Sue Tinnish

Dean, School of Hospitality Management

Our Stance

Guest speakers are a great way to bring new perspective into a class. The instructor remains the facilitator of the learning, thoughtful integration of a guest speaker into a class can provide a valuable experience. 

Enlisting a guest speaker is a great way to add a new perspective to a class.  However, guest speakers must fit into the curriculum and must be prepared in order to have impact your students’ learning.  Don’t just plop a guest speaker into a class and expect the speaker to do all the work.  It remains your job to facilitate the learning – connecting what the speaker said to the class content, helping the class see the connections or helping draw the conclusion.

Your guest speakers will also be more effective if you prepare them.

Preparing Guest Speakers

  • Ensure that guest speakers know why they are speaking to your class.  Tell them your goal for their presentation.
  • Provide background of your class: What is your class about?  Where are you in terms of material?  What are you talking about in class now?
  • Provide background to your class demographics:  Alert them to the international component.  Coach them (as necessary) about jargon, being understood by students, etc.

Confirming Guest Speakers

You need to prepare your class (see below), but it is also important to confirm details with your speakers. Here is a template you could use for communication with your guest:

Presentation Details:  Thank you for agreeing to present to my class, __Class Name____________.  You will be presenting on the topic of ____Topic____________.  This fits into the class because ___Reasons for selecting this speaker and topic.  Your presentation is scheduled for _#   minutes from __Time___ to__ Time___.  As a result of your presentation, I would hope that students would leave knowing/understanding a few outcomes. 
[Then logistical details: If you will have a PowerPoint presentation, please email me your presentation by _________.  "Please bring your presentation on a flash drive.”]

Provide general directions and information to Kendall: Kendall College is located at 900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago, IL60642.   We are basically located one block north of Halsted and Chicago.  Our campus is accessible via mass transit; you can also park in the free parking lot in front of our one-building campus.

Arrival Time and Check-In: Please plan to arrive at __Time___. Upon arrival, please check with the Student Concierge at the front desk.  You will need to provide a photo id upon arrival. [Then detail your specific instructions, e.g., Please have the Concierge call me and I will come down and greet you, Please proceed to the 7th floor and go to room ____]

Dress Code:  Kendall has an official dress code.  Our students will be dressed in [specify - business professional or business casual].

I know our students will benefit from your presentation and I am grateful that you can share your expertise with us.

Welcoming Guest Speakers

Be sure to send an email to Security and the Front Desk alerting them of your guest’s arrival.  You will be asked to greet your guest and escort them during their visit. Here is an email template you can use for providing notification:

Greetings to Kendall's Reception Desk,
Please expect my guest for CLASS NAME in Room # on DATE.
Guest:  NAME  
Please contact me at NUMBER upon my guest’s arrival so I can escort him/her in. 

Preparing Your Class

Set the expectations for your students in advance of the visit.  Here is sample email from an instructor:

Just a brief word of encouragement before tomorrow's guest presentations by DETAILS.  Having talked with them, they are quite psyched to be coming to Kendall to talk with you tomorrow.  Their presentations should be a really informative and interesting.
Here's what I am asking from you:
  • Be terrific representatives of Kendall College to them
  • SMILE, be friendly and ATTENTIVE to what they are saying in class
  • Put away your phone in your backpack or purse or pocket
  • Avoid chatting with each other about the presentation while they are presenting
My challenge to each one of you... Feel Comfortable to ask 1 question during the presentation (If everyone asked at least one question or made one comment, the presentation would be very interactive which is what they want).   Raise your hand and feel confident, talk loudly and raise questions that may help you better understand the design process.   No question is unwanted. Let's show SPEAKER NAME what bright and thoughtful students you all are.... I have seen it already when we work together on something...
We may have a number of guests from the Capstone program who will be joining us for this lecture...Let's be great examples to them...
…Finally, please CLAP at the appropriate times during the class.  It's a very positive thing to hear applause and everyone is trying to do their best.  Let's show them our true appreciation...
Let's have a great day tomorrow, have some fun and learn a lot about TOPIC!

Thanking Guest Speakers

Follow up with some form of a thank-you:

  • Send a thank-you note where students write a short personal note to the guest speaker. 
  • Provide a gift. 
  • As the instructor you can also send a thank you note. Here is a thank you written by an instructor – it is a very personal and warm thank you email:   
I have heard nothing but the highest praise from my…students about your presentation and its content…you made a wonderful and lasting impression on my students as they sought me out today just to tell me how impressed and better educated they are on hotel revenue management after hearing from you last Wednesday.  One of the best moments for me as a professor in hospitality management is when a student comes to me and tells me that they have thought about their career path in the hotel industry, but are not sure exactly where to apply their skills until after listening to something I have taught them, or after listening to a guest lecturer like yourself.  I had one such student do that after class this morning.  My student, XXXX, told me that she was so interested in what you presented that she could see herself pursuing a career in revenue management.  I believe she said that she spoke with you about making an appointment to learn more from you.  This is a very high compliment and not one that I often hear after a guest lecturer has spoken to my class.  You obviously showed your passion for your job and obviously made my students “think” about their chosen career path.  For this, and for your taking from your valuable time to speak to my class, I profusely thank you.