How to Organize a Peaceful Tomorrows Speaking Event in your Community

Hosting a Peaceful Tomorrows speaker is a great way to educate and to activate members of your community. In the past, members of Peaceful Tomorrows have appeared as keynote speakers, as members of panels, as informal speakers in classrooms, as guest speakers at religious services, and as participants in rallies and marches.

The program for a speaking event generally includes a talk followed by a question and answer session. Some speakers may also wish to be involved in local radio or television shows, rallies, discussion groups, or meetings with local political representatives. Many local hosts give a reception for the speaker before or after the event, as a way of creating bonds with local organizers. We will work with you to make sure that the event best meets the needs of your group.

For each speaking event, we ask event organizers to do the following:

  • Provide venue arrangements (suitable location and equipment for the event).
  • Provide hospitality for our speaker, including food, lodging (a home stay is usually OK) and transportation to and from the airport or other events.
  • Publicize events to the local media and within your community. Peaceful Tomorrows can provide assistance with this.
  • Provide for travel expenses and honorarium for the speaker. We understand that some groups can provide more support than others. Our experience shows that seeking co-sponsors (other groups, other events) helps to share the costs and responsibilities of an event. As we do not want cost to be a deciding factor in bringing such an important event to your community, we will work with you on ideas and alternative resources.

Steps to a Good Event

The Preliminaries

Things to do and think about before starting to organize for a speaking event:

A. Select a THEME OR “TITLE” for your event. You may want a speaker to take part in a regularly-scheduled event—a monthly forum, or a yearly rally—which already has a suitable theme. Or you may want to build an event around a visit from Peaceful Tomorrows. Events might be centered around a holiday (Martin Luther King Day, etc.) or other commemoration (International Human Rights Day, etc.). You may want to “think outside the box” and initiate an event in conjunction with groups that don’t necessarily share your views—as long as they are sincere in their commitment to positive dialogue and consciousness-raising.

Think about which Peaceful Tomorrows speaker you might want to invite some might have a pre-existing link to your area or your group (we will send a biography of potential speakers). Or you may have no preference, only that they are available on a particular day. All of our speakers require a speaker’s fee, which is equal to the cost of travel plus honorarium the fee is always negotiable.

B. How will you conduct OUTREACH? Think about who you want to attend the event (audience) and how you will be able to get them there. Flyers, events calendars, direct mail, email, phone calling, public service announcements, a press release and word of mouth are all good ways to get people to the event.

C. Think about which other groups (student, community, religious etc.) who may be willing to co-sponsor the event with you. Keep in mind that co-sponsors are a key component to generating audience. The most important thing a co-sponsor can do is to help with outreach. They can do this by inviting their own members using the methods described in part B (above).

You have thought about the preliminaries and now want to start planning for an event:

1. Select a date. You may already have one in mind. Or you may coordinate this with the Peaceful Tomorrows Speakers Bureau depending on a speaker’s availability.

2. Find a venue – Preferably one you do not have to pay for. Try to get a donated space. This can be a church, a space in a community center or a university or college hall or auditorium. Ask others in your group for suggestions. Call around to find out who may have a space that you may use – a space big enough to seat 50 people or more depending upon your estimate of potential audience size.

3. Find your co-sponsors. Call, email or go visit the organizations or groups you think would be interested in being a part of this event. Explain to them that you are bringing a speaker for an event and you would like them to be a co-sponsor. They will ask what you would like them to do. Suggest they help with outreach by inviting their members through direct mail, phone calls and their constituent email lists. They may also be able to advertise the event on their website, and agree to lend their name to a press release, among other things.

Some co-sponsors will also be amenable to sharing the cost of the speaker’s fee. Explain to them that bringing the speaker requires money for travel and honorarium. It’s not too much to ask an organization to help share the cost of the speaker’s fee, especially if the organization’s name will be associated with the event as a “co-sponsor”. Offer that in return, their group’s name will be associated with the event and will be printed on any publicity material you develop and use. Do not be shy in asking them for financial support based upon their capability- use your good judgement about how much to ask for. They will most likely say yes!

4. Finalize the contract with us. As the designated host, you will enter a contractual agreement with the Peaceful Tomorrows Speakers Bureau that agrees to time, place, transportation, food and lodging for the speaker, and finally the speaker’s fee, which will be negotiated between us and agreed upon before final plans are made.

If obtaining funding is more difficult for your group, brainstorm about how you can raise the money needed for the speakers fee. Approaching and asking the co-sponsors is probably the easiest way, although you may want to have a fundraiser or ask people in your organization to help pay the cost.

5. Develop outreach materials and conduct outreach. The Speakers Bureau will provide you with a packet of publicity materials, which will include: a biography of the speaker, a press release, a digital photo of the speaker and written materials by the speaker if they exist. If you are at a university or college, you will be responsible for sending out the press release to your campus media. You should also contact your local media; Peaceful Tomorrows can help you with this. We can provide you with local media contacts if we have them. We will provide you with these materials and can assist with this if necessary.

Flyers should be made and distributed as widely as possible – pass them along to your friends and colleagues in order to disseminate them to local coffee shops, local churches and community groups, other campus departments and groups, other co-hosting organizations or groups—anywhere and everywhere you can think of.

6. Prepare for hosting and the event day. Decide who will pick the speaker up from the airport/bus station etc. Arrival and departure times for the speaker will be coordinated with the Speakers Bureau beforehand. Decide where the host will stay. Home stays are fine but it is preferable that the speaker has a private room if staying at someone’s home. If you have arranged for a hotel room, make sure everything is in order. Also, you will have received Peaceful Tomorrows materials sent to you by the Speakers Bureau, which include our newsletters, brochures, and information. Make sure you have those in order to be set up at a table at the event. Also, if possible, have you arranged any media interviews?

7. Wrap up and Payment. After the event, call or email us to talk about how it went. Was the event successful? Were there things that could have been done differently or better? We encourage you to also fill out the formal evaluation sheet that we will have given you. Feedback is important for all of us. Payment of the speaker’s fee is due as soon as possible after the event.

Extra Opportunities for the Speaker

Extra Opportunities include:

  • Interviews with local radio and television stations.
  • Interviews with local newspapers or magazines.
  • Meetings with local political representatives (the speaker would need a member of your community to accompany him/her).
  • Other venues in nearby towns.

We are open to your ideas and suggestions.

We hope this guide to organizing a speaking event is helpful. Please contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to working with you!

Filed in: Speaker's Bureau

Peaceful Tomorrows receives no money from 9/11 charities or disbursements. We depend entirely on individual and foundation grants to continue our work. More...

Editorial Policy: This website contains information related to the mission and goals of Peaceful Tomorrows and is intended for educational, non-commercial use. We highlight the projects undertaken by our organization, print essays and speeches made by 9/11 family members of our group, and post photo galleries which reflect the activities of our members around the world.

September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is a project of Tides Center.

 
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