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Union University Center for Faculty Development
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Teaching & Advising > Classroom Management

Planning for Guest Speakers

  • Clearly identify your objectives in inviting the guest speaker, e.g., addressing an important issue in which your knowledge base or the textbook is relatively weak.

  • Clear the guest speaker with your immediate instructional leader to ensure there is no reason why he or she should not be invited to speak.

  • Obtain a resume or biographical sketch in advance to prepare an appropriate and enthusiastic introduction which energizes the speaker.

  • Clarify explicitly with the speaker, well in advance, exactly what you would like addressed in the presentation and your time parameters.

  • Clarify the speaker's posture on accepting student questions, including any areas that are "out of bounds"--the last thing you want is for the speaker to be embarrassed.

  • Confirm by telephone the guest speaker's presentation several days in advance.

  • Develop a contingency plan in case the guest speaker is a "no show"--meetings get called at the last minute, traffic accidents occur, etc.

  • Play an active nonverbal role during the presentation, maintaining consistent eye contact with the speaker and encouraging students to do the same.

  • Prompt appropriate questions when appropriate, adhering to his or her imposed limitations.

  • If the speaker exceeds the time parameters markedly, simply stand and move from your seat in the rear to the side of the classroom.

  • At the conclusion of the presentation, thank the speaker for specific content items and insights that were provided.

  • Provide the students a short break during which you walk the speaker to an appropriate location for a more personal thanks, and clarify who should receive a copy of a thank you letter.

  • Discuss the presentation with students to positively reinforce instructional objectives.

  • Deal positively with any student criticism of speaker.

  • Mail the guest speaker a professional letter of thanks promptly, with a photocopy to his or her designees (usually work supervisors).

Source:  Lyons, Kysilka, Pawlas, The Adjunct Professor's Guide to Success, Allyn & Bacon, Needham Heights, MA, 1999.

"Only the devil has an answer for our moral difficulties, and he says: 'Keep on posing problems, and you will escape the necessity of obedience.' But Jesus is not interested in the young man's problems; he is interested in the young man himself."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer; The Cost of Discipleship