a daunting task, but it can be as easy as placing a phone call. Have a topic in mind before you call and be ready to explain what interstitial cystitis is if necessary. Some speakers may make a presentation at your meeting for free, but other speakers may request an honorarium. If you don’t have a budget for your meetings, consider approaching your local urologist to support the speaker’s fees and/or expenses. (See Establishing Relationships with Doctors and Clinics.)
An alternative to having a speaker come in person is to use some sort of electronic meeting format:
- Webinars use a computer program to connect multiple people to a presentation. Your group will be able to view the speaker’s slide presentation even if the speaker is hundreds of miles away.
- Teleconferences can be a great way to have a question and answer session with an IC expert. All you need is a phone with a speaker that is loud enough for a group to hear.
- Videoconferencing can be a great way to get a speaker to attend your meeting without the travel expenses. As long as you have internet access at your meeting site, you can download a program like Skype® (www.skype.com), hook a laptop up to a monitor or projector, and the attendees will be able to view the speaker almost as if s/he was actually there.
A Final Note About Guest Speakers
IC support group meetings should be unbiased educational forums, not sales pitches for unproven product claims, or product endorsements. You may want to avoid scheduling guest speakers for your meetings whose sole intent is to sell their product or service to your meeting participants. Likewise, you may want to discourage individual members of your group from selling their own products and/or services to your meeting participants. Remember to keep the focus of your group on proven information and support and not on the selling of untested products and/or services.
Support group leaders should consider sending a follow-up thank you note to speakers. This will not only show appreciation for their time, but can subtly encourage them to refer potential future speakers to the group. Every professional speaker has a big sphere of influence in their professional arena. Past speakers are great resources for finding future speakers.
Revised Monday, August 31st, 2015