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How to Host a Speaker Series


A speaker series can be vital to building an active ecosystem on a college campus.  By connecting students of all different disciplines, and providing a mentor (speaker), students receive learning that couldn’t be obtained in a typical lecture hall.  At Western State Colorado University, past Fellows have helped to put on different kinds of speaker series that brought the campus together in this way.  One of the most successful of these was The Eleven Experience speaker event.  The speaker, Tyler King, was brought to the team by a mentor and professor who felt Mr. King would create excitement around campus. He is the head of Global Sales at The Eleven Experience (a popular local company), headquartered in Crested Butte, Colorado.  The event had close to one hundred attendees from a 3,500-student university.


The original goal of the speaker series was to reach out across multiple disciplines, and show how sales is applied to many different industries.  Soon after, as the team collaborated on the true goal of the event, they concluded that their underlying intention is to provide value to all the stakeholders involved.  This meant they were tasked with creating value for the audience, the speaker, the university, and the organizing team.  With 4 stakeholders, the team needed to get creative on how a speaker series could provide enough value for everybody.


The first stake holder the team focused on was the Audience.  They realized this was the heart of the event.  Without an energetic audience, there would be no event at all.  A strong marketing campaign was going to be important to ensure a lively audience would show up.  The team created posters, Facebook events, and word of mouth to market the event on campus.  The posters were attention grabbing, and stood out from the typical academic posters seen on the bulletin boards.  Emails were sent out to business students with the message: “bring a friend!”.  The team also handed out forty “black cards”.  This was an exclusive invite to a pre-event luncheon and a chance to meet Tyler before he spoke later that day.  They found each of these methods to be very successful for gathering an energized audience and providing tremendous educational value to them.


The event was set in the WSCU Movie Theatre.  Mr. King gave a presentation, describing the lifestyle of a typical Eleven Experience sales representative.  This lasted for 45 minutes, then opened to a Q&A with the audience for 20 minutes.  This gave Tyler the chance to connect with the crowd on a different level.  He had the opportunity to help guide students, and provide incredible insight into the world of high end sales.  This not only provided added value for the audience, but also value for Tyler as he was able to connect with students and give back to the local community.


The team was faced with three major costs.  The cost to rent the theatre, the cost of food for the luncheon, and the cost of post-event marketing t-shirts. (This was to create value for the University. These were handed out as a marketing tool)  The Fellows were participating in the campus entrepreneurship club, and utilized club funds to pay for the expenses of the event.

Media Capture

Students in the entrepreneurship club were starting a videography business.  They agreed to create the video for the presentation, as a sponsor.  (Due to conflicting class schedules this video was never produced)

Lessons Learned and Tips

The biggest tip the team had was to spend a long time prepping your presenter so they stick to your brand.  This was also the lesson they learned.  Though the event was a success, the speaker was a tad under prepared, and needed to be redirected by the moderator (the professor who recommended him) a couple of times.  Overall, the main goal was accomplished.  The both the audience and Tyler found value in connecting, the University was provided marketing value, and the organizing team learned many new lessons about how to create an impactful event on campus.

Contributors to this page

Tyler Brandt

Ryan Taylor

Ty Reifeis

Shaffer Nickel

Special Thanks





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