Speakers and Presenters

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Education is a component included within the mission of the MQG, and most guild members enjoy the sharing of techniques and ideas. Some guilds have a speaker each month and others have them less often. Speakers can be from within your guild or from the outside. Some will work with you for free, and some will charge a fee to come address your guild. You may want to develop policies or guidelines around speakers, including the maximum costs you are willing to pay and how often you will include non-local speakers.

Many guilds conduct a poll of members at least once a year to determine what they want to learn and who from. An ongoing dialogue with members can also lead to suggestions and ideas. A committee, often under the program coordinator, can be set up to search for and recommend speakers.

Your executive calendar is a good place to start when determining when to schedule speakers. Review the guild calendar to select your dates six months to one year in advance, if possible.

  • Determine how much time during your monthly meeting can be set aside for a presentation.
  • For speakers who visit during monthly guild meetings, make sure that they can easily show or teach something within the allotted time.
  • Set expectations in advance for members about presenters and their content. Post info on the speaker and topics (and any relevant links) on your website.
  • Advertise the event on community message boards and Facebook pages and on your guild’s various social media platforms.
  • Take advantage of the MQG’s ability to contact individual members near to you with an email about your activity. For more information, email amanda@themodernquiltguild.com.


It is possible that you have very interesting lecturers available to you locally, either from within your guild or in your local community. Be sure and let guild members know in advance the content and length of the lecture. Speakers should be able to provide you with information you can share with your guild, including their bio, photo, workshop, or lecture descriptions.

One of your best sources of speakers can be local guild members. Ask a member to share their special talents — embroidery, hand quilting, binding tips, English paper piecing, matching binding, applique, color theory for quilters, etc. Members who are accomplished quilters can do a trunk show of their own work, or have a few do “mini-trunk shows” at the same meeting. One of the most popular meetings at the Chicago MQG asks five of the local guild members to present a collection of their work. If any of your members teach quilting, ask them to present their regular programming or an abridged version of one of their more popular classes. They may be willing to donate their time to the guild or you may need to work out payment details (make sure your locality allows for payment of members of your organization). Members who have recently returned from QuiltCon, Quilt Market or another quilty event may be able to give the guild a recap with photos.


The MQG provides a list of teachers and lecturers on their website. You can also also use the QuiltCon catalogue (current and past) or review content on the MQG website as a source for lecturers and workshops. If budget is a concern, consider showing a past webinar on a desirable topic from the archives of the MQG.


Local community artists, artisans and community centers may be a good source of ideas. Members who may be involved in other hobbies can help find people who are teaching non-quilty arts, such as weavers, dyers, fabric printers, bag makers, pattern designers, artists who upcycle, etc. Local museums or quilt preservation societies may have an expert on quilt-making or other textile art. Book publishers may have a touring author available to speak, or you may be able to invite a “textile arts” or design professor from a local college.

National quilt suppliers may be able to provide a local representative to speak to the guild; thread manufacturers, fabric companies, and batting companies are good places to start. Local quilt shops may be willing to visit and show what’s new or upcoming. In most cases, if the presenter is a shop, supplier or repping products, then they are willing to provide the speaker for free. Know that a retailer may want the opportunity to sell product at the meeting - check beforehand on any sales restrictions that may be in place at your meeting location.



When booking a speaker who will be travelling to meet your guild, you will need to set expectations around the visit with them. Discuss, in advance, details like how much time they will have, where will they be in the agenda, what kind of space they have, how many people will be there and whether you provide an honorarium.


You will also need to decide whether any costs associated with the speaker will be covered by overall membership fees or if members be charged for each speaker. Some guilds include an amount for speakers and programming in their yearly budget. Having a set amount that the guild is willing to spend to helps narrow down the choices. Most guilds charge non-members a fee to attend special programming. You can also schedule a national speaker to address your guild digitally using the MQG Zoom platform to save money. If this is an option that interests you, email info@themodernquiltguild.com to talk dates and details. You can also consider splitting costs with another guild or a shop to make the visit more affordable.


Zoom usage: https://community.themodernquiltguild.com/resources/guild-webinar-materials


Hospitality goes a long way to making your out of town speaker feel important. Find a suitable hotel or make arrangements with one of the guild members (but be sure to follow any guidelines the speaker or teacher may have in their contract). Be considerate about location, noise levels, surrounding community. They likely do not know your city so make plans to transport them to and from where you are staying to your meeting space. One of the guild members may be happy to transport them. You may also wish to organize a meal with the visiting speaker. Typically board members attend if possible, although some guilds invite all members to join in. In most cases, each member pays for their meal themselves.


Provide your speaker with an agenda with all pertinent information for the speaker for their trip. This should include addresses of all locations where they are staying and teaching, contact information for anyone picking up or dropping off (especially important at airport pick up), any confirmation numbers for arrangements that have been made. Be sure to build in any travel time. An example travel agenda can be found here.


To offset the cost of bringing in an out-of-town speaker, work with other guilds in your area to see if you can book a Saturday at one guild and Sunday at another. This way you can split costs of airfare and hotel accommodations, and it will mean more income for the teacher.



Many speakers have a blog/website that provides current workshop and lecture options and if so, determine what is best for your guild. Contact the speaker and see what their schedule is for the next year. Their travelling/teaching schedule may already be scheduled near you at some point so that travel costs can be minimized.


Have a contract that spells out all variables. Putting all of your expectations down on paper clarifies those expectations for both parties. Make it clear what is expected of the speaker (Workshop, Lecture, Trunk Show). The MQG has a sample instructor contract here.


You will also need to find a suitable location for your event and ensure it includes what you and the speaker need. Plan in advance for needs such as tables, projector, design walls, etc.