Finding a good speaker

Talks and visits can be especially motivating for young people with an interest in science – but they can go wrong if handled badly, so here are some tips.

Speaking to a young audience is a specialised skill. Some people can do it naturally, others can be taught to do it and yet others will never learn. Word-of-mouth is often the best recommendation, but if your friends and colleagues can’t help you there are some good sources to investigate which will provide you with speakers. Before you contact an organisation, think carefully about exactly what you want your speaker to provide. Here are some suggestions with several sources of speakers.

  • An inspiring demonstration with lots of whizz bang – use the Science Live website. This has presenters who can be chosen depending on subject and area.  Some will come along for free, others need  to be paid.
  • Support for your Science or Engineering Club or a mentor for projects – try STEM Ambassadors.
  • A talk about careers associated with science and maths – look for people associated with your school who work in science and engineering. Ask parents, governors and people who regularly visit the school in a professional capacity such as the school nurse. STEM Ambassadors can help with this also.
  •  A talk about a specific subject – the learned society or professional institution associated with the topic is a good source. For example:
    • The Royal Astronomical Society has a list of speakers (astronomers and geophysicists) who will come to schools
    • The Royal Geographical Society runs a Geography Ambassadors scheme which recruits, trains and supports geographers currently at university and graduate geographers from the work place to act as ambassadors for geography in the classroom
  • In some cases the Research Council for the topic may be able to help.
  • If you are close to a university, the schools outreach department will often have a list of researchers who may be willing to come and speak.