How to host a guest speaker at your corporate learning event | My social learning presentation experience at Blackberry..er I mean.. Research in Motion [RIM]

I was at the offices of the good people of Blackberry (Research in Motion) last week to present and facilitate a level setting session on Social Learning at their quarterly Internal Learning Forum [ILF]. Like at my presentation at the Canadian Society for Training and Development, I engaged my colleague, Joost Robben, to check in and give us a quick presentation on the process we’ve gone through in leveraging social networks to collaborate and ultimately developed our Social Learning Technologies model (see page 15 of this deck). Since I signed an NDA, I can’t tell you about their gorgeous facility nor topics we’ve discussed but I can tell you that my contacts there were gracious, courteous, and whose service were at par with world-class customer experience. At least that’s how they treated me. I even told them this as  I’ve spoken at conferences, universities, and corporations around the globe and their Waterloo staff were welcoming and anticipate their speaker’s requirements. Below is what I can show you of the presentation deck I used.

Social Learning Presentation @ RIM

View more presentations from Robin Yap.

Quick tips when hosting a session with an outside speaker:

Prior to the session

  • Provide all the details of the session including people you are going to meet (if not for my contact’s email I may not be able to spell or pronounce properly people’s names), dietary requirements, directions to which building you are headed, dress code, etc.
  • Assist in the handouts and printing of the materials
  • Get approval from the speaker of the introduction you are going to be using
  • If there are reimbursements or any payments made, identify how this will be processed and turnaround times to set appropriate expectations
  • Get copies of the presentation and make sure they are on a stick
  • Remind speaker to provide business cards

At the Session

  • Anticipate your speaker’s needs
    • Are there technical needs?  Do they need speakers? Microphone? Teleprompters? Access to video conferencing equipment? Are you providing tech support on hand before, during, and after the session?
    • Internet access? How are they going to log onto your wi-fi network? Have a readily available one time username and password
    • Physical access to the building? Provide access to the building by giving the speaker a pass key or accompany the speaker throughout the event to ensure they don’t get lost and end up wandering through secured areas
    • Provide a beverage and a snack. Speakers whose sessions last hours can get parched and a quick sip of water gets them going. You don’t want a speaker who will lose their voice along their facilitated session or presentation, do you?

Post Session Debrief

  • Publicly and privately thank the speaker
  • Provide a token gift as a gesture of your thanks. A Starbucks Gift Card is a good starting point, at least for a soy extra foam latte guzzling guy like me.
  • A nice handwritten thank you card along with your token gift will make you stand out from the rest of the hosts and they will speak highly of you to their colleagues
  • Ask the speaker if a feedback will be expected from the session then follow up with audience level 1’s along with qualitative and anecdotal assessments. Most speakers, including myself, always look to improve our speaking abilities as this is a skill we continue to hone, so constructive criticisms are a definite welcome along with accolades, if any. Organizations like ASTD, CSTD and Toastmasters provide the actual metrics to the speaker as these become training basis for the next time that speaker stands in public to present.

There are other important aspects of creating stellar speaker experience, what would those additional points be for you? Post your additional input below.

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