Conference Speakers

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Speakers from Abroad

Sometimes you may find that the most knowledgeable, and appropriate speaker on a particular topic, will not be someone who lives in this country; as a result you want to engage a speaker from abroad: how do you go about this?

Let’s say that you’ve contacted your expert, and she or he is willing to come over and give a talk.

How much more complicated will this be, due to the fact that they are not a British Citizen?



Have you contacted them by phone? It has to be said that many people whose first language is not English, are proficient in writing, but not in the spoken language. It is well known amongst language teachers, that pronunciation is usually the last skill to be attained, to an acceptable level.

Perhaps you find that this will not be a problem; perhaps you will determine that engaging a translator would be justified.

Other Practical Considerations

Your speaker is to be a guest, both at your event, and in your country. Of course, as much as possible should be done to make their stay as comfortable as possible.

Here are some of the things you, as host, may need to bear in mind:

-The length of the flight.
-The time-zone from which your guest originates.
-Dietary and cultural differences.

To take the last first, we are fortunate in living in a multi-cultural society; it would be a very poor venue/hotel indeed which could not cater for halal, Jewish, and/or vegetarian requirements, Similarly, a hotel should be well able to respect any reasonable requests, for instance for a room facing east, etc.

But what about the rigours of long distance travel?

Let’s look at a possible scenario. Your visitor comes from the west coast of the United States. This is not, for a variety of reasons, the least demanding situation one can envisage. First of all, it is a very long flight (up to 13 hours), secondly, the west coast is seven hours behind us, so your speaker will have almost the worst case of jet-lag imaginable when they get here.

One option, is for she or he to remain essentially, in their own time-zone, to make a flying visit here, and then return, without at any point having to adjust to BST or GMT. However, the length of the flight will probably preclude this; though it might sometimes be an option.

Such is not the usual strategy in any case; the usual thing is to allow at least a day between the speaker’s arrival, and his engagement. However, a short recuperation period like this, though it does allow time for rest after the tribulations of the journey, often is not sufficient for the purpose of adjusting body clocks.

Another option would be for your guest to arrive much earlier than their pre-arranged talk, even a week earlier, to combine their business trip with sightseeing, perhaps. You would have to come to some compromise about the extra cost of this, but the arrangement would tend to facilitate a better performance as a speaker.


Legal Requirements

If your visitor is from an EU country or Switzerland, there are no particular legal requirements to consider, other than the obvious one of ensuring she or he has a passport, or can obtain one in time for your event. If they are from quite another part of the world, things may become much more involved.

Of course, your speaker, especially if they are being paid, should be the one responsible for applying for visas etc. But bearing in mind that they might not be familiar with the delights of British bureaucracy, it may well fall on you to assist.

In the case of the speaker’s nationality being one which requires them to have a visa to stopover and work in the UK, then they will have to obtain either a business, or an academic, visa. If the speaker is a ‘non-visa –national’, they may or may not have to obtain a visa,

Clearly, a certain amount of time should be allocated to the task of sorting these things out, and this should be well before the event.


Once the contract, etc, has been negotiated, and acceptable accommodation found, in the rest is up to the speaker, in theory; however courtesy and efficiency dictate that you pay due attention to the needs of your guest.


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