January 22, 2018

7 ways to turn your campus speaker into a promotional machine

Because your students sit in classes much of the day, attracting a crowd to your lecture or speaker-based event can pose an extra challenge for your campus activities board. Whether you’re on the student activities staff or you’re a volunteer student leader you can use all the help you can get to make your events worth the fees most college speakers charge.

Promotional Machine - Photo Copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

Even facing this challenge, most activities boards overlook the most qualified expert on their team – THE SPEAKER themselves! Believe it or not your speaker cares whether or not you get a good turn-out for your event. Believe me when I tell you that because a standing-room-only event makes both of you look good many speakers are willing to get involved and help you promote your event to students, faculty, staff and the local community in any way they can. The best college speakers know what draws people to their events and are often willing to devote the extra time and effort to insure your success.

Here are seven ways you can get your speaker involved in helping you recruit your audience.

1. Ask your speaker to design a flyer. Most college speakers who regularly deliver campus programs probably already have a general template designed. They’ll just need to change the date and other details to correspond with your event. If the speaker can’t provide one consider recruiting a graphic design student or artist on campus to design one. Once you have it, post/distribute it all over campus.

2. Blog about it on your school blog. Your speaker can usually make lots of advance information available to your blogger and even make themselves available for a blog interview. This is a good way to talk to your students about the benefits of hearing this speaker. (NOTE: If you don’t have a school blog, with the help of someone on your campus activities board, you can blog about it here at CampusTalkBlog.)

3. Arrange for a newspaper interview. Get your guest speaker interviewed by your campus or local newspaper if the next issue will be out before the event. Speakers love to be interviewed and it can be done by phone so distance isn’t a factor. The speakers should also be able to email any photos or other visuals you might need for the article.

4. Do a radio interview. Get your guest speaker to call into the campus or local radio station. Most radio stations can interview guests by call-in and this can really get your audience excited. They’ll get a chance to hear the speaker’s voice and get a taste of the energy they’ll bring to the event.

5. Get the speaker on TV. If you have a campus TV station or relationships with a local station your speaker would make a great news feature or talk show guest. The speaker might have to arrive on campus as much as a day before the event but often that’s not a problem. If their schedule permits, they won’t pass up a chance to be on TV.

6. Post a promo video on YouTube. Most speakers have the ability to make a short promo video, sometimes even custom tailoring it for your school, giving the date, time and all other important info. Most importantly, the video should stress the benefits of attending and give enough content to generate excitement. Once it’s on YouTube you can embed it in your website or blog, send it out by email and much more.

7. Partner your speaker with a student marketer. Have a student on your activities board or an eager volunteer marketing major assigned to assist you in promoting the event. Connect them with the speaker and the two of them can work together to implement all of the strategies above and brainstorm other ways to promote that will be perfect for your campus.

Don’t be shy in asking your speaker for promotional help. The best of them will have pre-prepared media and promotional materials and will jump at the chance for extra exposure as long as their travel and speaking schedule permits.  Got any other ideas? I’d love to hear them and how to make them work for you, your campus and your guest speakers.


This series of posts will help you get better student turnout at all of your campus events and will work especially well for speaker-based events. Remember to always enlist the help your guest speaker or trainer in your promotional efforts. Look for powerful Student Learning Outcomes that lead to immediate or future success.

Series Navigation<< Start the buzz with a campus activities ‘marketing street team’Market your campus event like an 800-Pound Desktop Gorilla >>
About the Author: Rick Sherréll (12 Posts)

Rick Sherréll is the Blogitor (Blog Editor) here at CampusTalkBlog and agent for the college speakers at Pro Speakers Bureau. In his entrepreneurial life he has been a writer, editor, speaker, trainer, marketer, coach, IT specialist, consultant, event planner, broadcaster, fundraiser and innovator. Find out more at www.RickSherrell.com and www.ProSpeakersBureau.com/about.


  1. Rick – great article! I am a full time college speaker and a lot of my clients struggle to understand how to best promote speakers on campus. I have a turn-key kit for them (which includes a flyer like you suggested) and I’m now going to encourage them to read this article too!. Thanks!

    • Jason,

      Sounds like you are on the ball. Getting great turnout to a speaker-based event is a challenge for most campuses and they will jump at any help the speaker is willing to give them. Having a turn-key kit is BRILLIANT! The folks in Student Activities and on Campus Activity Boards are VERY busy. Speakers need to realize the things they can do prior to the event that will affect turnout. Keep up the great work. (PS. I’d love to hear more about what’s in that turn-key kit!)


  2. Good stuff, Rick! I also think taking advantage of the speaker’s background can help. For example, I was a Theatre major and my degree is in Speech. I have done workshops, coffees, meals as Q & A sessions for students interested in those areas as an additional “program” before and/or after the presentation I was booked for. I recall one school in Texas in particular that this idea helped increase our audience. A Theatre professor brought his entire class to my leadership program and then I chatted with them for another two hours about the profession they were pursuing!

    • Great ideas Dave to partner with a professor or department that’s related to the topic or the speaker’s background. This could be a boost for students majoring in that area. They get a chance to meet someone working in the field or related field. Is it true that sometimes professors will award extra credit for such attendance? Either way it’s an awesome way to boost turnout!


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