Guidelines for speaking at events
This guide was created with content from the GSA’s Office of Strategic Communications (OSC) FAS Speaker Guide.
Below is the process you’ll need to follow when receving an interview or speaking request, even if you’re not interested in participating.
Media interview requests
If you’re contacted by a newspaper, TV station, radio station, podcast, or blog, send the request directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s okay to respond to the sender (cc-ing email@example.com) thanking them for the invite and letting them know that the GSA Press team will handle the request.
Other speaking requests
For all requests that are not interviews, forward the invitation to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is just for the Outreach team’s visibility, and it’s not part of the approval process. Invitations that fall in this category include requests to speak at customer events such as an agency’s acquisition conference and/or industry request, conferences, college classes, or anything you’re doing in your official capacity as a GSA employee (where you will be identified as working for GSA).
The first step when you get an invitation to speak is to decide whether or not to accept the invitation. Talk with your supervisor and challenge yourself to come up with good reasons to speak rather than having no good reasons not to speak. It’s always okay to politely decline speaking invitations.
Ask yourself the following questions when considering an invitation:
- Am I available on the date and time requested?
- Am I the subject matter expert?
- Can I speak with authority on this topic?
- Is there someone else at TTS (or another office) better positioned to speak with authority on this topic?
- Are there other TTS or GSA representatives already attending who could support this request?
- Does TTS have anything new to say about the topic?
- Who is the audience? Not just the organizer, consider the attendees: Who are they? Is it a diverse audience?
- What does the event organizer want/expect? What do we want? Why do we want to speak?
- What are the top three messages we want to convey?
- Do I have time to get this approved? (Allow at least 20 days.)
- Is there a conflict or the appearance of a conflict of interest speaking at this event?
- Does the organization do business or seek to do business with GSA?
- Should I do this event in my personal capacity?
If you are not familiar with the organization issuing the invitation or with the particular event at which you have been invited to speak, feel free to reach out to our OSC liaison Drew Jack.
Professional vs personal capacity
When receiving an invitation to speak, you need to decide if you want to do the event in your professional or personal capacity:
- You’ll participate as a TTS employee and discuss the work you do on behalf of GSA and our partners.
- You’ll be using GSA funds to travel to the event or pay for conference fees.
- You’ll prepare during your work time and use GSA equipment.
- You didn’t receive the invitation because of your position at TTS, but because of your expertise in the subject.
- You won’t be representing TTS/GSA.
- You’ll refrain from discussing any official work you do at TTS/GSA or with our partners.
- You’ll use your personal leave or participate after work hours.
- You’ll prepare on your own time and use your own equipment.
Getting approval when speaking in your professional capacity
If you and your supervisor decide this is a good oportunity for yourself and TTS, arrange a call with the event host and ask them the following questions. You’ll need this information for the approval process:
- Who is sponsoring the event?
- Why do they want you/GSA to participate?
- Who else is on the agenda? Who would be speaking right before and after you?
- Will there be press at the event/at the specific session? (Read this document about handling press at events)
- Will gifts (meals, awards, souvenirs, honoraria, travel expenses) be provided? What is the cost of the items (even if they are free for all attendees or free for all speakers)?
- Is there a fee to attend? Is the fee waived for government attendees/speakers?
- If it is a panel or roundtable: Who are the other participants? Who is the moderator? What questions will be asked?
Once you have determined you have good reasons to speak and have decided to accept the invitation, you have to get approval to participate. If the invitation is for a media interview, work with GSA’s press office to coordinate. If it is for a public speaking engagement — with or without media — all requests to attend a conference, including for GSA-hosted conferences, must go through the speaker approval process.
Guidelines for speaking in your personal capacity
- There is a general prohibition on receiving compensation for personal capacity speaking on a subject that relates to your official duties. Free/waived attendance or registration fee is not compensation.
- You can accept travel and event-related expenses from the sponsor or organizer, but would also need to take leave to attend.
- You can use title/position in conjunction with your speaking activities, but only if provided as one of a number of other biographical details. Bottom line is that it should be clear that you are not representing GSA when speaking in your personal capacity.
- You can include your office/team in your bio that is included on the conference website, but you cannot be listed in the agenda as “Dominic Sale, TTS/GSA.”
For the FAQ and other things to know check out the full guide.