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By Gary Clark

Guest speakers are an important part of our industry. Topics are varied and often deal with the application of industry product opportunities, estate and financial planning, and the impact of taxation. Speaking is a substantial time commitment, so always look for opportunities to make your guest speaker feel appreciated. Below are some suggestions to keep in mind.

Appoint a host for your speaker: The host will contact the speaker, arrange to meet at the venue, and instruct where they are to sit with other presenters. What are some other things a host should do? Consider issues such as dietary needs if a meal is being served. Inquire about how the speaker would like to be introduced or if they would like someone specifically to do the introduction. At this time, inquire about any special presentation requirements the speaker may need, such as handouts. In the conference materials, write up a promotional summary of the presentation. Transportation is a big issue, especially if the speaker is from out of town. At a bare minimum, transportation should be taken care of to and from the event. Ideally, the host will meet the speakers directly at the airport, bring them to their hotel, and help with check-in and conference registration. This provides a truly welcomed feeling from the get-go. Committee members could offer to join the speaker for dinner.

Following the presentation, the host should accompany their speakers to the airport. Ask if they would like company until flight departs. Some will prefer to take time in the departure lounge to catch up on emails. On occasion there will be hours between flights.  Look for ways to help fill this void.

Honorariums: If the speaker is not paid, a gift of $200 or less would be appropriate. A donation in the speaker’s name to one of their known charities is always appreciated. If the speaker is paid, a letter of thanks is sufficient.

Lastly, don’t forget to send a follow-up thank you note that includes information on how the speaker should submit their receipts for their conference expenses.

Gary Clark, CLU, TEP, is president of Clark Insurance Advisory in Edmonton and is a founding member of CALU. He can be reached at

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