On Tuesday, Marist College will be hosting ESPN journalist Jeremy Schaap, an event sponsored by the Marist Center for Sports Communication. This is another speaker in the Center’s Speaker Series, that has brought guest such as Bryant Gumbel, Peter Vecsey, among many others. These type of events are tough to put together and it takes more than just a phone call. “It takes a lot of time and effort to get people like a Jeremy Schaap to come speak at your school,” said Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of the Center for Sports Communication. As an intriguing of a life that Jeremy Schaap lived, I wanted to know more about how one person would go about getting a guest of Jeremy Schaap notoriety. To get the best advice on this subject I talked to the man who has been doing this for Marist College, Dr. Keith Strudler. I now present to you, the Dr. Strudler Survival Guide to Hosting a Speaker.
- Be Persistent
When thinking about how someone would go about reserving a speaker it does not seem like it would be a tough job. However, it is and, it is something that if you are not constantly pressing the speaker they may not be able to come, “For a guest like Jeremy Schaap, you have to take him when you can, sometimes you have to do things differently,” said Dr. Strudler. You need to badger these people because if not they could forget about your offer and miss out on a very good speaker. There is a fine line between pestering and keeping in touch and that is something that you need to be aware of.
- Build a Good Relationship
One of the most important guidelines in Dr. Strudler’s opinion is building up a good relationship with the guest. “You can’t just send an email inviting the person to speak at your school, you need to put in time to build the relationship.” With every email and phone call, Dr. Strudler has to persuade these speakers to come to Marist, and he does it without paying them, “We do not pay are speakers, the only money I spend on them is a small brunch before hand and possibly transportation.” Building a relationship with the person before also makes them more comfortable, which will make for a better talk. The more comfortable the person is the more likely they will come and if they are comfortable enough with Dr. Strudler the interview will go by more smoothly. If the relationship is built, the conversation will seemed more forced which will affected the talk in a negative fashion.
- Make the Experience Great
Because of the lack of payment, the experience will be the lasting memory for the speaker. “Its hard to persuade someone to come and talk for free, so we have to do a great job making them feel comfortable before and during the talk,” said Dr. Strudler. Unlike most Colleges, the talks at Marist are Question and Answer with Dr. Strudler as a moderator instead of them going up there and making a speech. It is important to have the speak be comfortable because it will make the speaker obviously feel more comfortable and that will make a better experience for the audience and in this case Jeremy Schaap. With it more of a free-flowing conversation than an interview or the speaker making a speech, it makes the speaker more comfortable and saves them the time of preparing a speech or being blindsided by a hard interview question. Again it comes back to making the speaker comfortable, if they are comfortable everything will go by smoother.
- Roll with the Punches
“You have to roll with the punches sometimes, normally we like to have the talks during Activity Hour or later on, but with someone like Jeremy Schaap, you have change for him.” Not everything is going to go your way, and you need to be ready for anything. Especially with someone like a Jeremy Schaap, who has a very busy schedule, you need to be on their schedule and sometimes that means going against your plan. Do not be discouraged when things go astray, if you want to have a great talk you are going to have to roll with the punches. Coming back to the overlaying theme of making the speak comfortable.
These guidelines can help anyone successfully book a guest and have an overall successful talk. Following these rules can also save people unnecessary agony in getting a guest. If you Be Persistent, Build a Good Relationship, Make the Experience Great for the guest, and Roll with the Punches, not only will you have a great show, but you will also gain more contacts that can and will lead to more guests. Overall, looking back on Dr. Strudler’s guidelines they all come back to one theme, making the speaker comfortable. That is what he wants the readers to take away from this guide, it does not matter about how comfortable you are, it is all about the guest.