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.
Tap into growing and niche businesses including micro brewing, wineries, llama ranches, lavender farms, farm-to-vase florists.
Everybody wants to hear from folks in unusual jobs including Coroner, court reporter, zookeeper, food blogger
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
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.
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.