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The right guest speaker can make a difference

Guests can make a session more engaging, but it's important to choose carefully.

Make sure your guest is right for the job

Guest speakers can help to liven up an intervention and keep an audience engaged but only when they’re a good fit for the subject matter.

We have provided some basic advice on this topic. Please bear in mind that these are only general pointers, and won’t cover everything you might need to know.

Do you really need a guest speaker?

A guest speaker can add an interesting dynamic to an intervention, especially in a classroom. That said, you don’t have to have one. A focused and well-run session can often still give you the end result you want.

Weigh up the pros and cons

Guest speakers bring positives and negatives to a session.

You’ll need to decide whether they can add value and help to resonate with the audience, or if they might just end up distracting from your main objectives.

Guests don’t always work out the way you think

It’s easy to think that certain types of guests will have a positive impact. However, the evidence can sometimes suggest otherwise.

Here are a couple of examples:

Empathy guest

Guests like a bereaved family member, or injured teenager, can bring out a strong emotional response from the audience but evidence that this leads to behaviour change is unclear.

Authority guest

Guests from the police, fire or ambulance services are usually well respected. However, their input is only useful if it fits with your design and messaging for the intervention

Make sure your guest knows the bigger picture

If you do use a guest speaker, always make sure they’re aware of your aims and know what you’re trying to achieve. Remember, their own opinions might not align with the design of your intervention.

The type of guest can vary

Guest speakers don’t need to be experts, or authority figures. It could also be someone who’s simply changed their behaviour in a way that mirrors your session.

For example, a young person who decided not to take their driving test might explain the barriers they overcame, as well as how they’ve saved money by not having a car.

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