Recently, a member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked for ideas on where to find free speakers:
What types of seminars do you have for your members? Which are considered the most beneficial?
This question then morphed into: where can you find informative (and free) speakers?. Both are important questions considering lunch and learns and other learning sessions are effective ways to provide members with training they need but don’t have the time or money to pay for on their own.
Where Can You Find Cheap or Free Speakers?
Members are always a great source as long as you tell them no direct plugs for their business in what they are teaching. Make sure they understand it’s not a sales session but a learning one.
Nonprofits often will come to speak for free. Some areas of a nonprofit’s mission may be very educational to your membership such as someone affiliated with trying to end cyberbullying. They will be knowledgeable about the law and can convert their knowledge into a meaningful message to businesses.
Local colleges and small business centers may have someone who can speak for little to no money.
Don’t forget your vendors. Some of your vendors, just like your members, are very knowledgeable and may be willing to speak for free. Just make sure they understand “no sales pitch.”
If you know someone in your community who has special knowledge or a talent, don’t hesitate to approach them and ask if they would be willing to share their knowledge on a particular topic. However, if their job is professional speaker and that’s all they do, asking them to do what they do for free isn’t fair. Give them the professional courtesy and pay them for their services. Maybe they’ll be willing to negotiate a lower rate.
Finally, local authors are always looking for places to talk about their books. They can talk about the publishing process (you may be surprised how many members may be considering writing a book) and they can also talk about hiring a writer or a freelancer content writer. Lots of people are interested in how to get more content. Hiring a writer is one way.
One final word about education sessions. The content you are providing is valuable. Don’t offer a session without capturing the information and using it in a variety of ways including:
- asking the speaker if you can share his/her slide deck
- sharing quotes on social media from the session
- creating image quotes and sharing them
- recording the session and turning it into a podcast
- live tweeting the session
- take pictures of the speaker and audience and sharing them
- filming the session and making it available to people who couldn’t be there (when you have a collection of resources like this they can be valuable enough to sell a virtual ticket to the video content library)
- sharing the transcript
Here’s our extensive (new) article with a complete strategy to find a speaker for an event – especially when you have a small budget.