Guest Speaker Activity Guide

Guest Speakers

Using guest speakers to support learning is a structured Career Awareness activity in which students listen to a presentation to learn about the speaker’s career, business or organization and industry, and ask questions to help them consider whether they might like to pursue a career in the industry.

Designed to meet specific learning outcomes, guest speaker presentations are educationally rich, are tied to the curriculum, and help students connect what they’re learning in school with the workplace. Presentations are usually conducted in the classroom, but in some cases, guest speakers may “visit” a classroom electronically via Skype or some other technology.

Guest Speaker presentations are designed to …

Provide exposure to potential careers and jobs. Provide a realistic picture of the business, its role in the community and the career paths and occupations of its workforce. Help students make the connection between the classroom and the workplace. Inform career planning.

Guest Speaker presentations are structured to …

Allow students to listen, receive information and ask questions. Enable students to begin identifying areas of career interest. Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.

Guest Speaker presentations are supported by …

Classroom preparation, including research on the industry and participating businesses. Employer orientation and support. Opportunities to reflect upon the experience verbally and in writing.

Guest Speaker presentations are connected to …

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Guest speaker presentations are one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students engaged in career-related programs or course of study in the Orange County Regional Consortium.

Coordinator Guest Speaker Checklist

Quick tips for those charged with arranging and supporting work-based learning activities to ensure successful guest speaker programs.

Before the Guest Speaker presentation…

  • Identify all interested faculty members and help them plan for their guest speaker presentations.
  • Make sure the speakers are good matches for the classes. What classroom topics can the speaker support?
  • Prepare faculty and encourage them to participate before, during and after the guest speaker presentation. Share the Faculty Tip Sheet.
  • Have faculty help create learning objectives and work with students to prepare for the day and create questions they can ask.
  • Share speaker bio with students, plus prompting questions.
  • Provide employers an information packet about the class, including the format of the presentation.
  • Confirm employer attendance and determine presentation needs. Let them know where to park, and share any visitor procedures they need to follow.
  • Make sure the guest speakers are supported and prepared. Share questions to expect and encourage them to create an engaging and interactive presentation—using visuals and props if possible.
  • Arrange for someone to meet the speaker when they arrive, and escort them to the classroom.

After the Guest Speaker presentation …

  • Document the guest speaker presentation. Review feedback from guest speakers and faculty and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with faculty to coordinate “go deeper” activities to connect the guest speaker presentation to the classroom.
  • Send thank-you notes to guest speakers.
  • Take pictures from the guest speaker presentations and provide them to the companies for their websites or newsletters. Ensure you have signed releases for all photos.
  • Confirm guest speaker’s company social media policy. Ask speaker to send URLs to social pages so students can properly tag the speaker in a post.
  • Publicize the guest speaker presentation and the businesses that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the community college webpage.

  • Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.

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Sample Guest Speaker Timeline

  • Beginning of the school year: Identify interested faculty members and appropriate speakers. Brainstorm business partners who could participate.
  • Two months in advance: Invite business partners to participate. Secure date, time and location.
  • One month in advance:Confirm participation of speakers. Have students research the industry or company.
  • One week in advance: Send speakers logistics for the day and questions to expect. Confirm any presentation needs.
  • On day of presentation: Ensure that guest speakers are welcomed and escorted to classroom.
  • After day of presentation: Send thank-you notes to all guest speakers and ensure student reflection activities take place.

Student Guest Speaker Checklist

When guest speakers visit the classroom, you get a chance to learn about their careers and workplaces, which is a great way to figure out how interested you are in what they do.

You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, practice professional behavior and become more comfortable communicating with professionals.

Before the Guest Speaker arrives …

  • Do some research on the company that the guest speaker works for or represents. Check out their website and learn as much as you can about the company, its history, what they do and how it impacts your community.
  • Come up with some questions about the company or organization, the industry, career opportunities, and what kind of education and training is needed.
  • Practice “active listening” and how you will make sure that you’re getting everything out of the session that you can.

During the presentation …

  • Be respectful. Make sure your phone is off, don’t wear headphones, and don’t interrupt.
  • When it’s time, ask one of your prepared questions or any others that occur to you. Pay attention to what you hear. Can you see yourself working at the speaker’s company?
  • Try to make connections between what you’re hearing about and what you’re learning in class.
  • If possible, at the end of the presentation, ask for a business card or LinkedIn connection so you can follow up later. This may come in handy, even with employers who don’t excite you now.

After the presentation …

  • Reflect on the day. Talk to your classmates and faculty members about the presentation and whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in that industry.
  • Participate in classroom activities that help you think about the value of the presentation.
  • Think about next steps in moving your career plans forward.
  • Send a follow-up email thanking the employer for his or her time. If you’re interested in working there or learning more, say so and ask for next steps.
  • Fill out any evaluation forms. Be honest. That will help make future guest speaker presentations more meaningful experiences.
  • Share your experience with your peers on social media. Perhaps a blog post about the event?

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Get Ready For The Guest Speaker

Have you:

  • Researched the guest speaker's company?
  • Crafted your questions?
  • Considered the best way to make a good impression on the guest speaker when you communicate after the presentation?
  • Thought about how you'll share your experience on social media?

Faculty Guest Speaker Tip Sheet

Note: If you’re coordinating a guest speaker presentation, have a look at the Coordinator Guest Speaker Checklist

Guest Speaker presentations are designed to …

  • Provide exposure to potential careers and jobs.
  • Provide a realistic picture of the business, its role in the community and the career paths and occupations of its workforce.
  • Help students make the connection between the classroom and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Before the Guest Speaker Presentation …

  • Review the Guest Speaker Fact Sheet and this tip sheet.
  • Assess how the day can support classroom activities and help meet curriculum goals.
  • Identify desired student learning objectives. Build excitement for the day and talk to students about what they can expect to learn.
  • Have students research the speaker’s company and the careers it offers and prepare at least three questions for the employer.
  • Send information about the class and what students are studying to the speaker and provide background on the type of class they will be speaking to, the number of students, grade level(s), and career interests. Ask about any presentation needs.

