Speakers Bureau Introduction
So 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 reimbursement 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 simple walkthrough of the process. We have made it as simple as possible for you, and you can always email us if you need help or feel overwhelmed at any point in the process. We are here to help as much as possible.
1. Choose a speaker that meets your group's needs.
Do you want to be guided through the process of choosing a speaker? Check out this handy guide.
- 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 regions.
- Do you have other needs that are not covered here? If so, put in a speaker request form and let us know!
2. Put in a speaker request form for your chosen speaker(s) or topic(s).
3. You will be contacted by a SSA Campus Organizer promptly after your request is submitted.
- Our Organzier will follow up with you and answer any questions or concerns you might have had.
- 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. The next step will involve the Campus Organizer getting you in contact with the speaker if the date is agreed upon.
- 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. Now that you are in contact with the speaker to plan the event, there are several things that you need to do.
- Figure out what topic you would like if you have not already done so. Speakers need this information so that they can begin planning their talk.
- Figure out travel details. Is the speaker flying or driving to your campus? If they are flying, your group is responsible for all travel costs. You will have to get 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.
- 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, now would also be the time to look at those costs. Please do not pick someplace that is sketchy; it does not have to be ritzy but it must be at least decent accomodations.
7. This cannot be stressed enough, promote your event on and off campus! Promotion is key to having a successful event and can bring a ton of attention and new members to your group.
- 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.
- 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 GSA 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.
6. If you need funding assistance, now is the time to apply for it (if you have not already done so).
- 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 affilaites 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. If not already done, you should now reserve the required space on campus for the event.
8. By this step, travel and lodging should be done and/or paid for. It is time to start thinking about advertizing the event on, and possibly off, campus. Check out this article on how to have a happy speaker to see how this works from the speaker's perspective.
- Remember that your group is liable for all costs. Your group needs to buy the flight tickets and get lodging taken care of. The speaker should never have to pay anything out of pocket.
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.
Speakers Bureau Resources
Ways to Find a Great Speaker
- Full Speakers Bureau listing organized by name
- Regional and local Speakers Bureaus
- Speakers by Organization (such as SSA, FFRF, AU, and more!)
- Speakers by Topic
- Speakers Listed by State
- Speakers Bureau Map
Funding Ideas and Opportunities
- What Kind of Funding Do You Need? Use This Tool to Figure It Out!
- Apply for Speakers Bureau Funding
- Apply for Large Event, and Multiple Speakers, Funding
- Fundraising Ideas and Options
- Setting Up a Bank Account
Planning a Speakers Bureau Event
- Speakers Bureau FAQ
- How to Have a Happy Speaker
- Sample Debate Format
- Speaker Event Checklist
- Promotion Plan Guide and Schedule
- Speaker Bureau Members' Books
- Speaker Event Recording Waiver
- Promoting Your Group and Events
Other Ways to Host a Speaker
Are you a speaker listed on the SSA Speakers Bureau?
Click here for some resources that you might find useful!