- Budget for the event. It was a good idea to put on the calendar and promote, so it's also a good idea to budget for it. We all want cheap and free, but often you get what you pay for. My mother is a garage sale "pro" and I learned over the years of going with her that most people walk right by the "free" box to get to the dime and quarter box. If the event is worth having a guest speaker, it's worth charging for it. Most events that cost usually mean "better" quality to those people who consider attending.
- Have an agenda. Before the actual event prepare what you would like from the speaker. This could include the topic, message time, any counseling with adults or students, meals, "down" times, tentative cue sheets for service, prayer times, transportation details, and additional information that will help your event.
- Speaker Information. Get information on your speaker. If you can't get basic information from a website or bio sheet, send a Q&A sheet to your speaker asking him or her to return it to you at least 30 days before printed material is due. This will help in promotion and allow you to introduce the speaker without notes. An introduction without notes can help remove barriers between the audience and speaker because you appear to have a relationship with the speaker.
- Keep in contact with the speaker. This is your event; you need to be the one making the calls. Emails are great, but feel free to call and ask them to contact you at their convince. This is an area that is often neglected. Don't drop the ball, stay in contact with your speaker.
- Housing. If your speaker does not live in the area, provide housing for them. Depending on the event and the relationship you have with the speaker it could range from a nice hotel to a spare bedroom at your home. If the event is more than a day or two, you will need to also consider providing them a place to study and prepare for the next message (hotels work best for this). Providing a comfortable place to stay can make all the difference in the world to a speaker and their readiness to return. This is a great time to use those people who God has given the gift of hospitality.
- Mileage. This falls under the first point, but I want to emphasize how important it is to cover cost that many consider part of the compensation. Find out what mileage your church or area churches provide and do likewise for your speaker. Don't just pay for gas, this does not include the wear and tear on a vehicle.
- Extra. When speakers would come to our events we would always send flowers or a gift card and a note to their spouse thanking them for sharing their spouse with us. This was a small jester, but ALWAYS received much appreciation and praise.
This is not a complete list, it's an aid to start you processing and planning for your next event that includes an outside speaker. I understand that it is always cheaper not hiring speakers or to just use a local person for events. One major benefit of a speaker is that you can focus on the event and not worry about the message. When using a local speaker there seems to be a fear of "losing" students to another ministry (I have heard this dozens of times from youth pastors and church leaders). Consider a guest speaker for your next ministry event. With proper planning and preparation, you won't be disappointed!
Praying for Student Ministries!