Bo Budinger (WA1QYM)
ARRL EMA ACC
One of the most important aspects of a good ham radio club meeting is the featured speaker. Good attendance at club meetings can often hinge on the featured speaker of the day. I had the job of recruiting speakers for the monthly meetings of our local club for years. I know how difficult it is and how much a club depends upon good speakers. So, I thought I would draw from my experience and hopefully provide some guidelines and hints to help others in this difficult task.
You might wonder just what types of topics are good for ham radio club meetings. It has been my experience that there are a wide range of topics that “fit the bill”……both topics within ham radio and those, outside of ham radio that would appeal to technically oriented people. Most ham radio clubs in Eastern Massachusetts are general purpose clubs so just about any ham radio related topic……digital modes, propagation, microwaves, antenna design, rig restoring……will draw a good crowd. I recall visiting the Quannapowitt Radio Association club meeting in Reading a few months ago. The speaker for the evening was talking about a power amplifier project he had been working on. Even though I have never been on the air with over 100 watts of power, this talk was fascinating. I also recall a talk given by Ed (AB1CW) to the PART group in Westford on model helicopters. This was a talk way outside the realm of ham radio but one that was well received by all the members. So, don’t be bothered by the subject….hams are quite receptive to new ideas and to old technology.
Now just where does one find club meeting speakers. The best and closest source is right in your own club. Club members feel at ease speaking at their own club meetings. I suggest the person in charge of club speakers promote this idea. Its not uncommon to have a member present a project he is working on during a club meeting. This could be any ham radio project…..even if it is not complete. Often there is a great interaction between the speaker and club members when it comes time to talk about completing a project. If you are in charge of obtaining speakers for club meetings constantly let the membership know they are welcome to speak at a future meeting.
Another great source of club speakers is people who have spoken at nearby ham radio clubs. These people have already prepared their talk and are often quite willing to give it again to a group close by. I constantly searched the web pages of nearby clubs to see who is speaking and what their topic is. If something looked interesting I would sent them an e-mail (almost all active hams have e-mail at ARRL.net) to inquire if they would be willing to talk at my club. I have always been impressed by the number who replied positively. Also don’t overlook the great list of speakers put together by the people running Boxboro every other year.
I have found that it is an advantage if the club president is in charge of obtaining meeting speakers. A potential speaker is much more willing to respond to the president as he would be to someone appointed by the president………Just a thought!