Hosting a FIRE speaker at your school is a great way to catalyze social change at your institution and educate your campus community about the importance of free speech, due process, and religious liberty.
First Things First…funding
Most speakers require travel, lodging, and honoraria. To secure this funding, submit a request to your school’s administration, your student government, or your organization’s national office. Funding requests often require you to provide the proposed date, time, and location of your event, so be sure to have these details figured out before requesting money from your school or organization. Don’t forget to request money for food as well! Pizza or snacks can do wonders for increasing event attendance.
Short on funds? FIRE speakers are happy to conduct Skype sessions at no cost. FIRE staff have hosted Skype sessions to discuss the importance of free speech, due process, and FIRE’s mission with groups of students and faculty from across the country.
Reach Out to FIRE!
Fill out this Request a Speaker form on our website. A FIRE representative will respond to you shortly after your request is submitted to connect you with a FIRE speaker.
The next step is for you to coordinate with your FIRE speaker. Make sure to pin down a specific topic for the talk and coordinate logistics. For events planned far in advance, touch base with your speaker about a week before the event to confirm all travel and event arrangements.
Planning Your Event
Make a list. Brainstorm all the things that need to be done before the event and make a timeline of when they should be completed. For example, having posters made a few weeks ahead will ensure that you have plenty of time to hang them around campus. It’s also a good idea to place any catering orders at least one week in advance.
Delegate. Be sure to assign roles within your group and give clear deadlines for each task that must be completed. Enlist a volunteer to be the point of contact for the speaker, and another to take charge of digital and physical promotion. Ensure you have volunteers for event photography, to emcee the event, and to order food. Delegating various tasks is an essential step to help the event run smoothly.
Secure a venue. Follow your institution’s procedure for booking an event space. Think about the number of people that you expect to attend—you don’t want to reserve a room that holds 50 people if you expect 300 to be there! Remember to reserve the space for enough time to allow for set up and clean up.
Promoting Your Event
Ask other organizations on campus to co-sponsor the event. By doing so, you can save money, boost attendance, and gain critically important campus allies. Tell allied faculty about your event and ask if they would be willing to promote your event in class or even offer extra credit to those who attend. Ensure that your event is listed on the campus calendar. Also, try getting the college—or departments within the college—to co-sponsor or promote the event on the college website.
Create a Facebook or Eventbrite event page. Invite all students and anyone who might be interested in attending. Encourage your friends to do the same! Facebook allows news about an event to spread quickly and easily, even to those outside your network or circle of friends.
Be sure to do direct outreach on campus. Flyering, tabling, press releases, media advisories, and op-eds are all great ways to get the word out! It’s a good strategy to have those helping plan the event send out personal messages to their network of friends the night before or the morning of the event to remind them to attend. It means a lot more to get a personal note from someone you know, rather than a general Facebook event reminder.
Most of the work for the event should be completed before the day of the event. Make sure all loose ends are tied up and that all volunteers understand their roles. It’s important that your group’s point of contact is available and in direct communication with the speaker on the day of the event, should the speaker have any questions. Take a deep breath and have fun!