As women’s ministry leaders, we are in the business of hospitality. It’s an unspoken part of our job description that we create environments where women feel welcome, loved, and at ease. This is true for the women we seek to minister to and the women we invite to partner with us in that ministry, specifically those women we invite to teach at our women’s events.
For help recruiting great speakers, check out my previous post, “How Do I Find the Right Event Speaker?” Once you’ve picked a speaker, here are some recommendations for how to offer the best speaker care.
Set Crystal-Clear Expectations
You and your speaker will be teed up to thrive if expectations are crystal-clear. A speaker cannot meet your expectations if he or she does not know what they are. Always clearly communicate the following information:
- What is the event theme?
- How many speaking sessions are involved?
- How long is each speaking session?
- What do you expect the speaker to do when he/she is not teaching? For example, do you want them to be available to pray with individuals? Do you want them to lead a small group discussion? Do you mind if they use “free” time to regroup alone? Be clear!
- Do your ladies have an expectation that an outline will be provided or slides will be shown to go along with the teaching? If so, make this clear to your speaker.
I’d highly recommend developing a simple, one-page contract for each speaker outlining expectations. Ask your speaker to return it signed in exchange for half of their honorarium. Putting clear expectations in writing gives everyone a point of reference to come back to and reduces the likelihood that your speaker will back out close to your event.
Remember There Is No Place Like Home
As a speaker who travels fairly often to teach at women’s events, I am profoundly grateful for the ministry leaders who are mindful of the fact that every time I say “yes” to a speaking engagement, I am, in some ways, saying “no” to my sweet family at home.
As a mother of small children, no speaking engagement is worry free, as they all require me to interrupt our family routine and leave my children in someone else’s care. Despite these challenges, I agree to teach because Jesus is worthy (Luke 18:29–30), and the speakers you bring in to teach your next women’s event have made the same choice. Here are some practical ways to ease the ache of being away from home for your next speaker:
- Ask their preference for overnight accommodations. Some speakers may prefer to stay with a family from your church. Others may want the quiet solitude provided by a hotel room. Don’t let budget drive this decision. Seek to provide a environment that will be a comfort to your speaker.
- If possible, invite your speaker’s family to join. I have been unbelievably blessed by event coordinators who have invited my husband and/or small children to accompany me on speaking trips. Some have provided larger hotel rooms for us or the basement of a church member’s home. One ministry leader even secured a whole house for us to stay at for the duration of the weekend! It doesn’t always work out for our whole family to travel together, but we definitely appreciate having the option. Can you find ways to give this option to your next speaker?
- Pray for her family. Ministry is a family investment and there is often a whole-family cost. Love your speaker well by praying for her people back home.
Speaking of prayer . . .
What Your Speaker Needs Most
As a speaker, I am acutely aware of the bedrock difference between ministry teams who prioritize prayer and those who prioritize planning. Your speaker needs your prayers. She is depending on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God so she can deliver meaningful, meaty teaching. She cannot do it on her own. Pray for her. Here are some practical ideas:
- Set up a series of calls with your speaker to simply pray together. Consider scheduling them for six months before your event, three months before your event, and the week of your event.
- Assign a team of dedicated praying women to pray for your speaker before, during, and after your event.
- Ask your speaker specifically how you can pray for her. Listen. Then pray like crazy according to her agenda, not your own.
On her best day, your speaker is a broken vessel being used by a remarkable God. Love her as a fellow image-bearer and co-laborer for the gospel, not someone deserving of being put on a pedestal.
I love Paul’s plea for prayer from the church in Thessalonica. Let us pray it together for all we invite to minister alongside of us:
Finally, [sisters], pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men (2 Thess. 3:1–2).