During the Guest Speaker Presentation …

  • Support the guest speaker in effective interactions with students.
  • Encourage students to ask questions.
  • Hand out materials that will aid the presentation: activity sheets, industry facts, company brochures, sample products, etc.
  • Distribute and collect feedback forms from students and speakers.

After the Guest Speaker Presentation …

  • Thank the guest speaker and together identify follow-up activities for the students.
  • Provide individual and group reflection activities for students and help them make the connection between training topics and the workplace.
  • Help students think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Have students write thank-you notes to the employer partners.
  • Assess the impact and value of the guest speaker presentation with the coordinator and utilize employer, staff and student feedback to improve future guest speaker presentations.
  • Document and archive information about the guest speaker presentation.

Go Deeper

  • Make the guest speaker presentation part of a project and have students prepare and deliver a presentation to others at your college about the company that visited.

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The Classroom Connection: Preparation and Reflection

Before the Presentation

Set students up for success by having them...

  • Research company and industry of visiting speaker.
  • Discuss how the presentation can help them meet learning objectives.

After the Presentation

  • Spark student reflection with an activity.
  • Ask, "What new things did you learn about this job and industry?"
  • See if they want to find out more or further explore careers in the speaker’s industry.

Employer Guest Speaker Tip Sheet

Thanks for agreeing to present as a guest speaker. As you think about how to best prepare for your presentation, keep the following success factors in mind.

Before the presentation...

  • Provide faculty member with website link(s) about your company, industry and profession to help students prepare for your presentation.
  • Build talking points that will engage the students. Find out what they’re currently focused on in the classroom so you can link the presentation to the curriculum.
  • Ask the coordinator or faculty member for presentation tips and to help you address any concerns you may have.
  • Review where to park and enter the college.
  • If you have special requirements for the presentation, such as a projector or computer set-up, let the coordinator know.If you’re handing out materials, ask for an estimate of the number you’ll need.
  • Bring your business cards; the students may ask for them.
  • If you’re “visiting” the classroom electronically, via Skype or some other form of video conferencing, arrange for a test run prior to the presentation to work out any kinks.

During the presentation...

  • Introduce yourself, your company and job title. Let the students know what to expect from your presentation.
  • Try not to read from prepared notes and if you’re using insider lingo, define those industry terms and acronyms.
  • Use visual aids such as a product, tool or any materials from your company that will help the students understand what you do.
  • Describe a typical day at your company and help students understand as much as they can about the culture of the workplace and the nature of the world of work.
  • Share the educational and career path you took to your current position.
  • Talk about how college subjects (such as math and language arts) and good habits (such as punctuality and consistent attendance) are important skills in the workplace.
  • If possible, share mistakes you’ve made and how you have addressed problems.
  • Make your presentation interactive, if you can,with role playing, mock projects, hands-on activities, etc.
  • Ask questions of the students, making it a two-way dialogue.

After the presentation...

  • Provide feedback to the coordinator to improve future guest speaker presentations.
  • Consider how you might use this presentation to promote your company’s visibility in the community.

Go deeper

  • Talk to the coordinator about being a classroom speaker or guest trainer, helping with curriculum, or hosting students for Job Shadows, Jobs or Internships.

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Suggested Talking Points:

  • Describe your career journey.
  • Talk about obstacles you overcame.
  • Discuss need for perseverance, hard work and getting along well with others.
  • Manage expectations about the world of work.

Tips to Share:

  • Avoid job hopping.
  • Build your network (talk about how to do that).
  • Be a continuous learner and stay abreast of industry changes.

Employer Guest Speaker Fact Sheet

When guest speakers visit a classroom, students listen to a presentation to learn about the speaker’s career, business and industry, and ask questions to help them consider whether they might like to pursue a career path in the industry. Designed to meet specific learning objectives, guest speaker presentations are linked to the curriculum and help students connect what they’re learning in the classroom with the workplace. Presentations are usually conducted in the classroom, but in some cases, guest speakers may Ȋvisitȋ a classroom electronically via Skype or some other technology.

Why are guest speaker presentations important for students?

  • Exposes students to potential careers and jobs and helps build occupational knowledge.
  • Illustrates the education and training needed for entry into certain industries.
  • Provides a context for learning and fosters an understanding of how academic concepts are applied in a real-world setting.
  • Lets students know about your company’s processes and products/services, and the role your business plays in the community.

What are the benefits to my company?

  • Exposes potential future workers to job opportunities and careers with your company, as well as the required skills and education to be successful in your industry.
  • Introduces students to one or more of your employees.
  • Helps your employees understand how to communicate with the next generation of workers.
  • Provides an efficient way to introduce and engage multiple employees with your commitment to education and connect your company with the community.

What do I need to do next?

  • Determine who will coordinate the guest speaker presentation for your company and have them connect with the work-based learning coordinator to address scheduling, planning and logistics.
  • Arrange for a presentation to those employees who will participate as guest speakers.
  • Distribute the Employer Guest Speaker Tip Sheet to interested employees.
  • Consider any impacts on company policy.


  • Review the Employer Participation Options Fact Sheet to learn more about how to get the most out of your partnership with the Orange County Regional Consortium.

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Activity Summary

  • Program Level: All.
  • Employer/StudentRatio: 1 employer to 40-100 students.
  • Duration: Usually 1 hour Frequency: One time.
  • Location: College/Classroom