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Hosting an NCTE Cosponsored Speaker

 

Please use the following guidelines when you host an NCTE Cosponsored Speaker. You should also find the guidelines useful for hosting other conference speakers as well.

As soon as you hear from NCTE headquarters that the speaker has accepted your invitation, you should write to reassure the speaker that he or she is expected and welcome.  Be sure to include the information listed in the 2nd and 3rd bulleted items below.

Contacting the Cosponsored Speaker

If the program is still in the planning stages and you cannot be specific about some details, you should still confirm in writing at least the following:

  • the date and place;
  • how many and which days you expect the speaker to attend your conference (remember your group is responsible for all the NCTE Cosponsored Speaker's on-site expenses);
  • the kind of presentation (keynote speech or workshop, opening general session, banquet speech, etc.);
  • the nature of the audience (teaching levels, expected number, whether students or the public are invited, etc.);
  • the theme of the conference and what you would like the speaker to talk about.

If the program is all planned—or once you have the details—you should write to the speaker, giving the information listed under "If the program is still in the planning stages" plus the following:

  • the name of the person who will pick the speaker up at the airport (NCTE Cosponsored Speakers will make their own travel arrangements);
  • the name, address, and telephone number of the hotel (or other accommodations) where you have made the speaker's reservation (see "arrange for housing . . ." below);
  • the schedule of program sessions;
  • any special functions (receptions, dinners, executive committee or business meetings, etc.) to which the speaker is invited;
  • any other reassuring details that the speaker asks for or that you think will make the visit pleasant and interesting. If it is appropriate, include a travel brochure or tourist information.

You may want to request an up-to-date vita and, if possible, a photo for your publicity purposes. Note that NCTE has all the NCTE Cosponsored Speaker photos in electronic files, which we will forward to you or your printer upon request.

Does Your Speaker Need Audio-Visual Equipment?

Ask the speaker if they will need any special audio-visual equipment other than a working microphone and a lectern or podium. If the speaker's presentation requires the use of an overhead projector, a video monitor, sound equipment, or an LCD projector (the speaker should be informed they will be required to supply their own laptops and, for some devices, an adapter to connect to the LCD projector VGA connection), be sure:

  • the person in charge of A-V equipment for the program is informed;
  • the equipment is at the right place at the right time;
  • extension cords, if required, are on-hand;
  • the room can be sufficiently darkened for videos or slides;
  • the screen is there and big enough for the room;
  • someone who knows how to run the equipment is standing by. 

    Note that when working with machines, Murphy's Law applies: If something can go wrong, it will.

Planning Your Speaker's Time

Strike a happy medium of attention to the speaker. Don't plan every minute of the speaker's time. On the other hand, don't just drop the speaker in the middle of the conference to fend for him- or herself.  Do offer a short guided tour of the town, city, or area where the conference is being held. However, the offer should be made in advance so the speaker can decline, if necessary, or plan accordingly. The speaker may appreciate an invitation to visit a school or other educational enterprise in your community. Do make such arrangements with the speaker and the school/enterprise ahead of time. Do offer the speaker opportunities to attend social gatherings, meals, and special events, but don't expect that the speaker should do so--quiet time and space are important, too.

Making Housing, Meal, and Registration Arrangements

Arrange for housing for the speaker. Except in unusual circumstances, don't invite the speaker to stay at someone's home. Some speakers look forward to the temporary peace and quiet of a hotel room. Some speakers require time to put the finishing touches to their speeches. Make certain that your group arranges to pay for the speaker's accommodations in advance, with a check or credit card or by having the speaker's room direct-billed to the group's master account with the hotel.

Make sure the speaker knows how the bills for the hotel and food are to be handled. Cosponsored Speakers do not receive a fee or honorarium. However, they are jointly reimbursed by NCTE and the sponsoring group for their expenses. The sponsoring group is responsible for all the speaker's on-site expenses. The easiest way to handle the rooming expense is to arrange with the hotel for the speaker simply to sign the bill when checking out. Make sure the hotel desk clerks understand that the bill is to be sent to someone on the conference program planning committee (or another representative of the group) or that the bill is to be charged to the master account for the conference. Any meals the speaker eats in the hotel will be on the bill if the group arranges to have incidental expenses included in the direct billing. The sponsoring group needs to make provisions to cover other on-site meal expenses (e.g., by giving the speaker tickets to conference meal functions, by taking them out to eat, or by giving them a stipend).

However you arrange these matters, the important thing is that the speaker understands how they are to be handled.

Preregister the speaker for the meeting and have a complete registration packet (program, meal tickets, name badge) when you pick the speaker up, or at the registration desk of the hotel. (You don't want to have the speaker waiting in line to register or waiting while a registration packet is hurriedly put together or a name badge is typed.)

After the meeting, you or the group's treasurer should send a check for the group's contribution to the cosponsored speakers fund to NCTE headquarters. Meanwhile, the speaker will send NCTE a voucher for expenses, which will be paid out of the same account. Aside from the arrangements you make for the speaker's room and meals on-site, your payments for the speaker should go directly to NCTE (invoices are sent out by the NCTE Finance Department).

Taking Care of the Speaker Before, During, and After the Conference

If the speaker cannot be picked up at the airport for any reason, you should:

  • leave a welcoming note and a conference registration packet at the hotel desk saying when you or someone on the program committee will call to check plans and schedules;
  • remind the hotel registration desk that the speaker is expected, and when, and that the group is responsible for the hotel bill;
  • ask someone on the program committee to wait in the lobby when the speaker is expected to greet him or her and make sure all is well. (If, for instance, the speaker arrives but his/her luggage does not, it is comforting to have someone who knows where the nearest drug store is).

As soon as convenient, introduce the speaker to the person who will introduce him or her (if you're not going to do it), so the introducer can double-check facts and ask any necessary questions.

Do not assume that the speaker is able or willing to talk on every subject connected with English language arts. It can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing for a speaker to suddenly be asked to hold forth on a topic that they have not prepared for. Speakers sometimes want to attend program sessions informally, with other conferencegoers, as part of the audience. They, too, have come to learn.

If any changes occur in the plans for the meeting, BE SURE TO LET THE SPEAKER KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This includes changes in date, place, time, schedule, and, of course, cancellation of the meeting.

After the meeting, offer to assist the speaker in getting back to the airport, but don't insist on waiting until the plane arrives. Some speakers spend so much time in public engagements that they value such chances to just relax quietly without the need to make small talk.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact affsec@ncte.org. 

 


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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts