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Host a Panel or Speaker

Hosting a panel or speaker can be a great way to attract attention to your group and to the issue you wish to promote. As importantly, seasoned and well-informed speakers can help to educate group members and the public about medical neutrality. For suggestions on guest speakers in your area who can speak credibly about medical neutrality, please contact Andrea Gittleman at PHR via email at agittleman@phrusa.org, or via telephone at (202) 728-5335.

Hosting an event featuring a panel speaker can take over a month to plan, so there are a number of steps you’ll want to consider.

  1. Identify the discussion topic(s) or focus of the event in advance (ideally, 2-4 months). You will need to determine the focus of the event before you can identify an appropriate panel or speaker to address that issue. In addition, when inviting speakers, you will want to be able to tell them what the theme of the event is, and what issues you hope they can address. Finally, travel planning and logistics can take some time to iron out, so it is important that you give your group ample time to plan the event, and that speakers have ample time to accept the invitation and make travel arrangements. Likewise, if a speaker cancels, you will need the extra time to identify and invite somebody else.
  2. Send an invitation to your speaker or panelists. Be very clear about the topic you would like your guest to address. For instance, you may wish for your guest to discuss violations of medical neutrality in a particular country or region, or you may wish for them to discuss the legislative process so that attendees can better understand how the Medical Neutrality Protection Act will proceed through Congress.
  3. Determine whether your speaker or panelists have special requirements. After you’ve sent out your invitation to your speaker or panelists, and once they responded, either to accept the invitation or to ask questions about the event, you will want to determine whether the speakers expect a fee, honoraria, or other expense (e.g., travel expenses) that your group will need to cover. If they do expect some financial compensation, you will need to find out when the speaker expects to receive it (e.g., in advance of the event or at the event). Many speakers offer to do participate on a volunteer basis.
  4. Develop an agenda for the event. Be very clear about start and end times, as well as the order of presentations. Even if you only plan to host one speaker at the event, rather than a panel, you will still want someone from your group to do introductions. At the end of the presentation, that person should also offering concluding remarks thanking the speaker, and should ask people to take action (see next step for ideas).
  5. If possible, meet the speaker when they arrive. You may wish to welcome your guest speaker personally to your campus or group meeting site. If they have made arrangements to stay at a hotel or other nearby destination, you might offer to take them to their destination.
  6. Ask attendees to take action in support of the medical neutrality bill. In addition to asking attendees to sign in so you can keep in touch with them after the event, you may also wish to have guests take part in other actions related to the medical neutrality bill. For instance, you might prepare some pre-written letters that attendees can sign, include a sign-up sheet for people to take part in a Call-In Day, or set out information packets about the medical neutrality bill. If you decide to ask participants to sign and send a letter to their Representative, you may want to bring a laptop (and be sure that you have internet connection at the event site) so you can look up the participant’s Representative, as not everyone will know who their Member of Congress is. If you include a sign-in sheet for attendees to participate in a Call-In Day, be sure to get the attendee’s contact information so you have a way to follow up with them. You can set these tools and resources, along with a sign-in sheet, out at a table by the entrance to make it easier for participants to take action on the medical neutrality bill both before and after the event.
  7. Thank the speaker and participants for attending. Be sure to send an email to the guest speaker to thank them for taking the time to share their expertise with your peers. Be sure to also reach out to participants who attended the event to thank them for their interest, and to share information with them about future events.