In the world of associations, it is not uncommon for events to rely on volunteer speakers. Many associations exclusively use unpaid, volunteer presenters at their conference breakout session speakers, on webinars and more. These speakers, in large part, present unique content for no compensation. Many do not receive complimentary travel, meals, or registration. Yet the value gained is exponential – both for the association, and for the volunteer speaker.
One of our association clients, the National Property Management Association, holds three large seminars each year. Each of these seminars depends largely on volunteer presenters. I recently asked our volunteer speakers what motivates them to speak at NPMA seminars.
Their responses centered on two themes:
- Giving back to the association that they feel has helped them advance their careers; and
- Enhancing their own professional development through researching, designing, and delivering their presentations
Here’s just a bit of what they shared:
“I volunteer to speak to provide some of my experience and expertise to other NPMA members. Receiving such experiences from the senior members when I first began my career provided me with invaluable information and perspectives in the various areas of Property Management. In addition to providing information, I also receive new perspectives from members attending my presentations. Education is a two-way street and I “get as much as I give”.” – T. Snook
“I have been volunteering as a speaker at NPMA conferences for several years now as a way to give back to this great association and I will continue to speak for that reason. I also enjoy the opportunity to share knowledge and drive conversations during sessions that lead to networking and collaboration. On a personal level, I utilize speaking at NPMA conference for my professional growth in public speaking. “– K. Saeger
While there will always be a place for paid, professional speakers at many of our clients’ conferences, the depth of knowledge that exists among association memberships provides a wealth of (sometimes untapped) resources. In addition, these volunteer speakers can be your biggest asset in promoting the conference and expanding your audience. To attract your best and brightest, association management teams should lead with the benefits to them, provide clear direction, and make sure there is ongoing support – from the Call for Speakers to the session delivery.
At Etherio, we have team members who excel in speaker management and are ready to help your members share their expertise.