Report from the Program Committee on the Speaker Selection Process
By David McClurg, Chair of the Program Committee
Year after year our member surveys reveal that the consistent quality of the speakers we are able to attract to our luncheon meetings is a major benefit that the Club provides, and one of the key reasons we are able to recruit and retain members. Although some members are occasionally disappointed with certain speakers, the great majority of our speakers are rated excellent or very good by those responding to our weekly surveys.
Over twenty members of the Program Committee meet quarterly to discuss suggestions for future speakers. These suggestions come from the Committee members, other club members, our Executive Director and, in some cases, from the potential speakers themselves or friends of club members. Additionally, we receive requests from other groups, such as the Press Club, to do joint programs with speakers of interest to both clubs.
All of these suggestions are discussed in detail at our Program Committee meetings in order to take advantage of the diverse experiences, and political and professional viewpoints of the Committee members. Often, Committee members or the Executive Director will be asked to follow up to gather additional information relating to a proposed speaker, or to contact the chair of another Club Committee that may have an interest in a topic under consideration to either solicit idea’s for a speaker on that topic or to gain insight on the quality of a proposed speaker.
In addition to attempting to ensure that the speakers we invite will be informative and engaging (and sometimes entertaining), the Committee strives to maintain a balance with respect to the range of topics being presented to the Club. Among other things, we look for speakers that can address business issues, arts & entertainment, economics, education, environment, health, international relations, the military, challenges and opportunities facing Milwaukee, politics and sports.
Beyond balancing the topics discussed at our luncheon meetings, the Committee also attempts to present diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints on particular issues and, of course, on political races. While there will always be some members who disagree with the position taken by a speaker on a particular issue, or the political persuasion of an elected official or candidate invited to speak to the club, the Committee works hard to find a balance of speakers that that can provide interesting and reliable information that is relevant to our members and our community in a professional and engaging fashion. We always welcome suggestions from Club members regarding excellent speakers that they may have encountered in other venues.
The Club’s reputation for having consistently good speakers (despite the fact that we seldom pay honorariums) remains one of our best recruiting tools to interest prospective members to join our Club and encourage existing members to remain with us year after year. The Program Committee is committed to ensuring the continuation of this tradition.