Speakers Bureau

Message from Julie Dobski, District Governor 2019-2020

One of my favorite quotes is "I adore spontaneity, providing it is carefully planned." Our lives are so busy on so many levels; sometimes planning goes by the wayside. But a little time upfront can save you lots of time on the back end.

As I continue my "listening" tour of the District's Rotary clubs, one thing that I hear quite often is that clubs struggle with securing speakers. And that is where planning comes in. I would suggest you schedule out 3 months in advance.

If your club is currently scheduling week-to-week, it will be a bit time- consuming in the beginning to get a three-month schedule of speakers. But doing that work at the start will pay off in the weeks to come, as it takes the last-minute deadline pressure off club members. I know of one club that has a program committee; each committee member plans one month of programs. The committee has 4 members, so each one plans three months. They rotate the planning, so no one plans two months in a row.

I also hear that clubs struggle with finding a speaker. When I asked people to speak to my Sunrise Rotary Club, I always sold it as a benefit to the speaker. Rotary has some of the smartest, most action-oriented people in the community. Who wouldn't want to speak to an audience like that?

Some obvious speaker choices include mayors, university presidents, hospital presidents, police chiefs, Chamber directors, Economic Development directors and Convention and Visitor Bureau people. Below is a list of some areas of interest that might provide speaker suggestions.


Who isn't concerned about Mother Earth? Find experts who can speak to recycling, bee keeping, water reclamation, animal and land preserves.


Unique Businesses

Tap into growing and niche businesses including micro brewing, wineries, llama ranches, lavender farms, farm-to-vase florists.


Unique occupations

Everybody wants to hear from folks in unusual jobs including Coroner, court reporter, zookeeper, food blogger


Monthly causes

Your speaker choice can dovetail into a certain month. For example February is Black History Month; April is Autism Awareness Month; October is National Breast Cancer Month



Celebrate diversity by tapping into various communities including African American; Indian; LGBTQ; Latino



Showcase your arts community by finding speakers in these fields: fine artists, gallery owners, playwrights, actors, directors, musicians, comedians, music venue operators


Topical events

Every town or city has beloved holiday/seasonal events. Find a speaker to offer a behind-the-scenes look at annual holiday shows or parades, art shows, food festivals, galas, haunted houses.


Community Pride

What is your community famous for? Abraham Lincoln? Route 66? Railroads? Mining? Agriculture? Whatever it is, there is an expert in town who can expound on this.



Some of the best speakers I have heard are young people who not only have an inspiriing message but also a fresh outlook. Reach out to Boys and Girls clubs, high school student council presidents, college Panhellenic councils. Don't forget our own Rotary Youth Exchange Students and other young people involved in Rotary through Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), and various scholarship programs.



We all love to hear the story of the underdog team or the athlete that overcame adversity. Consider high school or college coaches and athletes, newspaper or radio sports reporters, and maybe even more alternative sports like climbing, kayaking, snowboarding, etc.

These are just a few suggestions/idea starters. Remember, you want a speaker who is engaging, inspirational, educational. And a great idea to finding a speaker is reading your local newspaper or listening to local radio. Is there a new CEO in town? Did someone open an interesting new business? And if you have a great idea for a speaker, but don't know how to contact them, someone in your club can probably get you in touch with them.

Don't forget your own members! Hearing one of our own members share their expertise is a great program, too! Another club in our district has two members always "on call" in case there is a program cancellation.

I would be remiss in this article about speakers if I didn't mention that we need to speak to each other. The 2019-2020 Rotary presidential theme is Rotary Connects the World. But to connect the world, we must first connect ourselves. Share ideas, Share successes. Share struggles. The more feedback we get, the stronger we become.


We Are People of Action Making A Difference.
Matching Points Campaign Through January 31st, all contributions of at least $100 to the Rotary Foundation for the Annual Fund-Share or Polio Plus will have their Paul Harris Fellow recognition points matched (1,000 PHF earns a Paul Harris Pin). Complete this form to receive the matching points for your donation.

Get Ready for 2020-2021 with DACdb Webinar It's nearly time to enter next year's leadership team into DACdb! Join us on Thursday, January 23, from 6-7pm to learn how. This webinar is best for club leadership but is also open to any member in the district. Registration is FREE and EASY: click HERE!

Go for the Goals: Using MyRotary Webinar The webinar held November 6, "Go for the Goals: Using MyRotary," was recorded and has been uploaded to the District 6490 YouTube Channel. Click here to watch it. If you have questions about MyRotary and entering your club's goals, contact Jane Chamberlain, District Admin, for assistance.

Save the Date: Youth Conference 2020 On Feb. 22, around 9am-1:30pm, District 6490 will hold a Youth Conference for Interact members and Rotaract members at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign. There will be no charge. Lunch will be provided. More details will come later.

Next Rotary Leadership Institute Rotary Leadership Institute is designed for those Rotarians who have the potential and willingness to engage in future club leadership, not necessarily as club presidents. RLI provides you a quality education in Rotary knowledge and leadership skills that are so important in voluntary organizations.The leadership skills you obtain at an RLI event will help you in your involvement in Rotary as well as your leadership efforts professionally. Join us for the next RLI: Saturday, February 29, 2019 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at Richland Community College, Decatur. Light breakfast, refreshments and lunch are included in the $50 registration fee. Many clubs sponsor members who are interested in attending RLI. To register go online at http://www.hoa-rli.org/ by Wednesday, February 26, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact RLI Chair, Cindy Guthrie at district6490rli@gmail.com.

New Fundraising Page Our website now has a Fundraising page. Click here to check it out

New Best Practices Page Our website now has a Best Practices page. Click here to check it out

Presidential Citation Let your club get the recognition it deserves. RI recognizes outstanding clubs with the Presidential Citation. You can find the criteria by clicking here.
District Events
Join Rotary
Where Clubs Meet