Instructions and tips on inviting people to speak at your university.

Somewhere Samuel Clemens says it's no great accomplishment to get people to cheer after your lecture: the real challenge is to get them to stand up and cheer. Ever seen that at an academic conference?

Another model speaker, Demosthenes. He was among the first generation of professional speech writers (logographers); at the time they also delivered their own orations for their customers.


Searching the internet for images of "absolutely amazing speaker" or "astonishing speaker" turns up some interesting people.

How to Invite a Speaker

Unpublished essay

This essay was originally intended as an anonymous contribution to the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it was rejected three times. (There was some discussion about whether or not they could publish an essay without the author's name on it.)

Meanwhile I have gotten a number of requests for it, so it's uploaded here. It is a guide for administrators and others who invite speakers, with information about everything from the efficient use of email to bargaining over the honorarium. It has suggestions about how to use the speaker's time, how to introduce a speaker, and how hard to work the speaker.

It turns out that this is the most popular thing I've written, by far: four times as many people have read this as the next most popular paper on Academia. C'est la vie!

I'm always interested to hear from people with ideas about things to add to the paper, and I'm thinking of expanding the essay with stories: please write me using the contact form on the website.