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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.

"Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment 'as to the Lord.' It is our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done and any grace received."
-C.S. Lewis; Learning in Wartime, The Weight of Glory