Guest lecturers, students receive reciprocal value from discussions

Much has been written about the unprecedented transfer of wealth that will soon gain momentum as a generation of baby boomers passes along a lifetime of upward mobility to its children and grandchildren. While the financial turmoil of the last few months has trimmed many nest eggs, it still promises to be quite a haul for the Gen-Xers and Millennials.

Much has been written about the unprecedented transfer of wealth that will soon gain momentum as a generation of baby boomers passes along a lifetime of upward mobility to its children and grandchildren. While the financial turmoil of the last few months has trimmed many nest eggs, it still promises to be quite a haul for the Gen-Xers and Millennials.

But we baby boomers have another precious holding in our portfolios, one that hasn't lost any of its value as the markets have tanked. It is the sum total of our vast knowledge and experience, gained through years of trial and error in the all-too-real world in which we have lived and practiced. Just as our financial plans are predicated on an orderly passing of wealth to those we love and others in need, our life plans need to include passing the wealth inside our minds on to the next generation.

I have long extolled the virtues of serving as a guest lecturer in colleges. I finally decided to put my passion into words that might encourage others to find their way to the classroom. Working with the Institute for Public Relations, I have written a new handbook called, A Professional's Guide to Guest Lecturing. This short book will never make Amazon's rankings, but my hope is that it will serve as a catalyst for getting more of my colleagues in front of students who are eager to learn from their rich and diverse life experiences. The guide will be sent to more than a thousand practitioners and educators, and the electronic version will be available through the Institute's Web site, instituteforpr.org.

In addition to suggestions on how to locate and contact schools, I've included thoughts on how to develop content for the classroom. Guest lecturers too often show up with little more than a few entertaining anecdotes to present to students. While this can be amusing, students gain the most when life stories are combined with a sense of how strategy was formulated, tactics were chosen, and lessons were learned from the final deployment.

Guest lecturers must work closely with faculty members to ensure their topic meshes well with the curriculum. Until I began teaching, I had little understanding of the importance of writing down learning objectives and then developing content based on these goals.

In the end, what is most important is creating opportunities to get in front of students. Once there, the wealth transfer will occur and the students will benefit.

The happy surprise will be that the giver will walk away with the satisfaction of helping to shape young minds.

Tom Martin is an executive-in-residence, Department of Communication, the College of Charleston. He also serves as a senior counselor for Feldman & Partners. He can be reached at martintr@cofc.edu.

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