Many smaller associations do not have the membership base to afford paying a “big name” speaker to present at a training or convention. The speakers who present for these associations are usually members of that group and present for free. While this system is cheap, and sometimes can provide for an interesting presentation, over time the “same cast of characters” are presenting at most meetings. This situation leads to lower registrations at conferences--which worsen the association’s financial position.

Having presented to mental health associations for better than 20 years, please consider the following:

1) Most “big name” speakers have a book (or two). If the organization contracts to purchase a set number of books ahead of time, (at a discount) the speaker is likely to present for free, or for a much lower fee. The organization can increase the registration fee to cover the cost of the book. This becomes a “win-win-win:” The association brings in a known speaker which increases attendance at the conference and the association becomes perceived as more forward-thinking and exciting; the attendees get the opportunity to hear an expert and receive a “free” copy of the speaker’s book(s); and the speaker gets another gig.

2) If the association does not want to lay out any money, or simply cannot afford to do so, but is willing to be creative, the association can negotiate with the speaker that he/she comes and speaks for free and the registration proceeds are split. Many speakers, if they have some input regarding the marketing of the event, will jump at this opportunity. (If the association offers to help sell books, the association could negotiate a piece of those profits, as well.)

3) To increase registrations at events, associations must begin promoting five to six months ahead. From that point forward emails should come out every two weeks. The emails should include the speakers’ bio, books they have written, summaries of those books, places where the speaker has already presented, etc.

4) To put more money in the treasury and to aid in planning, the association should officer a substantial graduated discount for registering at three months out (25%), two months out (15%), and one month out (10%). A student discount should also be offered but only at two months out.

5) When holding an event the association should notify other similar organizations within a hundred-mile radius and invite those members to attend. For example, a counseling association chapter should notify other associations, including the state association, MFT associations, social workers associations, psychological associations, school counseling associations, and school psychology associations. It is acceptable to charge an additional fee for non-members, which is easy extra income—which should be dropped if the registrant chooses to become a member. All training sites in the general vicinity should also be notified to attract students to the event. Students should be incented to join the organization as a student member.

6) Promote the event. Put out a press release. Send flyers to members and ask them to print them and post them. Get the event out in social media. Get on talk radio. Arrange to have the speaker do a remote radio interview.

By using these techniques organizations can afford to bring in exciting speakers, motivate their membership, grow their association, and put needed money in the treasury.

Author's Bio: 

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 35 years. He works with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations in the areas of family law, personal injury, and estate planning. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of “Who’s Raising Whom? A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline,” “Coping with Your Adolescent,” “How Come I Love Him But Can’t Live With Him? Making Your Marriage Work Better,” “The Graduate Course You Never Had: How to Develop, Manage, Market a Flourishing Private Practice—With and Without Managed Care,” and “Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Your Fortune? Discover the Psychology of Achieving Your Life Goals.” His contact information is: 602-996-8619; 11020 N. Tatum Blvd., Bldg. E, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85028;;